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Category: BBQ Page 2 of 3

The Yale Saloon


Looking to cross one off the bucket list at downtown Vancouver’s newest country, rock, and BBQ destination.
I was privileged enough to attend their grand opening, and sly enough to come early to take photos. Doing so to avoid the soon to be crowded bar, seating areas, and dance floor.

Located within the Granville entertainment district, like all the other night clubs and attractions, their neon lights lit up the sky. It’s name in blue, derived from the hotel it was affiliated with; a saxophone to symbolize the regular blue performances within; an a pink pig branded with “BBQ”, for obvious reasons.


This would be my first foot into a country bar/club, and minus the bales of hay, this is how I would expect a modern interpretation of one to be. Walking in, I was immediately impressed by the thoroughness of their theme. The servers were in dressed down “country” wear: a causal red flannel shirt and denim blue jeans. A few had bandanas, but not enough had cowboy boots and hats. They sold you on the “country” with details at the bar and the decorations on the dance floor. The main bar had longhorn bull horns presented in display. Several bottles of spirits and various bottles of wine were corralled behind wire. And rusted cans and tins, were lined up in a row above it all.


Above the glowing red the dance floor were chandeliers shaped like wagon wheels. A texaco gas pump and a moose head stood near by. And surrounding it all l were booth seats, high top tables meant for leaning, a secondary bar, and benches to rest your tired feet. Feet tired from the line dancing, that often went on there.


Tonight they had cheerleaders from the BC lions in. They were here to perform in celebration, and did so incorporating some line dancing moves into their regular pom pom full routine. It very appropriate given the venue. I was hoping we as the guests would be given the opportunity to fall in lines and try some group line dancing ourselves. It would have been another one to cross off on my bucket list. Guess I have a good reason to come back. Back to the only place that would offer such an opportunity.


Their sit down dining area was located by the entrance. A step up, adjacent from the primary bar and the kitchen. From here you got a good look at their smoker. We would later get a behind the scenes look at it, as well as an exclusive tour of their kitchen. The above area was set dim, strung with small hanging bulbs of lights. Along with the television screen broadcasting old cowboy movies, it illuminated the section and made visible the cow patterned flooring underfoot. Splotches of black and white that the red leather upholstered booths and high top chairs stood on. Here, they spoke to their promise of blues music with a gallery of black and white photography. Framed photos of blues and country artists in performance against a handsome red brick wall.


The celebration of the music continued by the dance floor, with a vinyl record collection pasted on the wooden panelled wall, like wallpaper.


For their opening, there was a back drop with props to play out your cowboy fantasies. Dawn a straw woven cowboy hat, a red patterned bandana, and straddle a saddle propped on a stool, for a memorable photo. There were enough hats that many guests wore them to play cowboy and sheriff all night long.


But out of everything, I was most enamoured with the mechanical bull. As soon as he and I locked eyes I knew I would mount him not once but twice tonight. And I was determined to not break a nail while I was bucking around. It was the body and head of a rotund bull, surrounded by an air filled barrier. Like a bouncy castle without the trampoline.
Monday through Wednesday they have live music. And during their weekends they turn the western on with country and rock tunes, and this mechanic saddle for some bull ridding. It is definitely a recommendation for a girls night out. There is an innuendo to the whole thing that have women turning 30 and brides celebrating stagettes flocking to such an attraction. I mean they did make it tempting to host your party here. A reserved table at no extra charge and no cover charge for all those invited, free line dancing lessons from their staff, and a free mechanical bull ride for your entire party. The birthday-bride also gets a complimentary cowboy hat in celebration. It had me contemplating when would be appropriate to have such a night out.


Mechanical bull riding is glamourized in movies and on television, landing it on many people’s things to-do list. And the “Yale” is the only place downtown that lets you check it off. This would be my first time. A young man manned the station behind a pedestal of controls. You showed identification and signed a waver: if you get hurt, the bar is not liable. You go on at your own risk, fully aware that the whole point of the activity is to out last a jerky machine, programmed with the intention to whip you off and down by force. Hopping on is challenging if you aren’t very fit, or like me, lack upper body strength, with the ability to lift yourself up and on to the saddle. The “bull” operator was kind enough to give me a hand, or leg. On bended knee he allowed me to use his thigh as a stool. Though during the second time around, full of liquid courage and off the high of doing it once before, I was able to hop on myself. Before my first ride I enlisted his help, asking of for tips and tricks on how to out last the machine. You hold on with one hand, using both could potentially lead to you clock yourself in the face, so should the bull jerk that way. Then from there it is negotiating your balance and reacting the the machine. When you were swung one way, you have to tilt to the other, then rebalance yourself back at centre as soon as possible. This was the trickiest and not doing so soon enough is what resulted in you loosing your balance and tipping off. Extending your legs and asserting your bicep strength to hold on helped. The settings vary with a “sexy” mode for those scared to fall, but wanting a taste of the experience. “Sexy mode” is basically the machine swerving back and forth under you, like a women swaying her hips to the beat at a night club. The ride typically starts from here, then cascades to the point where it is obvious that the “bull” wants you off its back. The fall is inevitable, but just as fun as the ride itself. You are still holding on tight to the braided rope, so it is your bottom that lands on the mattress of air. Despite the exhaustion, the trembling after, or any rope burn and chafing, you immediately want to try again. To best your time, especially if it is your first. By the night’s end I had ridden it twice with a combined time of 50 seconds. I was proud, having won a prize the second time around. And proudly walking away with battle scars. Scars in the form of a bruise in my inner thigh from the thick braid putting pressure in between my legs, and the soreness I experienced the days after. Worth it, to say I have lived and done it.


A country western bar isn’t the same without some good barbecue. And their entry into the game comes with one of the biggest smokers in Vancouver. This one was affectionately named “Gator”, by their executive chef, who shared his nickname with it. He was kind enough to give us a run down of his operation and a behind the scene look at what he loves to do day to day. He opened the stainless steel door of the smoker to reveal a slow rotating wheel of grill racks. From what I could make out, they were smoking full rack of ribs and others meats wrapped in tin foil. The smoker is stacked with logs of wood. The wood is not what cooks the meat, they are used to accent it with their scent and flavour. Hickory, cedar, cheery and pine from the Okanagan. Three hours the meat sits in brine, three hours more it sits and slow cooks in the smoker. The chef sprays the meet to keep its surface moist. This is how they make proper slow-smoked meats with their homemade rubs and sauces.


Just past this is their kitchen. Line cooks were back here tonight prepping the appetizers that would soon be passed around to the guests. Slider buns being squirted with sauce and brisket being sliced under a heat lamp. We were gifted a taste of some of the most succulent meat I have ever had. This was quality melt in your mouth meat, made all the more tender with its pockets of fat. No sauce needed it was full of flavour. I could have eaten the whole mound with bare hands, if given the chance.

Their menu is a celebration of good meat just like the above. Barbecue platters of pulled pork, brisket, hot links, and side ribs. With all the traditional sides of course: coleslaw, baked beans, potato salad, and corn bread. They put their spin on this and other bar classics like soups and salad, wings, nachos, burger and sandwiches, and full entrees. A salad with corn nuts, a quinoa bowl with beans and their own smoked tomato vinaigrette, grilled cheese with BBQ chicken and caramelized onions, a chopped chicken burger with a buttermilk ranch sauce, and the ability to add smoked meat to practically anything.

Don’t mind the darkness of the food photos below. At such a setting I rather not turn on my flash and blind others. Plus it is a more accurate account of the experience. I eat the food in a darken setting and want you, the reader to experience what I do, as I do.


“Jalapeño corn bread”. Moist nuggets, like spongy cake bites, but with the gentle sting of some spicy jalapeños to kick it up a notch.


“Baked Mac n’ Cheese”. Elbow macaroni heavily coated in velveeta melted cheese, then breaded in cornflakes for the perfect crunch. Heaven on a stick and the perfect accompaniment to drinks. It was served with their homemade chunky ketchup-like dipping sauce, for those in need of tomato with their cheese.


