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

Category: BBQ Page 1 of 3

Chinatown BBQ

If you ask local food blogger and foodie with an impeccable palette: @pickydiner, this is his favourite place for Chinese style barbecue. Therefore, when given the opportunity, I was excited to stop by this Chinatown gem, to share a platter with him.

From the exterior, the restaurant doesn’t look like much, but inside the modern meets traditional decor speaks volumes. An eye catching merging of patterns and pops of colour sets the place apart. A checkerboard floor, red chairs, and green accents; given heritage with Chinese keepsakes and signs.

But the real show stopper is the hanging slabs of meat right as you enter. What is typically showcased in exterior windows at other Chinese bbq shops, is a welcoming sight as you enter through the door at Chinatown BBQ. You basically walk in and can make your decision on dinner through sight alone.

We decided to share a platter of three of their meats over rice. Although I wish they had an option of four over rice, so that we can have a taste of it all. We skipped on the honey glazed pork and opted for the combination of Roasted duck, Roasted pork, and Soy sauce chicken instead.

Here, presentation matters and it only adds to the experience. A fulsome offering of meat over blue and white porcelain, served on top of a floral tablecloth, with rounded bowls of rice. They were even kind enough to allow us to split a pint of beer into two separate steins.

As for the barbecue meat itself, I can immediately taste the quality. Each piece incredibly tender and juicy. The flavour not just on the skin, but saturated throughout. Honestly this is some of the best Chinese barbecue I have ever had. Even more so when I happened to have some for Chinese New Year eve days after and it didn’t even come close to the quantity here. Therefor, I full agree with Picky Diner’s assessment and can definitely see myself travelling down here when I have a craving. Highly recommend.

Chinatown BBQ
130 E Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1T3
(604) 428-2626

Chinatown BBQ, take out

When craving Chinese style barbecue meats there are two main options across the Lower Mainland. Two, that pull out ahead as the ones to visit. And if Richmond is too far of a drive out, Chinatown is the one to head towards.

From the exterior you wouldn’t think this is a restaurant, if not for reading the name and noting all the signs out front. You walk in and are greeted by an additional all glass facade. A stunning evergreen frame with gold lettering and red characters, illuminated by multiple glowing yellow lights. It all stands out against the black and white checkered floor, the green booths with red chairs, and the floral table tops stacked up for non-use. The walls speak to the restaurant’s history and authenticity, displaying a multitude of black and white portraits and Chinese paint brush paintings of waterways and landscape. I wish I knew about the decor sooner, as it would have gotten me down here earlier. But alas, all I could do now was appreciate what I may get to experience one day. Instead I shifted my attention to the glistening pieces of meat that hung in their internal window.

The set up is much like all the other Chinese BBQ places in the vicinity, but a lot more well maintained. It is a shame that this isn’t the view from the store front. I’d imagine they would get a lot more attention if that were the case. A showcase like this I would lure you in and close, as you watch meat juices and savoury oils drip and pool in a tray underneath.

You order off of their red and white menu, kept in place under the glass top of a table. A collection of dishes featuring their prized barbecue, served along side rice or now noodles.

Decor aside, the meat was less impressive. Maybe it was because by the time I got to it, it needed to be reheated. Or maybe because the pieces I got were not the best cuts. But overall I found myself thinking it dry and fatty. The duck was bland, which had me reaching for plum sauce. But there wasn’t any included, which meant I had to settle for Thai sweet chilli. And let me tell you, it isn’t the same. Similarly, the pork belly fell short of my expectations. There was more fat than meat. The skin lost its crunch, and the flavour of what little meat I got was more salty than smokey, as one would expect. However, having said that I did finish it all sucking meat from bone; because let’s face it, even the worse Chinese bbq is better than no Chinese bbq. And this is my no measure the worse. Good in a pinch, a easy meal on rice.

Chinatown BBQ
130 E Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1T3
(604) 428-2626

iDen & Quan Ju De Beijing Duck House

There is a buzz surrounding this newly opened, Beijing style, fine dining establishment, with a history that dates back to 1864. This is “Quan Je Du’s” first Canadian location, now opened on Cambie and 12th. During the time of my visit they have only been running for 3 months, and normally I don’t like visiting/reviewing a restaurant until after they have had some miles on them. Time to allow them the ability to hone their operations and service model. As such today’s experience wasn’t bad per se, it just could have been a lot smoother with more preparation and practice. Things felt disorganized and it was obvious they were still working processes out, like their drink and cocktail program that didn’t exist on paper. Thankfully our server’s skills and customer centricity made up for most of the unanswered questions and slight misses from the brand as a whole.

“Quan Je Du” is also better known as Canada’s first and (currently) only 5D experience restaurant. An option not available yet, but when it will be, it is for those who book their VIP room: i-Den. According to the staff this comes with a $1,500 pre-charge to your credit card. Here, guests will be able to choose their environment and with the use of technology, they “will be completely immersed in their chosen narrative, such as the hustle and bustle of Shanghai or the underwater world of a coral reef. There will be a soundscape, either music or ambient, visual projections on the walls and tables, interactive ingredients, with the food and taste rounding out the five dimensions.” (Taken from their website). By the sounds of it, I would liken the 5D experience to Vancouver’s other multi-dimensional experience: “FlyOver Canada” where all your senses are stimulated in an adventure.

As for decor, the restaurant exudes luxury. With an all glass facade you can easily take in the opulence of the lounge and dining area from the sidewalk. However their most iconic room is the foyer, only visible if you enter the threshold, where the host greets you at their podium. The podium stands in front of a lengthy glass pane fire place, surrounded by a series of blue shelves lit in LED. The latter are square cubbies that soothe with their alignment and symmetry. A few of them are used to house ornamental texts, many more the restaurant’s collection of stemware.

Just past this the restaurant opens up. The layout creates good spacing between tables with several booths sectioned off like office cubicles; but with gold embroidered throw pillows for panache. They matched the gold and blue theme that found itself on to the carpet and the lighting tone. I was in awe of the feature walls that were comprised of wood carvings, a traditional Chinese style painting of a solider on horse back, and the ones that mimicked the drawers of apothecary curios. For the latter, the drawers don’t actually open, they just simply added a level of authenticity. It all fit together seamlessly, very luxe. All, outside of the table’s centre piece: a gold dipped plastic rose, set under a cloche (beauty and the beast style). I felt it cheapened each table setting unnecessary.

And it is not surprising that the washroom is as elaborate. A bronze and gold gilded facility, set behind heavy doors with sealed individual stalls.

As for food, they are well known for their Chinese roasted style duck, so we had to indulge in the “Quan Ju De Signature Beijing Duck”. Be warned this dish does take 45 minutes to an hour to prepare, so be sure to order it even before you flip through the menu. This is a specialty item that you have to order before hand to confirm the quantity needed for the night. And at their China location they hand out a certificates indicating the number of your duck, a count made in consideration of all the ducks they sell globally. However, there is no such option here in Canada.

The whole duck is carved up table side by a professional chef in all white, with matching chef’s hat. He does this on the spot, hovering over a golden cart. You pay $96 for the service, show, and fowl. The perfectly sliced pieces are laid out like scales, served with a warm thin crepe, scallion, cucumber, and a sweet bean sauce. As for the rest of the duck, they pack the entire carcass for your to take home later.

The speciality dish was delicious. The duck skin is served with white sugar that you dip it into as per the suggestion of the chef. This delicacy is a little too fatty and sweet for my tastes, but an interesting combo nonetheless.

The slices of duck were cut so consistently, it was a testament to the silent chef carving it. With them, you craft your duck wraps yourself: dressing, stuffing, and rolling as you like. There was plenty of everything for 3 people to share, with the thin crepe wrap keeping warm by candlelight. But be warned the double decker steamer does have the bottom container getting over steamed and dry with an extended time over the flame. You take one wrap and fill it with slices of duck dipped into their house made black bean oyster and hoisin sauce. To it you add thin slices of cucumber and scallion, before folding the sides of the wrap together and the bottom up to create an edible pocket. And if you don’t know how it’s done, there is an option to watch your server demo it first.

The rest of our dishes were ordered in consideration of the cuisine type and what they might specialize in.

Since we were having duck, we figured why not truly have the whole duck with the “Quan Ju De Duck platter” which includes marinated tongue, gizzard, and liver. It came to the table smoking on a slate slab for extra flare.

The liver was a mild start, those familiar with the flavour will be a fan of this.

The tongue came bone-in so be careful, I didn’t even know there was a bone any tongue. It ate like cartilage and really isn’t bad if you like chicken feet.

As for the gizzard it needed to breathe more, in order to alleviate some of its muskiness. It didn’t really have a meaty texture to it, but one more like cellulose instead. It was best described by one of my guests as “foie gras eraser”.

We asked our server for her suggestion on what was the most visually appealing, this was her number one recommendation, and I can see why. “Smoked five spiced venison” with prawn stuffed morel mushroom, bell peppers, and scallions. The small dish is served smoked with hickory in a giant fish bowl with rocks and moss. The smoke is released table side, making for a great visual treat. As the smoke wafts around its scent becomes a part of the meal. Served with hard charcoal crisps, you eat it much like chips and salsa. Except, this was a tad overwhelming with the distinct flavour of five spice. I would have preferred it with rice instead, for familiarity sake.

I really like the “Tofu blossom soup”, but didn’t think I would based on the bland sounding name. It is a serving of thick and almost gelatinous broth, made with chunks of tofu, spinach, and Chinese prosciutto. The bits are sliver thin and they bob around in levels within your soup. It is simple and beautifully warming.

And to round out or meal with some starch we had the “Beijing style stir fried sliced pancake with shredded cabbage and garlic”. It is basically chewy dough cut up and wok fried like noodles. The dish had a vinegary tone to it: tangy, with the flavour of dried daikon coming through, and a needed crispiness with the shredded cabbage.

And your meal ends with a wet wipe that was thick like a facecloth. A nice little touch worth mentioning.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I would definitely like to return to try more of the menu and their 5D experience before making a full assessment. But for tonight, it wasn’t as expensive as I thought and the extravagance of the dishes is what I like. I would have to save up for the $588 chef’s tasting menu though. Don’t deny your cravings.


2808 Cambie St, Vancouver, BC V5Z 2V5
(236) 477-7777

Miss Korea BBQ

Walking up to the restaurant, we recollected that we have been to this location before; but as a different reincarnation. It then too was a do-it-yourself barbecue restaurant. But instead of a Japanese, this was now a lively and boppy Korean bbq hub. You could smell the smoke a block away, and hear the sizzle even past the jovial voices and the bubbly K-pop ballads belting.

Sadly, we were horribly late for our reservation, and as a result our table was given away. So we were left at the threshold, awkwardly standing, at the centre of a cluster of dining tables, separated by dark wood separators. There was no other option given that the small waiting area was already cramped, and it was too cold to enjoy standing outside. So here we were, waiting a minute for every one that we were originally late for.

It was packed house on Friday with plenty bodies waiting for a table after us, this did bolstered the restaurant’s imagine in my eyes. It had me thinking that it must be worth the wait, especially given how popular it was with the Korean population. The only hitch, all the waiting had my eyes drying from the unseen smoke and my nostrils trying to close in on themselves, to avoid breathing in the acrid smell of burning compounded, from every grill at every table. Be warned? This smell does follow you home, embedding itself in your hair and on your clothes.