The “Pulled pork” sliders were made with slow cooked pork shoulder, crunchy slaw, and jalapeño mayo on a brioche bun. It was definitely a multiple napkin burger. They were generous with the moist maker sauce, I didn’t miss any of it when glops of it fell to the floor within my first bite. The spice was a slow burn balanced by the heaviness of the cream. The bun was good, but I would have liked less of it to better highlight the pork.


“Side ribs”. They were easy to eat as the meat fell of the bone. Great as is and better with a thick and sweet barbecue sauce.


And we had plenty of rye and ginger cocktails to wash it all down with. Because really, what else do you order at a country bar other than whiskey?


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.
I could definitely see myself back here for dinner with my partner and dancing with my girls. They are bringing something new to the area and people are eating it up. The bull riding and line dancing are ones to stop by and try, and the barbecue platter is one to lust over. For a low-key fun night, without the need to dress up, this is one that I would recommend for a good time. I have already promise my partner that I will take him back to try their barbecue, so expect a more comprehensive post on the food, soon. Don’t deny your cravings.


1300 Granville Street, Vancouver BC, V6Z 1M7
The Yale Saloon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Devil’s Elbow Ale & Smoke House


Some seriously good Happy Hour deals: $1 a slider!


I have heard great things about this place, so when looking for a happy hour spot, I jumped at trying their $6, $6, $6 offers. Wine, beer, and appetizers at $6 each.

Walking up to the building, the window read “beer, bacon, bourbon”, I thought, “this is promising”. The building was black in cast iron with their logo in red, a muscular forearm lifting a trident in the air. Though I guess it must be a pitch fork, because that is the devil’s weapon of choice.


When you walk inside, the scents made good on the promise the window declared. It smelled like malty liquor, cured meat, and salt. It made you thirsty and hungry at the same time. The interior was rugged like you would expect for a smoke house. The words “Devil’s Elbow” was stencilled on one of the bleached wood, alcove seating areas. Adjacent to it was a wooden canoe suspended from the ceiling. It held a place in the corridor separating the more rowdy bar area (especially with the hockey game on) from the more quite dining area, just before the kitchen pass. The canoe was certainly an eye catching conversation starter. The rustic theme continued on with their heavy bar in both look and stock, their open ceiling exposing wires and ducts, and the unfinished brick meets wood look on select walls. I liked the energy of the place, especially with the rotation of 90’s top charters. Like Alanis Morisette’s “ironic”, No Doubt walking on “spiderwebs”, and TLC taking about “scrubs”. It all certainly had our server dancing in the isles.

We went through the happy hour food menu with gusto, and thankfully our server was kind enough to warn us that we had asked for was a lot of food. She advised us to keep with the four dishes below, even though we wanted more. Like the fried catfish entree that they were sold out of, so early in the afternoon.

When one of the kitchen staff delivered our dishes one of the pork purses rolled off the plate. She simply said that we lost one. We didn’t move wondering what she would do. She insisted that the table was clean and suggested we just pick it off the table and place it back on to the plate. We complied and ate it, as I am not to fussy, but is that really the correct course of action when such a thing happens? I don’t know about you? But there have been many occasion where I have seen tables wiped down with a communal cloth, a rag that doesn’t get rinsed off or rung out between uses. Who is to say that this table is really clean after a wipe from one of those. Though I am highly sensitive to this sort of thing. That’s why I got out of the restaurant industry when I did.


“Pulled pork purses” with smoked pork butt, smoked bacon, cabbage, and zesty honey BBQ sauce. $6 between 3-6pm, regularly there are $11. These were my favourite of the night. They were surprisingly deep fried parcels stuffed full, I expected white steamed buns. They were crispy on the inside and crunchy on the outside. The sauce and green onion gave each bite a sweet and salty Asian feel.


The “Brisket sliders” were filled with house smoked beef brisket, tangy coleslaw, and sesame seeds in a toasted brioche bun. We didn’t expect there to be six of them. Given the $6 price and it being happy hour , I expected the plate to only come with three. Especially since they are normally $10 for three. Or else we were given a bonus by mistake? These little bundles were a mouthful, full of tender barbecue meat and tangy coleslaw. It definitely highlighted the smokiness of the brisket.


The “Kettle chips with maque choux” was house made potato slices paired with southern style corn salsa. Salty chips and sweet corn. Some chips were too salty, but their great texture made up for it. They were the perfect base for the soft corn to be scooped up with.


The “Mac and cheese corn bread” side was not a part of the happy hour specials, but it was a side that we couldn’t pass up at $4. Especially with our server promoting it. And besides when you are going for southern fare you usually stop for corn bread. Though this was not what we were expecting. It was far too dense. Dense from all the carbs, dense from the combination of pasta and corn meal. The melty cheese sauce and fresh tomato chunk topping helped a little to add moisture, but I didn’t find both very complimentary to its base. I rather-ed a helping of regular corn bread and a small bowl of mac and cheese, separate.

Our several actually did the same with “orange crush”, she over sold it like the Mac and cheese corn bread. She made it seem like it was their own homemade batch of orange crush. Though in reality it was nothing special, just regular orange soda. Or else we wouldn’t have gotten a glass to try. At least she is good at her job and a great sales man. And/or we don’t have the same tastes.

We of course weren’t able to finish all the food, so had most of it packed to go, but sadly they didn’t have any bags to put the cardboard containers into, and the sauce and oil ended up leaking on to my car seats. It is also nice to note that although we were done eating, our food was packed to go, and we had paid in full; our server continued to tend to us, she stilled poured us water and check in on our welfare. In general she seemed really into her job. We watched her continuously dancing and singing along to the music as she checked on all the tables, one after the other like a circuit. She was in a great mood and had set the tone for ours.


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.
Happy hour was so impressive that I want to come back to try the rest of their menu. My partner is a big fan of barbecue meats, and has asked that I bring him back after he had my leftovers and really enjoyed the beef in the sliders and the pork in the purses. I agreed having had my eye on their “smoked BBQ meat platter”. It comes with pulled pork, beef brisket, pork back ribs, and your choice of two sides. We would choose the IPA Mac and cheese and garlic mashed potatoes over the chilled potato salad, coleslaw, baked beans, or creamed corn. And if this isn’t enough food, for $20 more you can get their larger meat platter that comes with A half smoked chicken, pulled pork, beef brisket, pork back ribs, and your choice of four sides. Don’t deny your cravings.


562 Beatty Street, Vancouver BC
Devil's Elbow Ale And Smoke House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

KYO Korean BBQ & Sushi House


We were finally trying the all you can eat option at “Kyo”. And were delighted to not only have an extensive meat and vegetable list to cook on a grill, but a full menu of sushi and Japanese appetizers to choose from as well.

The restaurant was located on a second floor that required a walk up a steep flight of steps. Even though the entrance is just a door, it is eye catching. Enough to stop those passing by with its wood and glass finish, and it’s striking name in bold brush strokes.


Inside, the restaurant is spacious, they sought to accommodate larger groups across different tables. Tables of four, six, and even twelve. One had imitation plants and fake foliage surrounding it. Another, was in an area with a vaulted ceiling; and hanging above were several large orbs wrapped in white ribbon that dangled down like jellyfish tentacles. Larger parties definitely took advantage of the space and were allowed to enjoy their time in loud jovial conversation. There was a 1.5 hour maximum stay policy, but they weren’t very strict with it, especially with around 30 tables or so available. We grabbed one of the tables for six that came with two coils to cook off of and to share from.


You order off a sheet of paper. Fine print under various categories with the quantity of a serving in brackets. If you order the sashimi, it’s one piece; similarly was every serving of sushi. Though the speciality rolls came in slices of 8 and the teriyaki meats came as 4-5 pieces covered in sauce.


We started aggressively on the meat options, ordering multiple orders of chicken, pork, and beef that came in pieces of five. Everything was seasoned similarly with only a notable difference between spicy and mild. It was good, but it would have been nice to have some dipping sauces to company it with. Especially as we weren’t the best at-your-table-grill chefs and ended up burning a few of our initial attempts. And as a result we saw the need for fork and knife, as pulling at hard food between chopstick and teeth is quite difficult. I then wished they were smaller cuts of meat, though that would only make them burn all the more quicker. We took turns cooking, gripping the tongs, flipping various cuts, and serving one another. Honey and garlic pork, black pepper beef short ribs, and spicy lamb were a few of the meats.