But past this, the visit, the food, and especially the service were a delight. The young host was cheery and welcoming, we were ushered to our table as soon as one became available; and well look after each time we push the red button for service. A measure of convenience for the staff, but an action I could not get use to. Continuing to make eye contact and hail a person like I would a cab, like at everywhere else.

The menu was easy to navigate with plenty of coloured photos. If you want the full experience you get one of their predetermined barbecue sets, and to it add some sides. For more food, go for one of their full dishes like kimchi pancake, bibimbap, or japchae. There are also a number of smaller appetizers and share plates to consider.

But back to the barbecue sets: a collection of raw meats that you cook yourself on the grill, located at the centre of your table. They are a variety of sets to choose from, each with 4 sides, bowls of rice, soup and sauces. So you are basically choosing what types of meat you want. And then if you want the order as a medium which feeds 2 to spare, or large which can feed 3-4.

We went with the “Miss Combo A” which centred around rib eye steak, pork belly, special galbi, and chicken. And added on cheese as one of the grill sides for an extra $3.95. The price is steep for 60mls of shredded cheese melted and quick to burn, but amazingly delicious with the meat if you get it all gooey and stringy.

Meats are marinated and served all together on one platter for you to sort through. Larger cuts that you might want to trim down to size if you are sharing, and seeing as your meal doesn’t come with knives for slicing. You get two tongs and a pair of scissors. One of the tongs is for raw meat the other to serve the cooked cuts. You can either cut the meat down to size before or after it is cooked. We went with before and found the dull shears ineffective on any sinew.

We were advised to eat the chicken and pork first using a more closed off grill plate. And then when we move on to the beef, the grill plate would be changed to one that is more wire-y. This was nice, given that the grill isn’t oiled so it does get caked with burnt meat that sloughs off during the cooking process. So getting a new one mid way ensures you are tasting more of your meat, and less of the burning.

How the meat turns out depends on you, so be vigilant and visit with someone who actually enjoys tending to the grill. For me, not so much, I rather eat and enjoy my meal with minimum work. But this sort of dining is more for comradery and the ability to elongate a meal through slow preparation and gentle grazing anyways.

As for how it tasted, the seasoning was the same for all the meat, a mildly sweet and salty marinate. Good but not enough. I found myself dipping everything into the side of sweet soy, chilli, or course salt for more punch. Each cut had a different chew. I liked the special galbi the most for its perfect balance of fat and meat, the chicken was the most tender and naturally flavourful, the pork belly was mostly just fat, and the rib eye a little too aged and musky for my tastes. But the fun really comes from trying them all with a different combination of the egg, corn and cheese on the side.

The corn came shrivelled and remained dry. The egg bubbled up and kept warm like a fluffy omelette; and along side with the cheese and pork belly, you got flashbacks of breakfast. Be warned the cheese is very hot and it holds its heat, so be careful as it can burn your tongue.

You can also use the 4 vegetable sides as a way to inject a little flavour along with the meat and rice. Although majority of them are more tangy and refreshing in quality and serve better as a break in between, to change up the flavour with. Like the spicy cucumber and pickled julienned daikon. There is also the more common chilled boiled potato and spicy kimchi sides.

The soup comes to the table sizzling in its cast iron vessel. A light vegetable broth with hot spice. Mixed in are plenty of chopped cabbage and onion; with chucks on tofu, cannelloni beans, and zucchini. A great start to warm your stomach up for things to come. You can also enjoy the vegetables over your rice as they are well seasoned by the soup.

As good as all this was, and despite how much food we already had in front of us, I couldn’t walk away without ordering the “Seafood rice cake”. Rice cakes are one of my favourite, especially in this form. I enjoy the chew of the tubes, and here it was well highlighted by the mix of the seafood and their textures. Shrimp in tail, mussels in shell, sheets of fish cake, and squid curls; all smothered in a sweet chilli sauce. Spicy enough to give your tongue a run for its money, but not hot enough that you would stop eating. I am not ashamed to admit that I single handedly finished the whole bowl.

To drink we had soju, because when having Korean barbecue what else do you turn too? However I made the mistake of ordering a sweet one in green apple fruit. The result, the most un-complimentary food and drink pairing I have ever had. I outright admit soju was a bad idea. However, in my defence I typically am not the one who orders it, it is just shows up!

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.
A great place for good barbecue and a fun date night option. Just be prepared to come out smelling like burn bbq smoke. Don’t deny your cravings.

793 Jervis St, Vancouver, BC V6E 2B1
(604) 669-1225

Sitting down with the HK BBQ Master himself

“If you don’t enjoy your own food how can you expect others to”. – Anson, owner & operator of HK BBQ Master

Ever since Netflix’s “Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner” came out, with the first episode featuring “HK BBQ Master”, they have seen longer lines than usual and an increase in popularity. All thanks to the celebrity of Seth Rogen and acclaimed Chef David Chang, of “Momofuku” fame.

And since then I yet to revisit. So when touring around a foodie from New York, I figured, what better reason to return to the popular hole in the wall, than this?

Located in the parking lot of Superstore in Richmond, one unfamiliar with the area might not find them all that easily. Although, the line that snakes out the door is a dead giveaway. Plenty of bodies trying to cram themselves in to this confined space. This, despite the fact that they have recently renovated and are now the size of three businesses. But I can still recall the past where they were but a narrow corridor serving up their traditional Hong Kong style barbecued meats to go. This 2019 expansion now gives more customers the ability to dine in, and the opportunity for us to sit at our table and enjoy the bustling ambience today.

“HK” closes at 8pm every night, and they are continuously finding themselves selling out by 7-7:30pm. In fact, they restock their reserves daily in order to ensure freshness and quality of their product; basically only ordering what they need for the day. So you know it doesn’t get any fresher than that. They are also so popular that they have 3 chefs prepping for next day’s service, all day; and 2 chefs cooking for today’s service, the entire day.

Today we were treated to the full extent of their menu. A feast that included a sit down with the second generation “HK BBQ Master” himself. He served up sides and stories of the craftsmanship that went into his food. Time and care that sets them apart, and have resulted in the dying of this art.

His favourite dish is their slow cooked soy chicken. The secret is in the soy sauce dressing. The same vat of the stuff has been used and reused for over 20 years now. They keep adding more herbs, spices, and rock sugar to elongate the mix. The result, a delicious light and dark soy chicken that is poached for 25 minutes. Each piece dark or white meat is deliciously tender. It isn’t too salty browned with soy, but flavoured thoroughly enough to enjoy as is. Rice is available, but I wouldn’t recommend it. You want to save room for all the meat to follow.

Next is their most popular menu item: the Bbq pork; the one coloured in red, not to be confused with the one that has crispy skin. Our host described the former as the easiest way to approach their cuisine. A nice safe start to the introduction of HK style barbecue meats. This was slow cooked in a bath of wheat honey. They allow the meat to soak in it twice, resulting in pork with crispy edges and a soft and tender caramelization to it. Our host estimates that they go through about 400lbs of this meat a day, depending on the day. This too was simply amazing, one of the best renditions I have had, the extra honey soak was worth it, sweet and saucy, fatty and delicious.

The roasted pork belly is the one with the crispy skin. And with the recipe at “HK BBQ Master” it is made even crispier. Described to us like “bacon”; here, they marinated the belly meat top to bottom. Adding salt for the crackling, and cooking it at low heat. It was tasty, with little fat, though a little on the dry side for me.

My favourite of their meat products, is the roasted barbecue duck. I found the meat used here leaner than I have had at other restaurants. They also use a different type of sauce, ensuring there is plenty of a juice in the final product. The skin is roasted with a vinegar and sugar coating, where it air dries overnight, and then is cooked up to 45 minutes under one temperature. The finished product was tasty enough, but I wished we had meatier pieces over bone, and thicker cuts of breast meat to enjoy. It is served with their own home made plum sauce, a nice way to brighten up each piece, although it is just as good without it.

They also have a green onion dip and a squeeze bottle of homemade soy sauce as condiments. The green onion and ginger sauce is best with the chicken above. It too is made fresh every day. It adds a nice salty, herbal quality to the chicken. And the soy sauce is diluted from mix used in their soy marinate, but watered down and further sweetened.

If you are looking for something fresh, grab a side order of their vegetables for the table. This is typically a stewed leafy green sauced up and sautéed. I am not a fan of the texture of such vegetables so skipped out trying this.

But I highly recommend their soup. I don’t know if it is on rotation, but today we had their vegetable soup made with dry and fresh leafy greens. It is referred to as “Silver and gold soup”, given the colouring of the two types of vegetables used. I was surprised by how much I liked it. It replaced water for me during the meal. It was plenty flavourful, yet light enough to offer a break in between all the heavier meats.

The food was as good today as it was the last time I visited, and the time before that, and so on and so forth. But as for the future of “HK BBQ Master”, the young entrepreneur plans to expand his operations with a second location. A journey that begins with putting this learned skill and experience of HK style bbq down on paper. A written version to be used as a tool to train a new generation of cooks. Not just preparation with a feeling, but to be able to control the quality of a larger quantity of bbq meat.

There was also the mention of menu expansion including the potential for noodles, jerky, and marinated items; much like you would get from any traditional Hong Kong barbecue meat vendor. Until then, myself and many more Vancouverites and tourists will be more than happy with the current selection.

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? – Yes.
This is definitely something you will crave again. Everything was delicious and it was comforting. You felt full, but without feeling gross from having eaten too much with too much grease. Worth the hype and all the buzz, and one to check off the foodie bucket list! Don’t deny your cravings.

4651 No 3 Rd, Richmond, BC V6X 2C4
(604) 272-6568

Railtown Cafe, Tailgate BBQ series

This summer “Railtown Cafe” is bringing back their tailgate barbecue series. Their original location is hosting all day cookouts, one Sunday a month. June 23, July 14, August 18, and September 22 from 11am to 8pm. It is a ticketed event, so best to purchase them before hand to secure your plate. Although walks ins are accepted. With two down, there are only two more chances to try all their barbecue and sides. The meat platter is $27, and the vegetarian option $17. All tickets purchased online includes a complimentary drink voucher, where you save up to $6 for a cup.

Your bbq journey starts inside their cafe. Payment or ticket redemption gets you a paper plate. You take it down the counter to have it loaded with sides.

First comes their Jalapeño Corn Bread. Spicy meets sweet in this crumbly slice.

Next you have a choice of two sides between their “Carolina Coleslaw”, “Creamy Potato Salad”, “Classic Caesar Salad”, or “Farmers’ Market Field Greens”. I had the first two, my friend the Caesar and the potato salad. Each of the salads offered some freshness, and some greenery to help balance out all the density of the meat. I especially liked their potato salad. Thick chunks of potato coated in mayonnaise and flavoured with plenty of dill.

You head outside to where everything is prepared on their custom-built, 12-foot barbecue barrel grill. There, all your mains are kept warm, pre-made for easy dispensing. We enjoyed the meat lover’s option, a fulsome assembly of the below, guaranteed to have you leaving full.