The raw vegetables ironically came a little after. They took longer to cook up and therefore required more time on the grill. There they stayed until black with grill marks, whereas the meat was a quicker process for fear of overcooking. The corn was 1/3 of a cob, they came out sweet and crispy. The eggplant was soggy, the peppers crunchy, and the zucchini refreshing. They helped give us much needed breaks from all the meat we ordered.


We also ordered seafood that came piece by piece. Prawn, squid, salmon, and mussels. We wished the prawns were shelled as they were hard to crack right off the grill, the squid was actually cuttlefish and still sandy, and the mussels didn’t cook right shell side up or down. The salmon was the best one on the grill and made the most sense. Though all in all we found the meat above more appetizing and when doing seconds avoided all the seafood section all together.


There was also many cooked sides to choose from. The teriyaki chicken was a little on the sweeter side, it would have been nicer with some rice. The Korean japche noodles were bland alone, but best as another side to the barbecue meats.


Under the “deep fried” section had “corn cakes” and “mochi”. The corn croquettes were both sweet and savoury, highlighting the natural sweetness of corn. We all agreed that this was our favourite and that we could eat 100 pieces of these. “Delightful” was the word that was tossed around.
The mochi was most enjoyable for its texture. A nice chew to go with that crispy first break into breading. Though all it all, it just tasted like you were eating empty carbs.


The “Scallop kaarage” was over fried, you picked up more of the char flavour than the mild seafood one. And when you could taste it, the scallop tasted more like moulded fish, or something that started off frozen. We also looked for that distinctive soft and stringy scallop texture, but we never got it. It was like mash. Some tartar sauce would have been nice.
The “veggie spring roll” were average at best and oily at most, all I got was its crispy texture. It tasted like the filling was all bean sprouts. And as with the other deep fried items, this would have been better with a dip, in this case something sweet and sour, like the traditionally paired plum sauce.


The “smelt” was fried end to end. The small fish was salty like anchovies, and just not for us.
The “deep fried gyoza” was listed under the “appetizer” section. It looked and tasted more like deep fried wontons with overly fried heavy and heavy edges. More like an oily cracker than a meat filled bundle. You couldn’t taste the filing or any thing past the wrapper.


The regular gyoza was a lot better. It was nice to have it as expected, with its doughy wrapper covering it meat ball filling.
They had zucchini, carrot, and squash tempura. We stuck with the yam. This did come with a sauce, and in hind sight we cold have used it with the other deep fried foods above.


They also had maki rolls, sashimi, cones, and nigiri by the piece which they labeled as “sushi”. But everyone knows you don’t fill up on rice and carbs when doing all you can eat. However I couldn’t pass up the ability to try their aburi sushi. “Aburi” is nigiri sushi with its fish topping partly grilled and partly left raw. This is often done so with a torch. “Aburi salmon with miso sauce”, “aburi tuna with miso sauce, “aburi Saba”, “aburi Thai with unagi sauce, and aburi hamachi”. They did not disappoint. For those like me, who like sushi, but don’t like the texture of sashimi, this is a way you get the best of both worlds with a tolerable texture. The sauce was like icing on the creamy fish.
The “chopped scallop” cone was regular and the spicy tuna underwhelming on its tiny single serving plate.


For the dessert they had mango pudding and jello, both pre-made and both ready to be served in individual bowls. The mango pudding was full of sweet tropical mango flavour. Both it and the jello were great light and refreshing ends to finish on. The jello was cut into easy to handle squares, they had a good ratio of gelatine to water, that kept them firm. It could however have used a scoop of vanilla ice cream for that perfect bite. Similarly the mango pudding could have used a splash of evaporated milk for moisture.

As impressed as I was over the extensive menu, the staff had me less excited. There were enough of them to service the handful of tables that were occupied during our stay, and the work they were to perform didn’t involve conversation or much interaction. Yet we were often kept waiting. My guest wasn’t able to track down enough employees to take full advantage of the all you can drink fountain coke he order. Not that it was worth it, they called it coke but it must have been a no name make or flat, as it didn’t taste all that good, or like cola. Then during the first round, our cooked food order went missing with the need for them to make sure that we indeed didn’t get it. Though we didn’t understand what the big deal is, it is all you can eat, we can just order more. And when trying to get a new sheet to order of off, it was especially hard to gain attention. I could have sworn two separate staff members saw me, we met eyes, yet on both occasions they turned and walked away. I was even waving with both arms in the air. My five other guests can vouch for me that this was the perceived case. We then had a repeat with trying to get and pay off our bill. At one point we saw three staff members just congregating with their backs towards us, facing their hostess booth’s wall, with their visibility blocked off.


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.
I will definitely come back because we didn’t get to try all of it. There was too much variety. I would suggest doing this one across two different settings. One time just for their barbecue aspect, the next for their sushi and Japanese appetizers. Both were good. All you can eat sushi and Korean BBQ for $30. Don’t deny your cravings.


2993 Granville Street, Vancouver BC, V6H 3J6
Kyo Korean BBQ & Sushi House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gyu-Kaku Japanese Barbecue


It was 2pm and we wanted all you can eat Korean BBQ. Most places close from 3-5pm for dinner prep. Our search for so open place eventually yielded “Gyu-Kaku”. They weren’t Korean BBQ and they weren’t all you can eat, but they had a really good Japanese BBQ and a great happy hour menu, which ended up being just as good and just as cost efficient. But I will get more into that later.


The restaurant was the second floor of a building complex along Broadway. Their row of red flags flying marked the place. Though getting their would be tricky. The complex comes with its own parkade, it’s entrance was right off the main road, you would miss it if you didn’t know. Although there is sufficient parking right out front and around the corner during specified times.


Inside, the restaurant is fairly new, with simple patterns and strong lines the restaurant looked modern. Brown and black all over. They had lamp shades branded with their logo, a Japanese quote in red and black splashed across the wall, and walls dedicated to the display of Polaroids. The instant photos were hung by clips and were strung up on a line. They were captured of staff members in their branded black tee uniforms and customers enjoying the space.


Each seating arrangement was set up like a booth, benches on either ends of the attached table. Each table had its own heat source built into it and a water tap installed overhead. One was necessary for the other, for safety reassurances. All seats were arranged around the metal grill and the protective gold ring around it. Between tables were cut-out wire separators, they provided breathing space and the sense of privacy between seating arrangements. They also dual functioned as a way to post specials. Though this barrier only separated the table top space, you still had to worry about seating and the actions of others. We had to move down a booth because a fellow diner felt it appropriate to have her bare feet on the seat and encroach the personal bubble of my guest. That was not very appetizing.

Our server was friendly, he introduced himself by name, which isn’t typical at most Asian restaurants that I have been too. He was soft spoken and polite. He didn’t make small talk, but made sure to do laps around us in case we needed anything of him.

After taking our order he set the barbecue process up for us. He greased the rack with oil before allowing us to grill on it. And mid way through our meal, when we had over sullied the rack by burning too much meat on it, he removed it with tongs into a specially designed bucket. He then replaced it with a fresh clean grill plate and a fresh coat of oil for us to work with. This was repeated once again before our dessert course as well.

The menu was made up of various laminated and coloured signs. The pictures allowed you to see what you are getting. Coming during happy hour was an effective way to test out the menu without committing and paying too much. Our logic is, if the inexpensive stuff is good the more pricier stuff should be even better.


We ordered several dishes as part of their happy hour deals. All the meat came raw and we cooked them as they arrived. Therefore I cannot guarantee the accuracy of meat to picture. I will blanket my post by saying the cooking process is just as important as the eating itself. The enjoyment we had and the time we took to put meat on grill, and to serve one another was almost just as satisfying as eating. Having to cook for yourself elongates the dining experience. You spend more time in the company of your guests. You spend more time socializing in between bites. You spend more time on one another.


As for the food, everything was flavourful and if anything was over or under cooked, we only had ourselves to blame. Though we did feel that the meat looses a lot of its flavour once it is cooked through. However we were able to use the available sauces as an easy remedy of this. All the meat looked and tasted like good cuts, we cooked them to our ideal tenderness. This is defiantly a fun activity to engage in with larger groups. The more people around the grill, the more food, and the more fun.


The “Chicken basil” would be a wise one to start with. Especially as the chicken was the least flavourful when compared to the others. Though it lacked flavour overall, it didn’t have enough time to properly marinade. It also didn’t have enough oil, this it constantly getting stuck on the grill. The chicken comes in either basil, spicy miso, or yuzu sauce. Basically, the three sauces everything else came in as well.


“Filet mignon ponzu”.


“Bistro hanger steak miso”.


“Yaki-shabu tartar”.


“Spicy pork”.


The “Toro beef tare” was easy to identify because they referred to it as “beef bacon”. It was an accurately descriptive name.


On top of happy hour they were also advertising their “yakiniku fest” from July 7 to September 7. On it was New York steak for cheap, so we had to order s serving. Despite all the deals, there were so many specials, that it was all so confusing to wrap our heads around.


The “fried gyoza dumplings” was also part of happy hour. It was fried to order with a crispy skin. It was served with a nice sesame sauce for dipping. It had the same filling as the steamed gyoza.


The Mushroom medley and Broccoli offered us a way to take a break from all the meat. A side of veggies. Both were served wrapped in tin foil and goes straight onto the grill. This was a little harder to cook perfectly, given we couldn’t see its colour change and we didn’t have a timer. Over cooked or not, our fault or not, we finished both.

We also had the “Happy hour set menu” at $49.95 for two. This saved us $13 on everything that it came with.


Miso soup for two with cubes of tofu and sheets of seaweed.


The “Gyu-kaku salad” was a mix of lettuce, shredded cabbage, daikon, cucumber slices, cherry tomato, and boiled egg. It wasn’t anything special, but given the amount of meat we went through, this was a nice break and refreshing pause.


The “Steamed chilli dumplings” were delicious. Juicy pork coated in chewy dough, topped with chunky chilli, roasted garlic, and fresh green onions.


The “Sukiyaki bibimbap” was your typical rice bowl cooked at your table. The server tosses everything together with a raw egg right before your eyes. He then presses the mixture against the bowl to further cook it. The stone bowl is heated and the rice continues to cook within it. This made for good filler. The rice was tasty and delaying the cooking process longer crispened at our table for a nice crunchy texture. However my guest stumbled upon a bone by way of tooth, it was an unpleasant surprise that turned him away from further scoops. It also really wasn’t great with the barbecue meats. It already had beef in it and it was already pretty tasty.


Not on the specials menu, but on the regular one: one of my guests ordered the “sweet onion”. It was literally a chopped up raw onion for around $2. In hind sight, this wasn’t a bad order, but instead one that should have been ordered much sooner. Cooking it alongside the meat above would have lent both additional flavour. Instead this was ordered towards the end, and we watched him eat almost a whole, partially grilled onion by himself.


The “Yaki onigri” was a solid brick of rice shaped like a rectangle. It was also part of the regular menu. It was meant to be cooked on the grill like everything else. However it being such a thick mound of rice, only the surrounding seeds toasted on the grill, and we had to remove the onigri prematurely before the seeds burnt. What we were left with was just steamed rice.


I was impressed that even their desserts utilized the grill. The “Taiyaki pancake” was a sweet dough fish filled with red bean paste. We were given a new grill plate and instructed to set the fish down for two minutes to cook on both sides. It never went golden brown, went pale to black so we removed it from heat without a thorough cooking. The filling was whipped smooth red bean. It’s texture and taste is best likened to sweet refried beans.


With all the heat from all the grills and the warmth of a hot day we also ordered ice cream to cool down. Much needed before we went back out to brave the heat of a summer’s day. The ice cream made for a great sauce with the red bean pancake. The black sesame tasted like roasted peanuts.


The “Maple syrup gyu-kaku ice cream” was maple syrup and powdered malt mix over vanilla ice cream. Tasted exactly as it is described.


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.
This was better than the all you can eat meal we were originally planning to go to. And the prices here came out to be better too: $23 per person for happy hour here, instead of the $25-27 per person for all you can eat else where. We had lots, but not the point of being stuffed, nor did we feel like we had to eat more than we could because it was all you can eat. This was a good amount of food, with a good variety of meats. And although they were seasoned similarly, they all looked different and tasted differently after cooking. And at $2-4 per plate, you can go wrong even if you didn’t like it. I would recommend this best on a cold day, as a nice way to warm up and enjoy an interactive meal with good friends. Don’t deny your cravings.


#201-950 W. Broadway, Vancouver BC, V5Z 1K7
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Hanwoori Korean Restaurant


Tonight this was our destination for some cook-it-yourself Korean BBQ. The restaurant was pretty regular inside and out. Designed for function there was not much to describe in terms of aesthetics. Even the Christmas lights with its pine trim was kept up all year long for practicality. You turn it on to celebrate, otherwise it stays off the rest of the year. 


Seating was either on a spacious cushioned booth or within an individual room, like a cubicle with four walls and a sliding door. The latter, a perfect solution for any large and especially rowdy party. But only a few seats came equipped with a table top stove, a prerequisite for the barbecue process. After all, they have plenty of other Korean cuisine classics if you weren’t keen on cooking your own meal, or wearing the scent of barbecue on you all day. 


The menu showcased the various barbecue combinations first. The success of each was dependant on the number in your party or the cuts of meat you desired. In general such places only offer finer cuts of meat, so you end up paying for what you get. We chose the smallest of such combinations suggested for 2-3 diners. “BBQ combination A” which included prime beef ribs, sliced beef, chicken, and spicy pork marinated in their house special bbq sauce. 


Along with all the red meat came various cooked vegetarian sides, a common sight at most Korean restaurants and a perk for dining at them. A simple broth and a green salad with shredded lettuce. We also each got a bowl of rice, served in a metal container with a lid. It helped to balance out all the protein, and give the base for the food you craved.


Julienne pickled daikon and bean sprouts with shredded carrot and cucumber. 


Boiled potato in a sweet sauce and pickled assorted vegetable including cucumber and radish. 


Spicy kimchi with pickled cabbage and steamed broccoli with a brown tangy sauce.


The cooking is done with the electric heat source, built right into the table, a covered hole with the dials to control the temperature located on the side of the table. After ordering their barbecue selection the server sets things up for you. The lid is replaced with a metal coil. A protective ring is placed around it, to prevent you from sticking your hand too close and burning yourself. 


The meat arrives sorted into lumps on the same large plate. The prime beef rib was served on the bone, with sharpened scissors our server cuts things down to size. Rectangular cuts she then places directly on to the coil, after first greasing it with the tiny cube of butter provided. The meat starts to sizzle, it cooks quick, a few flips and you are ready to eat. It smells delicious. Using the tongs provided you serve each other from grill to plate. The above process is repeated yourself for the rest of the remaining meat. If you weren’t sure how to do it all before, the demo from the server helps. Half the dining experience is grilling yourself and conversing with your guest as you do. Though it does get troublesome as you can’t fully immerse yourself in enjoying the actual dining part of dinner. You are force to watch the rack in case things burn. Dropping chopsticks for tongs, having the food before you cool down, all in order to have meat continuously coming off the grill in a timely manner. Taking turns on cooking helps. But better yet, come with someone who actually enjoys the activity portion of Korean BBQ, someone who doesn’t mind serving you. 


The short ribs were my favourite. I usually save the best for last, and this was definitely the best cut out of the four as part of the “BBQ Combo A”. But seeing as the server placed it on the grill for us, there was no going back now. Each piece was juicy with just the right amount of tenderizing fat. 


Chicken with button mushrooms. 


Sliced beef. 


Spicy marinated pork. 