The Tailgate Barbecue menu includes their 35-hour Texas-style Beef Brisket, Applewood-smoked Pork Shoulder, Beer-brined Maple Hill Farms Chicken, D’Original Sausage Haus Brats, and Corn on the Cob. You got a piece of each, though I am sure if you wanted to trade one for the other or make an edit they would obliged.

Everything was super tender, I especially enjoyed the dark meat piece of chicken. The brisket I got was a little fattier than I would have liked. The pulled pork shoulder was a little dry, but easily remedied with a generous scoop of their sweet and tangy barbecue sauce. That sauce was even good on their half cob of corn.

And naturally, with all this salted meat you’d want an ice cold beverage. And you are in luck, “Strange Fellows Brewing” and “Good Company Lager” is partnering with “Railtown” this year and their beers are on top. If you want something a little more sweet, cocktails like their “Lynchburg Lemonade” and/or their “Railtown Ruby Sangria” are available. I opted for the former for a full summer feel. But regular lemonade is also available. And for those coming with the entire family, there is plenty of other non-alcoholic beverages like flavoured iced-teas and other soft drinks available as well.

Once fully loaded, you gather up your heavy plate and chilled plastic cup and pick where you park. A pop up seating area is set up right out front, taking a tiny slice of the street. Folding tables clothed in white and red gingham offered a picnic vibe. But for those who rather stay out of the sun, there is plenty of indoor seating in the restaurant itself. Similarly, if you are looking to round out your meal with a hot beverage or dessert. They offer plenty of coffee options, and fresh made savoury and sweet pastries behind glass.

For more information on the next bbq tailgate and how you can get your own tickets, check out the link below.

Railtown Tailgate Barbecues are BACK!

397 Railway Street, Vancouver BC, V6A 1A4

Smoke and Bones

It was our anniversary and having stayed up late the night before (binge watching “Sharp Objects”, so calm down), we rolled out of bed late, wanting barbecue meats. My partner decided on “Smoke and Bones” so that I could visit a new restaurant and have material to write about. We dove all the way to it and got cold feet at the threshold. Judging the building by its exterior, we paused to do some more research, before parking. It had an all black facade with neon red and yellow lights directing you to the “BBQ” within.

Our apprehension was in that we feared we would be walking into an empty restaurant. A building that smelled like an old casino, serving up week old, dry barbecue at higher prices. This was enough of a concern that we had to reassess our options. Would we try something new or get our meat fix at a competitor we have visited in the past, and know we will get a fully satisfying meal there? We went for the former, having tried so many different barbecue places before, and wanting to add another to our list of references.

And I was happy to do: passing through the now empty courtyard, fenced in; and walking into the first barbecue restaurant with a wall dedicated to their ribbons, plaques, and trophies. The wall of awards built up our confidence in the place and had us expecting more.

The restaurant was dressed like a ranch themed sports bar. Spotted cow hide was strung up on the wall and upholstered on a bench by the door, an ox skull hung on display by the bar, and a full bison bust was mounted just right under the skylight. With brick columns, metal stools, wooden tables, and leather booths; the place had a modern yet rustic feel to it. I liked the detailing of having each table branded with “S&B” on one of its corners.

We arrived just as happy hour started at 3pm. So I took advantage by ordering one of their $4 beers on tap. This was their “Smoke and Bones lager”, an easy to drink brew with the fluidity of water.

For food they had a great listing with two sliders for $6, a $6 serving of mac and cheese, and a $6 chilli cheese dog. But we instead splurged on their full barbecue platter, in order to get a bit of everything and see if the restaurant bears repeating. This way we won’t walk away disappointed in one thing, and thinking everything else might be better.

Their “Barbeque platter” feeds 2-3 people of $62, and it left us with leftover for days. BBQ chicken, ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork, and farmer sausage; served on a large metal baking tray. Intermingled with coleslaw, potato salad, their “Smoke and Bones” beans, BBQ sauce, and corn bread as sides. It certainly is one of the more photogenic bbq platters we have had the pleasure to feast upon, but sadly, not one of the better.

The smell we got a whiff of outside, we got to taste on our tongues here; the taste and difference their smoker made. But bite after bite we could tell this wasn’t a fresh assembly. All the meats were reheated with the sausage still chilly at its core. We visited during a slower time, so could only imagine how all this would have been had we gotten it fresh-made on the day.

The following are some notes on each individual items.

My partner was most excited to see that the bread that was included in this set, also came with butter. Where as at other places bread doesn’t automatically proceed with butter and we have to ask for some and wait while they do it.

The cornbread next to it was a nice sweet bite. A simple mini muffin with that tell-a-tale corn bread mealiness.

I liked the home made pickles, they too were great for in between bites. A sharp salty tang to cleanse and lighten all the heavy barbecue to come. In fact, all the sides were helpful in this regard. Some just much better than the others.

Like the fries. They were great, a crispy thin coating encasing a stick of potato mash. It didn’t match all that well with their sweet and tangy barbecue sauce, ketchup felt like a more natural fit.

The coleslaw was nice enough, I just wished it shredded pieces were consistently chopped, so that you aren’t chewing through or avoiding shards of lettuce.

I was intrigued with their use of cooked and caramelized apple in their bake beans. It had me liking the texture of the beans more, whereas I usually don’t like how grainy they are. The apple also gave the side much sweetness, as well as passing along some of its tart nature. This is hence forth new favourite way to have baked beans.

The potato salad had so much promise. Despite its hue, and the mix of extra firm potatoes, crunchy celery, and fragrant red pepper, in what looks like a chipotle mayo dressing; this was disappointing and bland. It had zero zest to it. The potatoes were on the raw side and the peppers could have used a char. If you are going to visit and order this or their potato salad, I would suggest paying $4 more to sub in their hot potato salad instead.

As for the meat, the ribs were very dry. With it and the other smoked meats to come, you could tell it was reheated. Remixed with just a fresh brushing of sauces to help rejuvenate the exterior texture.

The brisket was either dry and lean or dry and fatty. The pieces and the way they were prepared was uneven. A dunk in the sauce did wonders in giving it some flavour.

The pulled pork was slightly more tender and on average better tasting, but only if you didn’t have to bite down on a hard and fully blackened charred bit.

The chicken was my favourite of all the meats, it could have been juicer, but in comparison it was the freshest of all the others, making it noticeably better.

The farmer’s sausage held up the best, but was slightly chilled at its centre. It was a nice enough, plenty pieces of chewy spiced pork link; sliced up for easy one bite sharing.


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.
Sadly, it wasn’t as great as we imagined it, or as their slew of accolades suggested. Even as leftovers remade into sandwiches and wraps, I wasn’t all that excited to revisit the taste. Once again, I truly believe this is only because the meat wasn’t fresh. I would love to try a batch made the morning of, knowing the difference it would make. Don’t deny your cravings.


999 Marine Drive, North Vancouver BC, V7P 1S4

The Butcher and Bullock: Dine Out 2018

A Two Rivers Specialty Meats and Donnelly Group Collaboration.
As part of Dine Out Vancouver 2018, “Butcher at the Butcher” hosted a beer and meat fest like no other. They pride themselves on working with a number of local/BC suppliers in developing and curating their modern pub menus, so on this night, they chose to shine the spotlight on two of them. In partnership with “Two Rivers Meats” and “Postmark Brewing” they held a special dining event that combined locally-sourced meats and pairs them locally-brewed beers. For those who missed it, this is my recap of that great night.

I was invited to attend as media, so as always: plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. 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.

This evening, the “Donnelly Group’s” culinary team prepared a number of meat-centric, locally-sourced dishes. There were three food stations, that served up a different meat dish and suggested which beer to pair it with. Along with canapés passed around for the duration of the evening. Tickets were only $69, which included taxes and service charges. With each ticket you got six food and four drink vouchers to be redeemed. You can basically visit each food station twice and try all but one of the beers offered from the bar. The canapés were all you can eat and there was plenty for everyone.

During our dinner, we got to meet Fraser, who is the owner of “Two Rivers”. He, like everyone else, was here enjoying the feast; and was highly interested to see how his product was being received. Given the smiles around the room and the piles of bones on each plate, it was safe to say that everyone was loving the food and enjoying themselves. We learned a little more about “Two Rivers”, from Fraser. We heard how they have been working with the “Donnelly Group” for five years now, supplying all burgers, custom sausages, and steaks to all of public houses. They do this with much care, with a focus on where the meat comes from and how it is treated and raised. And with their great quality produce they make everything from scratch, from their factory in Vancouver.

The following were dishes from the food stations, followed by all that was offered from off the travelling trays. Each station was set up with a server either slicing, scooping, or pouring for diners who redeemed a ticket. A sign marketed their feature and suggested which “Postmark” product was an ideal pairing for it.

I arrived first thing to be able to see everything set up and in its entirety. Like the whole slab of beef brisket that would be slowly sliced down to its end, as the night progressed. Here, you had your choice of enjoying the slow cooked beef, as is in all its glory, or as the feature in a brisket slider. This would be a spiced and braised, fatty piece of brisket served on a bun with your choice of condiments and vegetables. Like ketchup, Dijon mustard, shredded lettuce, and tomato.

What started as a slider became me simply taking the brisket out and eating the meat on its own. One, it was so much better as is, two with all the food to come I had to pace myself and not fill up on carb. After all this event guaranteed you didn’t leave feeling hungry.

The brined and fried chicken station was my favourite, and admittedly much better earlier on in the night then later. Then the pieces of chicken were large and juicy, with a thick coating of breading doubling its size. If the colonel had an older, refined bother, this would be how he prepared his chicken. However as the night progressed the pieces got smaller, the breading thinner, and the frying a little drier and darker. And this is reason why I always arrive to everything on time, if not early. The early bird gets the worm for a reason. The side of mini mac & cheese. Was pretty consistent. No exciting flavours, just a good sized serving to offer as a neutral base for the featured meat.

The “Sausage Plate” station allowed you to stylize your chosen sausage with a bevy of condiments. Grilled onions, sauerkraut, and four different flavoured mustards. This spoke to “Two River’s Meat” custom creating sausages for Donnelly in their long standing relationship with them. Unique links like tonight’s jalapeño cheddar and hot smoked turkey sausage. One ticket only got you half of one sausage, so I gave up two tickets to be able to try a half of each, and feast on a whole.

Each segment was sliced up and laid to rest on a bed of crispy French fries. Then over both a generous ladle of canapé spread showered them. From here you used tongs and spoons to pile on what you liked from the six bowls of condiments before you. The turkey sausage had a unique blend of spices, a little stiffer and more mild compared to the juicy jalapeño pork sausage I preferred with its zesty heat and squirting, salty, cheesy juices.

The rest of the meats flowed around the room, balanced on wooden boards, in the arms of servers. If you missed out on one round, you were sure to catch them and more on the second to tenth.

My favourite and the crowd’s favourite was the thick cuts of gooey and crispy “Candied Bacon”. Not much more to say then perfection, as the best cut and flavour I have had. In fact I wish I had a bowl of them before me as I am recalling this to write about it.

The “Crispy fried & glazed pork ribs” came as a close second. Also sticky with a little bit of sweet. These generously coated, tangy ribs fell right off the bone as you reached out for one.