My guest was keen on this Korean delicacy. “Yukhwae”, shredded raw beef marinated in seasoned sesame oil. Given that it was essentially just raw beef I was paying for, I was glad that there was some thought put into its presentation, though they do shortly mix it all together at your table. And when they do it all looks a little less appetizing. We paid $22.95 for raw ground beef, raw garlic, raw turnip, and raw egg. If you think about it, you can get lean ground beef from superstore for $3.89, though I am sure it is no where near as fresh as the serving we were having now. I did think it a little weird, but as an indiscriminate food blogger I go with the flow and am willing to try almost anything. (For the record I can’t do snails, sea cucumber, and wilted or soggy leafy green vegetables.) The shredded turnip provided some texture, a crunch; and the Yuzu leaves gave it some spice, more than just a sesame flavouring. We imagined it sweet, but it wasn’t. It tasted like how you would expect it to. It is like how you imagine eating raw beef would be, texturally. I personally didn’t like it as I am a textural eater and I need crunch in my savoury. This was all mash. We did not finish it. Seeing as there was already an egg in the mix, my guest took the leftovers home to make hamburgers with.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
The activity was enjoyable and the seasonings on everything was good. If we didn’t like anything, we only had ourselves to blame, as we were the ones to do the actual cooking. The restaurant itself was not a stand out for me. Aside from the rooms it was all pretty standard and all available at many other like Korean restaurants, featuring the possibility for barbecue. Don’t deny your cravings.


5740 Imperial Street, Burnaby BC, V5J 1G2
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Sura Korean BBQ Restaurant Richmond


This is my first request post. I love it when someone invites me to visit their favourite restaurant, and I in turn am able to give an insightful review on it. I have not lighten my opinions, nor have I steered my writing in any way. Like myself this is written in utter honesty, the only way I know how to be and how to write.

We almost didn’t get past the congested underground parking of Aberdeen Mall. Tight corners, tighter stalls, intersections with no rules, and pedestrians who didn’t care where they walked. It has certainly lost my future business. I was stuck behind a stop sign waiting for the endless line of cars entering and exiting. Neither rows allowing a parked car to reverse from its stall. The term gong show came to mind.

When we finally stopped, a lengthly walk around the newer, still spacious mall was required in search for our lunching destination. We wished for a mall directories readily available between busy crossroad. The restaurant’s entrance was through the mall. A muted exterior with simple lines, its name in block font, and its showcased menu on display to peak your interest. With an open doorway leading to an open space, you were allowed a peer in before you made any commitment to eat. We were greeted upon entry. A unison hello in what I can only assume was Korean.


The room was scattered with lowered tables and attached benches. A row against the wall to ceiling windows, and another paralleled a few feet away. Both rows were winding to match the curvature of the space. The tables were all joined together, a continuos bench with table tops built in intermittently. No barriers, no back support, a clear view of your neighbours an arm’s length away. This allowed for versatile seating. Couples and family or large parties of ten. For a bit more distance, choose the booths. They were staggered with patrons sitting back to back as apposed to side by side in the row before. And these were separated by a barrier too far to lead on, but far enough to create separation. Each dark wood bench was patterned with coloured cushions in an alternating pink, yellow, and blue. Cushions that had actual bulk, and actually gave bottom support from the solid hard wood beneath. I suspect this would not be for long through continuous use. In fact at the table next to ours they doubled up on pillow consumption for that added luxury. Each table arrangement had a covered cooking coil and a metal tap, to cook your food and put out any would be fires.


The room as a whole was new, a clean space with a modern design. Void of artwork or contrast, it allowed the view from the windows and the vaulted ceilings to speak for themselves. We appreciated having a view, but not necessarily what it was off. The entrance to the mall, an empty space of tiled concrete and plant life creeping up from between the cracks. We wished for some panache. A plant, a bench, a water feature. Instead it was this, a sad nothingness, so we people watched those at the restaurant across the way.


I was impressed by the utensils. The usual metal indicative of Korean cuisine, but painted in a dull brassy gold. It felt fancy, and consistent with all the dish ware that matched one another.


The menu was easy to navigate, with lots of coloured photos, and clear defined sections, well designed for novices like ourselves. Though we did wish for were more details, what was in the dish? in English. We were in specifically for the barbecuing of Korean BBQ, only to be disappointed by the limited selection. Given “BBQ” is in the title we had hope for a feature, a lunch special, a nod to its name and respect to the promise it proposed. We came in wanting to barbecue, wanting to do it ourselves, wanting it at our table; all as part of our dining experience. In reality there were more kitchen cooked dishes than BBQ items available. And looking around of the room no one else was barbecuing. It almost seemed like the coils and taps built in were wasted. The five options that were available were pricer cuts of finer meats. At $28 for the least expensive portion we decided to split our ordering between hot food and BBQ.

The set courses peaked our interest and seemed like the best value. Two courses at either $15 or $20 per person. Having it required a minimum of two orders that may be subjected to change seasonally, and is only available until 3pm. It seemed like a lot of rules, with no substitutions allowed and nothing off this list could be ordered separately. A take it or leave it sort of deal. A new one, where other establishments are bending over backwards to make it your way. So instead we walked away from the obvious good deal to order less and share more.


At first glance our $28 portion seemed small. This was not enough to feed two as our server mentioned. Though seeing the soup, sides, and rice that it came with; then trying a piece we began to see the value in what we were having. The coil was heated, a ring around the grill was put into place, and oil was brushed on. The heat source for cooking functioned doubly as a heat source for warming, given our sandwiching between it and the chill of the window pressed against us.


“Royal Galbil”, beef short ribs. The meat came prescored, arranged delicately as a whole, with scissors accompanying to cut things down to size. We voted that the “farm girl” in our group would do the cooking, being most familiar with beef. Only to have our server walk by and settle in to help us do it “right”. She was concerned that the smaller portions we precut would burn quickly and that we weren’t getting the most for our money. As a result she stood by the end of our table and began cooking for us on the spot. We felt spoiled with our own at table chef. She stopped to flip our meat and stayed to supervised. Such personal service. She kept the meat whole, only cutting when it was time to divide it between three. She even went a step further, doling out portions on to each plates. We were surprised how quick the whole barbecue process was, so fast that you missed out on the action and could have easily burned your meat. The beef short ribs was really well seasoned, with a simple hint of salt. All its delicious flavour was from the premium meat.


Our order came with a couple things. A few mushroom caps came on the original plate, and our chef bought us extra, allowing everyone to have two. We were informed that when the caps were done they would be filled with water. It was here that we wondered how we would survive without her supervision. How do other guests barbecue without written instructions, or without being given an explanation from their server prior to. We were just luckily that ours was attentive.


Quail’s egg, cuts of beef, whole garlic cloves, seasonings, and slices of jalapeño in a dark sauce. All this in a small metal bowl was allowed to boil at the edge of our grill. Once cooked the ingredients were delicious as is and the drippings made for a good dip. We just wished that the sauce cooked quicker so that we could have used it with the meat. It would have also been nice to get additional vegetables on top of the mushroom caps, more to grill more to enjoy with the short ribs. Especially if this was or only order.


Our BBQ selection also came with a full order of soup. As with the others we were pleasantly surprised by this bonus, as the menu didn’t mention that we would get more than just the beef. In this spicy red broth was tofu, beef, zucchini, onion, enoki mushrooms, daikon, and jalapeño for spice. One of my guest declared this to be his favourite. The spice had a good kick and it ate like a meal with all the chopped vegetables at the bottom. Well cooked the vegetables were no where near mushy, instead they absorbed all the broth and made for a tasty bite. Eaten with the bowl of rice included it at like a meal.




As per all Korean meals, this too came with four sides, and a bonus two salads. We didn’t know what was included with which order, but we enjoyed it all just the same. Bean sprouts with red and green peppers, soften potato chunks, leeks in sauce, and kimchi. Each was bland, but made for a good add on to our entrees. A change of taste and a break from texture.


A red spicy salad flavoured with kimchi. And a raw salad used to be eaten as is, like a side of rice.


“Potato pancake”. This was a safe order. Crispy on the outside, chewy potato on the inside. Good, but it tasted like nothing more than a breakfast hash brown. I wanted ketchup. Our server suggested the seafood version the next time we would be in.


“Seafood rice cake”. Rice cakes with vegetables, mussels, squid, and prawn. We choose the more adventurous seafood order over the possibility of beef. Our server was once again attentive, she checked our spicy tolerance. I don’t like spicy foods as I feel it hides the dish behind a numb tongue. Even with a bright redness and a heavy coating of sauce, this was just right. Though the thicken sauce did make it a challenge to remove the tails off the prawns and to pry the mussels from their shells. Especially given our use of the flat and heavy metal chopsticks. The gummy texture of rice cakes is not for everyone. It’s takes multiple chews to get through and almost resembles rubber. I am one of those who likes it for that very reason.


“Stone bowl bibimbap”. I failed to snap a picture pre mixing, it bothered me. The rice was mixed on a cart in front of us. The mixing cooks the egg and the heat from the hot stone bowl fries the rice to a crisp. Although the rice was full of julienned vegetables, it was tasteless when eaten in conjunction with the other dishes before it. It unfortunately lost its taste in the mix, therefore I cannot give a fair assessment on this. It was hearty and impressively filled with numerous components.

Our server was really the highlight of our meal. She made the experience and made the meal memorable. She went that extra mile, giving us a run down on how to eat, with what utensils, and even off of which plates. She offered wooden chopsticks as an option in case the metal ones in their place proved to be impossible. And after keenly seeing us struggle with with grill and our meat cutting she stepped in to cook for us. This meant we got the best out of our barbecue, a lesson that would allow us to replicate the process in the future. And then when it was time to pay we appreciated how she didn’t bus the table when the bill was dropped off. She let us figure out our math, and cleaned up only after we left. Very professional, I wish I caught her name for proper recognition.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
The meal was without a doubt delicious, though the price debatable. Other than the set meal this would be an special occasion lunch or dinner. Not necessarily something you would indulge in on a day to day. We ate quickly going through everything, with a lot left over. It felt like we have tried everything and were perfectly content at the end. Though the spicy flavours had me wanting dessert, something sweet. Shame none was offered, no menu given out, or maybe there was none to be had? We ordered four dishes and had the number of dish ware tripled on us. Shame the occasion was soured by the having to park at the beginning and the needing to escape the lot at the end. Don’t deny your cravings.

4151 Hazelbridge Way Unit 1830, Richmond BC
Sura Korean BBQ Restaurant Richmond 수라 水刺間 on Urbanspoon

Potter’s Garden Korean BBQ

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For me, a writing experience is furthered when coupled with an expert opinion. This was such the case today, a Korean dinner with one my guests being of Korean decent. Now not only am I in the know for what is best, but am given insight to that which I otherwise dare not try. To be told if the food is as is should be and if it as authentic as advertised. As this was the case, I allowed her to order, trusting in her judgement and years of dining in this realm. We were here specifically for its proximity and it’s later opening hours, until 12am on a Monday night.

There was a struggle to locate the hidden restaurant. Part of a Korean grocery complex, but unexcessable by vehicle. I looped around the block a couple of times to learn this the hard way. At least the large lot allowed complimentary parking, which was only a few feet from the entrance. Past the Zumba studio and the pho restaurant adjacent. The exterior was pretty unspectacular. With Korean characters and the name “Potter’s Garden”. To a non speaker, you really didn’t know what you were getting into with its rainbow rimmed sign and no mention of food or service.


Inside its function was made more clear with their cash desk up front, and a peak into their kitchen from the window pass behind. In addition to the image of dishes made posted around the room. A four times the size cut out of BBQ short ribs on a hot plate; and prints of recommended dishes and Korean specials: done it paper print outs, laminated sheets, and cardboard posters. The decor was heavy with plants. Artificial or real I took no time to differentiate. White potted flowers on counters, vines wrapped around banisters, and the occasional plant heavy on the floor. An area was even sectioned off to allow for the accumulation of above mentioned greenery. A cluster similarly seen in a garden with pots and a planter. I can conclude this to be a possible explanation of their name: “Potter’s Garden”. Of lesser notice were the Korean artifacts: traditionally dressed dolls, wooden fixtures, and a window wrap depicting a scene from feudal times. Most noteworthy was the one Christmas decorations still up: a green and silver tinselled tree. I question the time it takes to keep festive and decorate relevantly. This homely touch, and the photo of what I can only guess is mother and daughter leads me to believe this to be family owned and operated.


The main dining room was to the right, where we were seated. With darkened private rooms to the left. This private rooms were left unoccupied, deserving of larger parties requesting extra privacy. Each dining room table was outfitted with a covered coil indicative of most do it yourself Korean BBQ places. A heat source to allow the barbecuing of our own cut meats and chopped vegetables, right at your table. It is as much of a dining experience as it is about the food. However a concern is the lack of ventilation and sprinklers overhead. A safety precaution at newer places with the same theme, but missing here. Against the two toned beige walls was a mounted television. The flat screen broadcasted live performances of Korean pop stars. The music playing overhead matched their vocals on screen. My guest verified they were of Top 40 quality.

I appreciate the menu’s detailed descriptions and key correspondingly labelled pictures. It allowed for easier navigation and the ability to check ingredients. Especially important as our other guest was vegan, and we were able to ask for customization of two dishes to lack its usual meaty component. As a nice touch their weighted metal utensils came wrapped. The spoon was reused but sanitized or given the perception of such with the formality of its waxy paper shield, specially labeled and branded for the restaurant. We opted not to BBQ for the unwanted desire of the process permeating our clothes. Although as soon as the one group lit their coil and began to cook, the smell of barbecue and singed meat filled the room.


Before ordering we had asked to be given a moment to further discuss. A minute grew to ten. And attracting help became a game needing the waving of arms and the meeting of eyes. All this only to later discover a buzzer mounted on the wall behind is. A helpful fact that could have been used had its existence been pointed out. To my Korean friend’s point: such is a commonality, though majority of the time it’s attached to the table, right by the jug of water you pour yourself. A point for increased visibility.


Complimentary sides: The kimchi was hard to split. The lettuce left in large chunks meant taking a bite and putting the rest back.


The sweetened potato was soft and crumbled under your tongue. A common sight and taste as a Korean starter.


The seaweed was a new spicy change. Peppery with a bit of chilli, its strong flavour helped to add taste to bland dishes.


The bean sprouts had a nutty taste, decent on its own, but better used as an accent to improve another.


“Japchae”, potato noodles stir fried with vegetables: black fungus, onion, zucchini, carrots, and peppers. We had this version without the usual cuts of beef for our resident vegan. This is my Korean staple, an order I enjoy more for the noodle’s jelly-like texture than its overall bland taste. More as a side, this could have used a main cut of meat.


Under the “Korean traditional food” portion of the menu was “Galbitang”. A soup made of beef short ribs simmered for a few hours with egg, green onion, and potato noodles. A new one for me, a favourite of my guest. She declares this a must order and here one of the better she has had. I appreciated the generous portion of ribs. The meat fell off the bone, and although its tendon and toughness proved challenging to chew, the seasoning was rich and on point. The broth was also not too thick, and evenly flavoured without the need of salt.


“Sundubu”, spicy red tofu soup with seafood and vegetables. Here the first miscommunication was made. We had ask this to be left as is with seafood to enrich the red spicy broth. Instead they kept it a tofu and onion soup. Without the seafood for accent the dish tasted watered down. Disappointing, but we let it go considering the following episode.

“Jajangmyeon”, stir fried noodles with a black soy bean sauce; was our second vegan friendly alteration. Something we clarified with the server and emphasized that we needed. There was quite the back and forth over this dish and the miscommunication surrounding it. Originally we were told by our server they had to cancel our order because they were unable to separate the meat component from the sauce. Then, who I assume was the owner or the manager by the way she spoke authoritatively and a matter of factly, came back to us and declared it had been already made and therefore cannot be cancelled. Here an argument ensued. We refused declaring our clear intention for the dish. Her rebuttal was that since it was done she can cancel the order at a 50% fee, declaring she had made a concession for us. What was disconcerting was the fact she suggested this mistake was our fault. A fault I was unwilling to take part of, having reminded and clarified the need for two vegan friendly options out of our four dishes ordered. I furthered refused to accept their reasoning that this was a barbecue restaurant and everything was with meat. A fact debatable after our vegan guest did her due diligence and called ahead to confirm her ability to participate in dinner. After almost calling the waiter to our table and potentially reprimanding him before us, the manager relented and agreed to leave the item off our table and its fee off our bill. After this battle for my rights she addressed all further communication to my Korean guest in Korean. We were later asked of we wish to replace our fourth order and given the explanation that the server was still new. Apologizes were exchanged in Korean and tip was given in full. Yes the right decision to support customer service was delivered at the end, but after what struggle? after what soiled experience?

We contemplated desserts, but those offered were the familiar Asian restaurant ice creams. A green tea block and a mango flower. We opted to take our sweet tooth else where in search for more traditional Korean desserts.

Curious, the sign in the women’s washroom asked for all used toilet paper to be placed in the trash can. A request I am unashamed to admit that I disregarded. Maybe the translation actual meant feminine hygiene products and sanitary napkins?

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
The bad first impression and my need to defend against an accusation aside, there was nothing worth revising in an out of the way plaza. The food was standard, the offerings predictable, and the prices varying from intermediate to steep. Despite this souring experience the dinner was salvage and redeemed upon payment received. Though I can’t help but think it was in part to my Korean guest speaking in her native tongue. The owner apologized for the miscommunication shifting it to her “new” server. My prickly sticking point was the accusation and the request to pay to have an order we didn’t order remove. This was a first for me and enough for me. Don’t deny your cravings.

5599 Kingsway, Burnaby BC, V5H2G3
Potter's Garden Korean BBQ 香辣里 on Urbanspoon

Back Forty Saloon


This was destination of my latest dinner, as chosen by a guest who has been before and loves the food. The bar is commonly identified by its its adjacency to BC Place, and it’s outdoor sign that read, “the past, the present, and the future walked into a bar, it was tense”. I can only imagine its draw after games, as a sports bar with great food.


I walked up to the entrance only to realize I could have parked for free in their lot, to the right. This I had missed this after paying for street side parking.


We were greeted at the door by a podium that was signed, “free range seating”. Given the abundance of empty tables available, this was a good idea. We chose a four top, only to switch to a larger group sized table when our party expanded. The place was furnished in rustic hardwood and faux leather. Grey dimpled booth couches lined the back wall, they allowed the seating of many tables sandwiched between them and high top stools. The central dining room was a good mix of high tops and regular tables. A good way to give the room some visual interest and their patrons some options. The back wall was covered with black and white framed photos and gold foiled framed paintings. A collect of history meet art in landscapes, portraits, quotes, and sketches.


To the right of the room was a row of three garage doors. When closed they made up the wall. When opened they merged to meet with the patio. I could see how a feature like this would make them very popular on the hotter days ahead. An open space that gave you the shade of being indoors with the heat and breeze of Vancouver’s summer.


The bar was mounted with flat screen televisions. It had a chalkboard wall use to advertise daily specials and upcoming events in coloured chalk. In its corner was a bell, I imagined it being rung boisterously for home team goals and points during sporting events. It probably remained for the old bar that existed before. Bottles were in rows and beers were on taps. Seating here was the same faux leather cushions on backless stools. And above them were lamps that looked like over sized light bulbs with their top cuts off. A barrel was used to store coasters and hold spray bottles by the nozzle. Overall the place had a very rustic feel. A homey space made comfortable with the country twang playing over head tonight.


All servers were dressed in “Back Forty” branded tees or tanks. The bar wasn’t especially busy on a Thursday so they occupied themselves with clean up and prep. Our server was seen sitting in an empty booth by the kitchen, wrapping utensils in napkins and binding each set with tape. With any eye contact or motion he would spring into action. I admired his ability to multitask and his desire to be proactive. He was attentive and checked in often on us and the status of our drinking. Where as other servers were seen sitting by the bar waiting to be called upon. They could have been on break, but with their uniforms on and being seen watching television, this wasn’t the best image.

Water was served in mason jars with a wedge of lemon. It seems the mason jar trend has yet to see its peak.


3 grasshopper wheat ales in their 24oz “silo” size. Now this was a beer. The steins were specially printed with their name and a moustache. When correctly taken to you mouth it appeared that you had a thick black moustache above your lip.

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“B40 smoked chicken wings” on special. Despite the menu, we were given only three flavours of wings to choose from. Though this might have been the case because they were on special. We got one of each: BBQ, honey garlic, hot. The wings were meaty, and each serving came with a heap. The smoking process made them tender and juicy. The BBQ had your typical tangy taste. The honey garlic was my favourite sticky and sweet. And the hot wasn’t hot, despite it being made with Frank’s red hot. We were given side plates to eat off of as we shared all the wings. Though without a bone bucket they quickly became a graveyards on our plates. A messy appetizer, luckily we were given wet ones ahead of time.


“Three smoked meat soft tacos”. Each soft taco shell is filled with my guest’s choice of pull pork over beef brisket, slaw, a chimichurri sauce, sour cream, Sriracha, and cilantro. As our server promised the pulled pork was amazing. Slow roasted it easily separated into strands, each with that smokey spice. Together each taco was zesty. The mix gave a good blend between savoury and fresh, with just the right amount of everything for balance.


Given a choice of sides he chose the macaroni salad over the fries, regular salad, or coleslaw. Pre made, the sauce was given a chance to be absorbed by the elbow macaroni. It was the only soft component in a mix of hard carrot chunks and not quite cooked mini broccoli florets. I found this a break away from all the heavy sauces and spices used in everything else. A palette refresher.

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“Back forty burger”, a 7oz beef patty, topped with mustard, B40 relish, mayo, lettuce, tomato, and pickle, all between a toasted Kaiser. Despite this being a BBQ place this tasted just like a regular burger that you can get at any fast food place or burger joint. I hind sight my guest should have added the double smoked bacon or aged white cheddar for $2 more, just to get more out of this entree.

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“Buttermilk fried chicken po’boy”. House made deep fried chicken in their house buttermilk batter, house slaw, mustard, and Sriracha, all between a toasted Kaiser. Our host got the same burger as she did during her first visit, she found it that good. The chicken was perfection. Deep fried with just the right amount of crunchy battered skin, yet moist like it had been smoked all day. The coleslaw and mustard gave the sandwich some zip and a creaminess for balance.

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I too had the same chicken in my “buttermilk fried chicken and waffles”. Belgian waffle, buttermilk fried chicken, double smoked bacon, a maple butter sauce, chicken gravy, and scallions. With two pieces of chicken as is, I was able to come to the same conclusion about its crispy skin and juicy meat. However there were spots where the skin had that overly fatty oily texture that is less appealing. Like the chicken the waffles were best as is. Thick and doughy you got that buttery maple syrupy sweetness that contrasted and complimented the saltiness of the chicken. The gravy wasn’t the traditional country gravy, the kind that goes well over lumpy potatoes or cheesy biscuits. Instead it had the maple syrup essence and something else that threw off the whole plate. The chicken was good, the waffle was good. But the gravy that was covering most of it wasn’t. I was unable to finish this and pick at what wasn’t touching any of the pooled sauces at the bottom. What a disappointment. The best chicken but worst chicken and waffle combination I have ever had.

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The disappointment in my entree was almost salvage in their only dessert, the “monster mud pie”. Mocha ice cream on a graham cracker crust, topped with chocolate sauce, caramel, whipped cream and roasted hazelnuts. All things I like in my dessert and all things with a proven track record to work well together. You honestly can’t go wrong with this combination and they weren’t stingy on the helping or toppings.

The bar empty by 10:45pm and we were left wondering if we needed to leave as well. After clarification and the paying of our bill we were allowed to loiter as a few bodies trickled in, well before their 1am last call.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
The food was good, just my entree wasn’t. I would like to come back to try the other items that caught my eye. “Smoked chicken pot pie”, St. Louis style pork ribs; and “Mac Daddy and cheese” with your choice of smoked chicken, bacon, pulled pork or salmon. Certainly not the best BBQ place I have tried, but definitely worth repeat business. However the buttermilk chicken was the best chicken I have had. And no other chicken has yet to taste this good to me. Parking is free and its location is convenient. Tucked away the bar isn’t as busy as others so service and food should remain consistent. Don’t deny your cravings.

118 Robson Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 2M1
Back Forty on Urbanspoon

Yakinikuya Japanese BBQ

IMG_2364 BBQ your own meat without the buying, butchering, seasoning, and clean up involved after. My partner was skeptical coming in, he is a known finicky eater. But upon entry and smelling what the tables were cooking, his mind became more open. Reality is our group chose this as our destination to accommodate his self induced dietary needs.

IMG_2368The first thing I noticed was the simple yet complex design of the restaurant. I really liked all the elements to the decor. There were many traditional pieces mixed with contemporary styling. It felt a little mystical being surrounded by the engulfing darkness of the interior. However the black booths, black tables, and black counters; were soften and made brighter by the powerful bulbs hanging over head. One wall had a cherry blossom pattern etched in stone, the tree’s buds were highlighted in a pale pink against the grey concrete. Another wall was lined with curio doors. Tiny square drawers that resembled the rows and rows commonly found on a traditional Chinese medicine cabinets. In the corner there was a traditional Japanese tiled roof above the bar, it too was painted in all blacK. We took our reserved seat in the centre of the room. Our table was centred around two BBQ racks, built into the table top. Above us were mandatory sprinkler units. One per heated coil, in case anything caught on fire. Each table came with two different bottle of sauces. One closely resembled a diluted soya sauce, and the other, a sweet BBQ sauce. Together they were used to accentuate the flavour from the Barbecuing process. The table got cramped as side plates, bowls, and additional cutlery was added to the already limited space. Between menus staying and plates landing; majority of our time was devoted to making space, clearing plates and moving dishes along.

The menu was very appealing with colourful photos and detailed descriptions. They were crucial in helping us weed through our choices. There were cooked and ready to eat appetizers and entrees on top of all the raw options: salads, tempura, sushi, sashimi, noodles, and soup. The longest list was for the BBQ items separated into beef BBQ and assorted BBQ. “Assorted” included chicken, duck, pork, seafood, and vegetables.


When having Korean, Soju cocktail in yogurt. This was the large size available for sharing. If you don’t like yogurt or know exactly what it is, blueberry and lemon are the two other flavours available. “Yogurt” in this case is a popular Asian drink, it no where near resembles the taste or consistency of North American yogurt. Its only similarity, the white milky colour it takes on when not flavoured. This was a dangerous drink as the taste of the alcohol was hidden, and not its effects.


We ordered some shareable tapas to start off and round out our meal. “Ikayaki”, Japanese style grilled whole squid. Each piece had a tender chewiness to it, this made them fun to eat. It’s smooth texture was accentuated by the creamy mayo, that was provided as its dipping sauce. I found them as enjoyable hot as they were cold.


“Sweet Chilli Prawn”, fried prawn marinated in a sweet chile sauce. The menu claimed they would be served with a side of French fries. We didn’t care enough to notice it missing, let alone inquire about the lack there of. This dish is best eaten hot anywhere you have it. Doing so means that the batter is still crunchy and the prawns under it retains its juiciness. The salad it sat on top of offered a coarser texture, and a hint of bitterness to offset the sweetness found in the seafood and mayo. There was also a great balance of heat from the chilli and sugar from the mayo.


“Spicy sweet chicken”, crispy chicken marinated in a sweet and spicy sauce, tossed with mixed vegetables. Crisp was the perfect description for this dish. The bites had a great texture, though the chicken meat could have been a little juicier. But coated generously in their great sauce, it allowed you to look past its slight dryness. My partner deemed this to be his second favourite version of this dish. (His favourite spicy chicken being from
Cactus Club)


“Soy bean soup”, a hearty soup made with Korean soybean paste and assorted vegetables. The list of ingredients included tofu, spinach, squid, shrimp, mussels, enoki mushrooms, red peppers, onions, cabbage, green onion, and zucchini. I found this dish very salty. It definitely needed to be eaten along with the bowl of white rice that it was delivered with. I finished my portion, but this was not something I thoroughly enjoyed eating or would want to have again.


“Japache”. Stir fried sweet potato noodle, beef, and vegetables. This dish had a very subtle taste when compared to the soup we had before it. I liked the addition of black fungus to the mix, as it is something not commonly seen. The dish could have used more beef, and pieces that weren’t so tough to pierce through. Despite the picture, this order did not come with the sides of spicy kimchi and sweetened mashed potatoes. The sides were brought out ahead of time, and are meant to be partnered with the soup above.

The following are the different cuts of meats and plates of seafood we ordered for the BBQ portion of our night. The novelty of eating at a Japanese BBQ place is everything is brought to you raw, and you get the activity of cooking it yourself at your seat. As is the case with hot pot, half the fun is cooking without all the hassle of purchasing, preparing, and the cleaning up after. This is a concept that is lost on my French Canadian partner. He believes if you are paying for it, it should come to you cooked and ready for immediate consumption. Each dish came marinated and plated with care. I was impressed over the little touches. The sprigs of parsley to the side and the sprinkling of green onion over the top. Some of the larger slabs of meat had to be cut with scissors before they hit the BBQ plate. I appreciated how impressive the slab was as a whole, but it was an extra hassle that did not need to be done on an already crowded table. As good as everything tasted, for the price per plate, I expected more quantity; and wouldn’t mind taking away from some of the quality to get it.

(I can’t confidently remember what each picture was. So I hope I have accurately matched up protein to its description below).


“Gyu-Tan”. Premium beef tongue with salt, black pepper, and sesame oil. By looks alone, it was pretty obvious that this was beef tongue.


“Toro beef”. Thinly sliced beef belly in a homemade sauce.


“Korean style kalbi”. Korean style premium beef short ribs bone in. Marinated in their homemade sauce.


“Rosu”. Premium beef rib eye steaks in their homemade sauce. Agreeably the best cut or the night.


“Special Kalbi”. A special cut of beef short ribs, fully marbles and marinated in a homemade sauce


“Pork belly” with with salt, black pepper, and sesame oil.


“Pork jowl”. Similar to bacon, seasoned with salt, black pepper, and sesame oil. When cooked they became more fat than meat. And hard to eat with a tough rubbery texture to hack through.


“Asparagus bacon roll”. Bacon wrapped wrong fresh asparagus stalks.


“Chicken” in their homemade miso sauce. Our group had difficultly ensuring they were cooked properly, being overly concerned over salmonella.


“Herb garlic duck”. Savoury garlic duck seasoned with herbs, salt, garlic, ginger, black pepper, and sesame oil. Duck is hard to cook, with the irregular pieces we were given of was hard to get the off the grill just so. Majority of the portions turned out dry.


“Scallops”, slice pieces in a homemade sauce. I was truly disappointed to feel them frozen as I places them on grill with my tongs.


“Assorted vegetables”. Kabocha squash (Japanese pumpkin), oyster mushroom, yam, sweet onion, and asparagus. Not enough portion and hardly worth $7. We had more onion than anything else. And the mushrooms were too tough to chewy through; I ended up eating my giant share all in one continuous chew. They all could have benefit from some seasoning as well. But the presence of the veggies were great for taking a break from all the meat.


We unanimously agreed that the beef was the best, the marinades were well done, and that premium cuts of meat made a huge difference. The pork we found too fatty, the duck too dry, and the vegetables too tough. Why did we get so much onion? As a couple all this would add up, but split 6 ways it came to a decent amount. However a few of us were still hungry and chasing the thought of waffles for dessert. Though the pre-sliced and easy to eat oranges helped.

IMG_2414Would I go back? – No. This would not be my first choice for Korean do it yourself BBQ. I appreciate more bang for my buck, and $7-16 for 120g of raw beef is a little steep. I associate Japanese BBQ as being all you can eat, so like my meat piled high and without the need to calculate my order plate by plate. You know there is not enough food when there are talks about grabbing a cheese burger from McDonalds after settling up.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
The decor was inviting, the staff were responsive, and the food was good. This is one if those places you can spend hours at with a large group of rowdy friends. Order a few drinks and keep a few plates trickling in for a successful night. Don’t deny your cravings.


793 Jervis St Vancouver BC, V6E 2B1
Yakinikuya Japanese BBQ on Urbanspoon


Classic barbecue and small plate saloon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


833 Denman St, Vancouver BC
Buckstop on Urbanspoon

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