The “Bresaola toasts with truffle & goat cheese” was a refreshing break from all heavier cuts. A thin slice of salted prosciutto that matched the saltiness of the truffle and a cheese. Although I would have liked a salsa or some greens just to brighten it up a bit.

The “Duck Wings” were actually duck drums. A few bites of drier meat well seasoned with a bit of heat and lots of honey from the sweet chilli sauce used. I just wished the used the same recipe on duck breast instead, after all that is where all the meat is.

The “Lamb Belly with cilantro & mint, yogurt and cucumber” was tender pulled strings of lamb, piled high on a crisp wonton. It was tender and crispy, with the yogurt and herbs giving the bite some tang and freshness. It was a great canapé to start on.

For drinks you were only given four tickets, and with five “Postmark Brewing” drink selections to choose from, you had to make your decision wisely. You got a taster for each, but if you choose your dining companions correctly you could pool tickets together and try more than the allotted four for all five. The options available are listed below.

Falconers IPA — 6%/52 IBU
• Hops- Falconer’s Flight
• Malt- Pale Ale, Maris Otter, Crystal, Aromatic
• Yeast – American Ale

Gose — 4.1%/8 IBU
• Hops-Perle
• Malt- Pilsner, Wheat
• Yeast- American Ale
• Other- Coriander, Orange Peel, Salt

Cider — 5.8%
• Cider Apples – Snow, Michelin
• Sweet Apples – Spartan, Golden Delicious

VUW Merlot Barrel-Aged French Saison — 6%/ 25 IBU
• Hops-Aramis
• Malt- French Pilsner, Wheat, Caramel Wheat, Aromatic, Caramel

• Yeast- French Saison
• Other- Aged in Merlot barrels for 6 months


So, if you are sad to have read that this came and went without you knowing about it, don’t miss out Donnelly’s next great Dine Out event: Foodie Trivia. This is also a ticketed event for one night only. Here they take a foodie spin on Donnelly Group’s already popular pub trivia nights. On February 1st at the Bimini Public House. Foodie Trivia is being developed and run by Nice Guys Trivia, the city’s best trivia hosts. Here, teams of up to six players will test themselves in a bowl of food, chef, and restaurant-themed questions. They will be competing for prizes and glory whilst enjoy a three-course dinner created by the “Donnelly Group’s” chef team Alvin Pillay, Sarah Stewart, and Chris Stewart. Each course will be accompanied by a paired cocktail and snacks will be served in between to make sure that no-one is competing on an empty stomach. Tickets are available for $75, which includes taxes and service charges, and are inclusive of the above mentioned food and drink.

Tickets are available and on sale at And For more information about Donnelly Group pubs and cocktail bars, visit


911 West Pender Street, Vancouver BC, V6C 3B2
The Butcher And Bullock Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

HK BBQ Master

This was one of the rare occasions I found myself in Richmond with some time to spare. So I decided to tag along to lunch with a few other food bloggers. When deciding on where to go, I mentioned wanting to try a hidden gem, something that you can only get in the city and that I will like be missing out on if I didn’t try. All those parameters led us to “HK BBQ Master”, for a very meat heavy meal.

This is actually one of the best restaurant in Richmond, according to tourism of Richmond, as they often suggest the restaurant and take out of towners here when on a guided tour. Although you wouldn’t think of it as such, given it locale. Located in the underground parking of Richmond’s superstore. Coming through the lot your nose leads the way, and your eyes are drawn in by the sheen from the golden brown skin of the whole poultry hanging in the window. Though it definitely isn’t easy to find, nor is its location one to attract walk-by traffic. This is the kind of place you have to know about to get here; not that they need the help advertising. Considering the line that constantly stretched out the door during the duration of our stay, they are doing just fine. Majority came in, only to take a box of their barbecue meats out. Whereas we decided to dine in and and enjoy our meat plates with rice and soup for sides.

According to my hosts, the restaurant has actually expanded since its original open. Their little shop has taken over their neighbour’s space to the left, allowing for additional seating in an already maximized dining room. Currently a brick wall separates the two.

One of my dining mates knew the owner and his son, so both came to our table to greet her and us. Here, I was able to ask a few questions for this post. Where upon, I could feel the pride the father had in his work, and saw the keen ability the son had to take over in his father’s footsteps.

The owner came from humble beginnings, his family was poor, so in order to earn some money, get an education, and keep him out of trouble as a kid, he got a job working at a restaurant at the early age of 14. There, he worked 12 hours days, with the occasional day off and two hours in between the morning and night shift to catch up on some sleep. It was here that he learned the traditional way to prepare barbecue duck, chicken, and pork. And the result was some of the best Chinese style barbecue I have ever had. I agreed with my friends, this was worth travelling all the way to Richmond for. Or if ever in Richmond, stopping by to grab a box to go. Even the owner himself swears by his quality, stating that there is no comparing his cooking with that of any other restaurant’s.

The “Roasted pork belly” was his signature dish. A favourite of all those who tried it and definitely the chef’s point of pride. He himself, takes an active role in cooking and running the restaurants day to day business, but he does also have a team of chefs to help him churn out his popular menu in mass quantities. Each chef knows only how to execute just one of his famous barbecue dishes, not one can prepare them all like he can.

The meat for this comes from a medium size pig. It is barbecued tender with a super crispy layer of skin. It is cut into slices with meat, fat, and skin visible in distinct, coloured layers. Each piece is on the fattier side with plenty of salt to give it flavour.

I really enjoyed how tender the “Soy sauce chicken” was. The chef recommended that we have each piece with their green onion, ginger, and oil mix as a dip. Their was plenty of flavour in its soy sauce soaked brown skin, but the dip offered a change of taste and some tang.

The “BBQ duck” was the perfect balance of fat and meat. It was sweet with a honey glaze finish and nice with crispy edges. I enjoyed this most dipped in their homemade plum sauce.

We were also given a tasting of their “Cold chicken”, (so note: if you get this yourself, it would not come like it is shown here). For those unfamiliar, don’t let let the yellow skin scare you off or the fact that it’s served chill. This was some of the smoothest chicken I have ever had, lightly salted and just as nice with the above mentioned green onion and ginger sauce mix.

The son was serving us and was quick to suggest and add on their “Winter melon soup with white fungus and shredded chicken” to our tab. I have had the soup before, so I can tell you with great certainty that this was a great rendition of it. It was a clean broth with light flavours. You sipped it without it leaving a film of oil on our lips. They were generous with how much meat each serving got. Although I am not a fan of water logged shredded chicken, so left the lot of it at the bottom of the bowl.

The father brought over their own plate of greens, as most Chinese meals are not complete without one. I don’t like the texture of leafy vegetables so passed on it for more steamed white rice instead.


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? – Yes.
Delicious food to satisfy those pesky meat cravings. Great Chinese style barbecue worth travelling to Richmond for. Don’t deny your cravings.


4651 No 3 Road, Richmond BC V6X 2C4
HK BBQ Master Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lamplighter Public House

Gastown chicken fight: BBQ wing competition


I was delighted to be asked to be one of the three judges for this year’s annual “Gastown Chicken Fight”. This is the sixth time that “The Lamplighter Pub” has invited wing lovers to their neighbourhood competition. A match up where teams compete to see who will “bask in the glory of being Gastown’s wing masters”. An afternoon with chicken topped trophies, $5 beer specials, and plenty of Jim Beam bourdon.

To skip the reading, visit my YouTube channel: MaggiMei. And watch my behind the scenes look at the competition, with a play by play of each wing and their creative competitors.

This afternoon, eight Gastown restaurants and pubs were pitted head to head with the goal of preparing the best wing. This was to be determined in terms of taste, originality, and presentation; as decided by the judges. The rules: each competing team was given 20lbs of wings the night before and a bottle of Jim Beam Bourbon (6 year aged whiskey), to utilize in their preparation of it. The next day all teams arrived at “Lamplighter” with their wings already marinated and ready for their time on the grill. Competitors were given 30 minutes to set up and start cooking, out on the patio.

The smoke, sights, and smells attracted the attention of many on-lookers. Passer-byers who had to ask what was going on, especially given the amount of paparazzi photo taking and video recording that was going on, which included the likes of me. That is why I was surprised that this wasn’t a more popular event. And I can’t believe I am only hearing about it now. Had I known, I would have been here for the event, all six years prior; just like a handful of those in the audience today.

Each team was given their time across one of the three lengthy grills, at random draw. One by one they approached the barbecue and one by one they flipped, tossed, sauced and plated. When the wings were cooked and ready to go, they were served up in individual portions to us judges. With the rest heaped on high across metal serving trays, and then served piece-meal style to all those in attendance.

The final outcome of the completion would be based on the combined votes of the judges, with consideration given to the fan favourite. The latter was a decision made by casting your ballot (a white pebble) into the ballot box (a glass carafe) labeled with a restaurant’s name. The one with the most at the bottom would be the people’s champion.

Before we begin, just a warning: Between all the beers and shots I had, while trying to take photos and shoot videos, simultaneously carrying out my judging responsibilities; I did not capture all the footage I would have liked to, or even in a quality that was usable. Similarly, this post will not be in my typical thorough writing style, as I failed to take many notes. For once I lived more in the present, than trying to remember this day in the past.

But at the end of the day, it was a great event, and one I would love to attend again, hopefully returning as a judge, but if not, just to participate as an audience member would be nice.

The following wings are in the order in which their restaurant name was drawn and they were invited to cook and present.

First, representing the establishment we were currently in today was the “Lamplighter” wing. Inspired by chicken adobo, served with a cooling, tangy creamy dip.

Next was Mamie Taylor’s, who ended up wining third place for their Caroline style mustard wings with Kentucky bourbon, and pork floss topping. It looked cheesy, but tasted zesty.

The kitchen staff from the “Blarney Stone” took a more classic approach with their French cured wing in an orange Demi-glaze.

And last year’s champions “Bao Down” were back to defend their title with their Hong Kong style chicken jerky. Apparently within this competition they are known for their unique interpretation of the challenge. Here they removed the wing component completely, serving their chicken as jerky in a lettuce wrap topped with a Filipino style sauce and a pickled pineapple slaw.

The team from the “Metropole” pub were quick to finish their saucy wing coated in a sprinkling of crushed ketchup chips. They also added flair to the judge’s table by pulling out bottles of Smirnoff Ices from their pants and cracking them open for us to enjoy. We all appreciated a good bribe.

First place unanimously went to “Clough club”, six years competing and they finally won their first trophy, and first place to boot. Theirs was a pickled back wing that tasted like dill pickle chips. An unexpected twist accompanied by fried kale.

New to the Gastown area, and attending their first “Chicken Fight”, was “Crab Park”. Although, most notable for their seafood, they took this poultry challenge and made it their own. They prepared a salted caramel wing which held up. It didn’t necessarily pair well with the salty chowder. But when presented with a hot serving of chunky and creamy chowder in an edible bowl, we were happy.

And last, but not least was barbecue house, “Pekinpah”. They played off their strength and made a smokey wing. Cream soda braised bourbon wings, topped with a pickled jalapeño and peach salsa.


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? – Yes.
What a fun way to dine: a dinner and an interactive show. I definitely recommend keeping an eye out for this one and joining the “Lamplighter” crew for year seven in 2018. Don’t deny your cravings.


92 Water Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 1B2
The Lamplighter Public House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Page 1 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén