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Category: cafe Page 1 of 10

Smith’s Bagelry

I have had Turkish bagels once before: during my last visit to Toronto. I was drawn in by their larger shape and their heavily sesame seed encrusted exterior. So when I passed by “Smith’s Bagelry” on a whim, I had to go in. I knew what to expect, having seen their goods featured on a few foodie’s feeds.

You walk into the now empty shop (with the inability to stay and linger), and simply order based on sight. A collection of golden brown baked goods from a showcase kept safe behind plexiglass. Savoury and sweet buns spread across various platforms and plates, well signed with prices and a brief description.

Naturally I had to try their signature sesame bagel. A large loop with an insane amount of sesame seeds that leave you wondering how they stuck them all on there. And best of all, majority of them stayed on as I ate, whereas other bagel brands would loose their seeds to the floor. You can enjoy your twisted bagels with your choice of filling at home, or having them craft it into a sandwich for you here. A feta, tomato, and cucumber option, one with Montreal smoke meat, one with hummus, and even a vegan option with Daiya cheese. I went for the classic choice: the “Aspendos”. Smoked salmon, cream cheese, tomato, and red onion. All as fragrant and as fresh as the handmade bagel that they sat within.

Next, I went for one of their stuffed bagels. The same dough and sesame coating as the bagel above, but shaped like a stuffed football with your chosen filling. The options were olive and mozzarella, sausage and mozzarella, and Turkish sausage and mozzarella. I went for the familiarity of the former most. This was best when toasted for a crispy exterior and chewy centre. Although for the promise of being “stuffed”, it lacked filling in either of its pointed ends.

I had a better time with the blueberry stuffed soft bagel. A nice cakey dough with a dollop of blueberry at its centre. Just wish there was once agin more filling to enjoy with the dough edge to edge.

Overall a great treat. If you get the chance, it is one that I suggest you try. I definitely prefer their texture to that of any grocery store bagel brand.

Smith’s Bagelry
191 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC V5Y 1P4
(604) 423-3434

King Size Bubble Tea & Games

My friend got invited down to “King Size Bubble Tea” on Main Street for a drink and some karaoke. The shoppe reached out to her after seeing her wacky personality come alive on social media. So she called me up for a fun afternoon of bbt and singing.

They have been a go-to for bubble tea in the Main Street area for 2 years now (previously known as “7 Lemon”), but only recently have they expanded their entertainment offerings to include karaoke, so were now excited to share. Their goal is to bring something different to the world of bbt cafés. As it is getting harder to compete with the international imports planting roots in Canada, with many more shops breaking soil thereafter. So here at “King Sized” they are focusing on the environment in which their drinks are being served. What more can their guests do, after buying a cup and nursing it for an hour or two.

The decor definitely speaks to the above. Walking in, it felt like someone’s bedroom, and it certainly took me back to mine growing up. There were multiple nods to gaming and anime with “One Piece” “wanted” posters on the wall, “Gundam” builds proudly displayed on the shelves, “Yu-Gi-Oh!” playing cards and their tins, and “Bleach” posters; from what I was familiar with.

For games they had the classic board games like Battle Ship, Guess Who, and Card Against Humanity. There was an electronic darts machine in the corner, and old fashion wooden chess set up at the ready, and a gaming station with Nintendo’s Game Cube and an Xbox 360 plugged in.

As for the karaoke, our visit was at 1pm, right when they opened on the weekend. And as long as you have the courage and are willing to grab the mike and belt out your favourite tune, you can sing any time of the day. The karaoke machine syncs up to your phone when you connect to one of their wifi networks. From there, you pick your song off of the YouTube app, choosing a lyric video so that you can read along. Although there are also actual karaoke song versions available, where you can only hear the melody, minus the vocals. And viola, easy karaoke with out the licence.

When it comes to drinks, their menu hosts all the familiar bubbletea flavours: slushes, steep teas with fruit, and milk based teas. Be warned if you have dairy restrictions, they only use real milk, therefore you will have to avoid the entire milk tea collection. I was fine, so got their classic milk tea, which ended up being too sweet. They gave me a choice in sweetness and ice, but I left it as “normal”, not knowing any better. I did like how their pearls were warm and extra squishy though.

My host however has a dairy allergy, so went with the recommended strawberry lemon tea made with real strawberry fruit. It was lemon forward, with the underlying flavour of rose, and very little tea. She declared that she liked it, despite not typically liking tea drinks.

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
In short, a fun spot to hang out at, with drinks and games to play. Don’t deny your cravings.

KING SIZE BUBBLETEA
4385 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5V 3R1
(778) 379-7060
kingsizebubbletea.com

Le Doux Ciel, Chinese New Year High Tea

I have seen photos of this newer cafe floating around, but what got me through the door finally was their limited edition, Chinese New Year themed high tea set. It is only available for a month starting January 15th and running to February 15th, 2020

In order to indulge you must make a reservation and that comes with a commitment. The cost is $59 per person. You leave your credit card information and are billed “50% or more” if you cancel with less than 24 hours notice. Therefore, we made sure we got there early to avoid complications. Parking is easy enough, if you seek a spot in the underground lot of the “Praq Casino” adjacent. This is within walking distance of “Le Doux Ciel”.

The cafe is a wonderfully curated space. A touch of elegance with soft pastels, velvet upholstery, marble counters, honeycomb tiles, and flourishes of gold. On the ceiling dangled oversized balloons in whites, teal, and gold. They bounced around adding whimsy, and adding to the celebratory mood. It all definitely got us more excited for what’s more to come.

Your journey begins with a choice of tea, two pages to skim through, all served in a bird themed set. Individual tea pots that resembled bird houses, tea cups that had a tiny bird perched on its handle, and a saucer shaped like a gilded cage.

We would take our server’s suggestion and order their two most popular teas. The “milky blue”, isn’t actually blue in colour (we checked before ordering it). It had a naturally milky essence to it, without the need to add any actual milk product. And enough sweetness from candied chestnuts to enjoy without any honey or sugar. Its creaminess matched the indulgence of the set well.

The second most popular brew was the “blanc and rose” white tea. You got plenty of gentle rose notes in this cup. More light and floral than the blue tea above.

The actual full food set comes out fast. Many of the elements are pre-made and simply assembled on these speciality, miniature shelves. They typically house small figurines and leave quite the oriental impression. But there were so many pieces to this set that they had to spread it across two fixtures. The second one was a platform, and like the shelf, it was topped with waxy paper to protect the wood from oils and sugars from the snack-sized feast before us. We worked our way through everything, looking to the menu as a guide of the order in which to do so. It was in doing this that we realized that we were missing one of the listed items: the traditional new year cake. But alas the chef had already retired for the day so we were unable to try it. However, the clerk offered us our choice of any of the treats in the showcase, but more on that below.

Once again, in the order that we nibbled and savoured: We started with the “Vegetable spread mix”. It looked half thought out. A slice of cucumber topped with sautéed vegetables. A mix of red peppers, eggplant, and mushroom. It ate like a vegan chip and salsa, but needed more. It was missing seasoning and a pinch of salt. And perhaps a final topping to complete the concept. My suggestion would be a sprinkling of fried onion. It tasted healthy and was light, giving you a similar feeling that you would get from a cucumber finger sandwich, in other high tea sets.

I really liked the “Smoked bacon on steam buns”. A nice thick cut of bacon with a maple syrup finish, its sweetness went well with the sweet onion paste smeared within the doughy bun. All that was missing was more vegetables, something pickled like you’d get in banh mi, for a nice tang.

By comparison, the “Sesame brioche buns with roasted pork belly” was similar in sweetness and tangy sauce. But here, the thick and crunchy skin was hard to bite through, and just as dry as the bun. Overall great flavours, I just wanted the dish to be better curated, and once again with more veggies to balance out the heavy juices.

The “Exotic mushroom veggie spring roll” came served with a sweet chilli sauce on the side for dipping. It was crunchy with plenty of mushroom filling. I don’t know about the “exotic” part though. It was pretty standard all in all.

Next, we transitioned from savoury to sweet with the “Bird’s nest soup with red dates”. It had a jelly-like texture that drank like slurping down minced jello. It was refreshing and only mildly sweet, with the flavour of the dates coming through.

The “Fermented rice cake” was interesting. Three desserts in one, including the decorative white chocolate piece crowning it. There were a few more scattered across the set, similarly decorated it Chinese characters and/or symbols to really round out the theme. At the centre was a tiny glutenous rice ball with sesame seed paste at its centre. I have never had one so mild, it contrasted well the tangy fermented jelly surrounding it. But overall this had a medicinal quality to it.

The “puff pastry” is one that I am familiar with. Shaped like a lotus flower, with a flaky shell, surrounding dense date paste. Given how dry and ashy it is, it is best paired with tea or coffee and nibbled on.

I was most excited by the sugar coated hawthorn fruits. Visually, it was juicy looking strawberries coated in syrup and wrapped in edible, translucent paper (like what you get with white rabbit candy.) I would later learn that this called “bing tanghulu”, a popular Beijing snack. It tasted like “haw flakes” and was fun to eat off the stick. This was all kinds of sweet, across different textures.

Once again, the menu also listed a “special Chinese traditional cake”, but it was missing on our tower, and by the time we realized this, the chef was already gone for the day. Therefore to round out our meal, our server (the lone employee left to hold down the cafe), offered us the following.

A couple of their Chinese New Year themed macarons like red bean and osmanthus. The former actually tasted like red bean, whereas the latter was just sweet. I was waiting, but I never got the floral notes I expected from the blossom. It simply tasted artificial, and a little like mango?

And in keeping of our asian theme, we choose the “Black sesame cake”. One of their single serve, individual sized desserts, pre-made and waiting behind glass. It was mostly mousse with a thin layer of sponge. I found the texture sandy, whereas if I was going to have this much mousse I wanted it rich and creamy. At the centre was a mildly tart blueberry gel core. It helped to brighten up the dessert, but as a whole, this one isn’t for me.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Honest this it is one of the better high tea sets I have had. Everything is made in house, and I definitely tasted the value across each course. Complex and creative, this is one to try! Don’t deny your cravings.

LE DOUX CIEL
65 Smithe St, Vancouver, BC V6B 0R3
(236) 520-2888
ledouxciel.ca

Gram Cafe & Pancakes

The latest dessert trend is the soufflé pancake. An airy and light round stacked one on top of another, and dressed in a bevy of toppings. A few dessert shoppes specializing in this treats have opened up last year, with other cafes adding it to their menu. But “Gram” originating out of Japan is the first to coin this method of pancake preparation. And their highly anticipated opening is now set in mid February 2020.

The cafe is located in Aberdeen Mall, right as you enter from their 1st floor parking garage. The space was once a clothing store, but anticipating the eventual opening of “Gram’s” first Canadian location, the mall quickly renovated to install the proper ventilation system, so that they will be able to prepare and serve food. The cafe is spacious, with plenty of isle room in between rows of white lacquer tables paired with thin wire chairs and grey cushions. The restaurant is kept pretty simple, a “Gram” branded bar at the back and a mural advertising their premium pancake paired with a cup of coffee and spilt beans.

The chain actually started out offering regular flat, flap jacks. Buttermilk rounds that they still currently offer, both in savoury and/or sweet. Bacon and scrambled eggs or French toast style with chocolate and banana.

We tried their tiramisu sweet pancake with mascarpone tiramisu cream, cocoa powder, and milk chocolate. I am not normally a fan of the soft and heavy cream focused cake, but did like it recreated with pancakes here. You definitely get the flavour of the iconic dessert, but with a nice spongy base and powdery cocoa finish. A lot for one, so better shared.

But out of the two we tried, the “Premium pancakes” are definitely the ones to order; the name says it all. Each order takes 30 minutes to make. They are made to order, with only 90 plates available daily. They foresee themselves running out daily, much like it is in Japan. For now it is only available as “regular:” Three fluffy soufflé pancakes stacked one on top of another, finished off with house made butter, whip cream and a light syrup. With talks of offering seasonally driven specials in the future.

By the time we got to our pancakes they were no longer fresh. However, unlike other soufflé pancakes, these did not wilt or slough. They held their shape and their freshness, and were just as tasty at room temperature, with a mild sweetness and eggy finish. The butter offered up some salt, and the syrup additional sweetness, more like sugar cane and less like maple syrup. But the texture is what makes it special, the texture of angel food cake and pancake combined, crafted from a special pancake mix flown in from Japan, with everything else sourced locally, when possible.

In the future they are working towards customization of all their pancakes and the ability to top, smear, and drizzle each as you like. Along with a monthly premium pancake special, that will be reflective of the season and any festive occasions.

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.
From what I saw, they are promising an experience much like you would get in Japan; with the company sending trainers from Japan to Canada, and hiring as many Japanese speaking individuals as possible. I cannot wait to see how the Lower Mainland welcomes their highly anticipated opening, and how they evolve to cater to and be shaped by Canadian culture. Keep your eyes and ears open for the actual opening day, and be warned there will be lines and they will sell out early. Don’t deny your cravings.

GRAM
1284 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6E 3Z6
gramcanada.com

Money Tea

We were in Richmond today, and having made the drive down, we thought to explore the scene a little. And with a speedy search on Instagram we found just the place, for a quick drink and some fun photos.

This is “Money Tea”, the aptly named tea bar located in the Continental Shopping Centre (not to be confused the the money loan centres). With its name and lucky cat motif it was themed in good fortune. The exterior inviting with happy cat banners and a collection of happy cat statues on display. Each, waving you in, from their spot on the yellow shelves. Each round and plump, with squinted eyes, paw up, and surrounded in opulence.

Inside, the theme explodes with more smiling cats splashed across table cloths, multiple of them painted on wall murals, and as cartoons papered on the wall. You saw the collection of lucky cats dressed as samurais, a fisherman with a big catch, a geisha; and different breeds of cat including black, calico, and Siamese.

But the wall that caught my attention was the one covered in lucky red pockets. And to be honest, I was more excited by this and the scenes above, than the drinks we would order at the bar.

Their drink offering includes coffee based drinks, tea steeped with fruit, flavoured green tea with a milk foam, flavoured teas, milk based beverages, fizzy fruit water, milk tea, layered juices, and yogurt based drinks. It is hard to choose just reading off the written menu, so our group found ourselves ordering from off of the photos posted by the bar/counter.

The “Yangleduo series” is one of their most popular drinks for its presentation. It utilizes the famous fermented probiotic milk beverage as a base; flavouring it with either lemon, passion fruit, grapefruit, or peach. The finished blended product is served up the in large plastic bottles, shaped like the classic Yakult container. It serves as a fun takeout bottle, and keep sake. We had the passion fruit flavour and it included the fruit’s black seeds bobbing at the top. It was a mild flavour with the tang of yogurt.

I also ordered the “blue velvet coconut milk with peach plum” for its aesthetics. The sky blue hue in contrast to the opaque white milk was appealing. From the counter we watched the “gum” get poured into the tall plastic cup, then the milk; before a blue power gets diluted in water, then sifted over the drink. The blue bleeds in, colouring it, but not actually flavouring it. As a whole, it tasted like a diluted coconut milk, with the gum offering a nice jelly-like chew. Not my favourite for taste.

I much preferred the “peach gum brown sugar milk”. It had the sweetness I wanted in such a drink, with the classic flavour of milk tea and the texture of the chewy peach gum to round it out.

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.
A fun spot for a quick drink. The drinks aren’t much different from other like cafes, but the cute theme definitely makes it worth stopping by. Don’t deny your cravings.

MONEY TREE
3779 Sexsmith Rd #1116, Richmond, BC V6X 1J8
(604) 370-7083

Le Marché St. George

My guest invited me to one of her favourite cafes. Off the beaten path, she deemed this a well kept secret, and a hidden gem. But with this post, I hope to bring it to the attention of many more. Not only do they boast a one of a kind setting, but they serve delicious crepes and unique hot beverages as well.

Located on a street corner in a residential area, parking is abundant and easy. But this two floor building has seen brighter days. With chipped paint, worn shingles, and rusted metal to add to its antique aesthetic, also farm-like rustic feel. Out back there was a rabbit hutch and live chicken roaming, behind wooden fencing. By the entrance, a trolly of pumpkins, garlic, and gourds for sale.

Inside, were many more curiosities to poke and peruse through. Knick knacks like “brains” in jars, dried florals, worn wooden toys, and small vintage kitchen appliances. There was also a collection of edible dried goods, canned preserves, and parchment wrapped sweets to shop. Maple syrup, artisan tea, all natural beauty products, and hand poured soap.

You order from the counter at the back, making your choice from the hand written food menu on parchment and the drink menu on chalkboard. You pay immediately and collect your beverage from the counter when it’s completed. For food, you get a table number and your plate is brought out to you when ready.

We grabbed a table outside and enjoyed the day and our meal under the cover of the awning and the shade of the sidewalk trees. The following is what we shared between three, appreciating the porcelain plates and the silver dish ware that cane with it.

The “Noisette” is a hazelnut flavoured espresso. It came with a foam top and a milk poured heart. And the “Espresso” was a stronger sipper that I found bitter and harsh.

I much preferred my “Creme brûlée fog”, which is like a London Fog with milk and black tea, but with the addition of caramel syrup for a sweeter drink. I didn’t get the cream or the burnt sugar indicative of creme brûlée, but I liked it just the same.

For food, our options were limited, as we visited after noon and they were all sold out of their croque-monsieur and chicken pot pie. So I went sweet with one of their “Roasted pear and brie crepe. I was reassured of my choice when the clerk behind the register said it was her favourite. Truth be told, I prefer my crepes plain, so found this one a little too sweet with the honey spread over the folded thin dough. On top was a slice of caramelized pear, covered in melted brie. A great combination, and all that I was missing was something crunchy, like crushed nuts coated in honey.

I should have gotten the turkey, fig jam, Brie, and basil savoury crepe instead. It had similar flavour opposites as the crepe above, but with the addition of salt from the turkey. I also preferred the flavour of the grainy fig spread with seeds, over the soften pear, as a pairing with the sharp brie. It was served with a lightly oil side salad, for a more fulsome meal.

The Tuscan lentil stew was the special of the day, it too came with a salad and some toast for dipping. This was a hearty serving of gritty lentils, bold in warming spices.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
A really unique space to take in and enjoy alone, or to share a meal with a friend. Great aesthetics paired with a satisfying food. Don’t deny your cravings.

LE MARCHE
4393 St George St, Vancouver, BC V5V 4A3
(604) 565-5107
marchestgeorge.com

Honolulu Coffee, Happy Hour

Other restaurants have Happy Hour, “Honolulu Coffee” has “Pa’u Hana”. Starting on Friday October 4th, the “Honolulu Coffee” on Nelson will host live music with drink and food specials, every Friday from 3-7pm. It may be fall and it maybe cold, but here they are on island time; and the tropical vibes certainly does help to warm you up.

To celebrate the occasion they hosted a luau and I was the first one to arrive for all the festivities. To set the mood, there was live music. Pop songs done on the ukulele.

And “Leis de buds” was on location with handcrafted real rose and real orchid leis. Guests were invited to dawn one around their necks, learning that the proper way to do so is with equal parts of the lei and its florals dangling in front and at the back. This is so that others will be able to enjoy its aesthetics from either side.

And when the pre-made ones were all handed out, the floral specialist began making more on the spot, as a demonstration. Utilizing a specially imported lei needle to thread blossoms together by way of string. The result, wearable art, and a keepsake to take home and dry.

The event spilled out the entrance of the cafe. And right at the entry way was a baby pig roasting on a spit. It definitely attracted the desired attention. Slow cooking since first thing in the morning, it was now ready for carving up and serving.

Its pulled pork meat would be the feature of their kalua pork burgers, along side pineapple and a tomato salsa. The pork was terrific, you can taste the difference cooking it over hot coals made. As for the burger as a whole I would have liked the pineapple grilled, the salsa less watery, and a sweeter mayonnaise to pull it all together.

Inside, a table was set up with help yourself small bites. A collection of their bar menu snacks and cafe favourites for everyone to sample.

In the Teri burger, I got the tangy mayo that I was looking for above. It paired well with the crispy shredded slaw and all the onion and cilantro, piled over a thin beef burger patty.

For something to crunch on and pair with their Hawaiian brewed beers by the can, I recommend their smoked “mixed bar nuts” with a sticky glaze.

I fully enjoyed the “Edamame coconut hummus”. A whipped spread served with pita. It gives you the sensation and texture of hummus, but with a whole new flavour profile to explore. Garlicky and coconut-y, I have had nothing else like it.

The “Lilikoi pineapple meatball” was a nice small plate to share. Served with tooth picks, they are easy to pop into your mouth. A bite-sized round of meat with plenty of cilantro, and hints of passion fruit.

The bacon cheddar scones are from their cafe side, a perk of having a bar within a cafe, you get to pick and choose from either menu that shares the same seating area.

The matcha brownie cubes were decadent, moist bites of chocolate.

But my favourite of all their cafe snacks is their guava bread. I ate cube after cube, recommending others to do the same. A moist cake with the flavour of the pink tropical fruit.

At the build your own açai bowl bar, guests helped themselves to scoops of frozen açai; and topped with as much or as little fresh fruit and dried ingredients as you wanted. Slices of strawberry and banana, whole blueberries, coconut flakes, and house made granola. Tart and refreshing, this made for a healthy dessert alternative.

At their bar they were serving cans of “Maui Brewing Co.” beers in Pineapple mana wheat or Coconut hiwa porter.

And for something sweeter and frostier, you can enjoy their “Hauoli Colada”, similar to a pina colada with tropical fruit juices blended with ice and rum. It was an easy drinking cocktail, made more enjoyable when served in one of their brightly coloured, novelty tiki mugs or pineapple-shaped cup.

We finished our meal off with a cup of their “Hawaiian latte”, exclusive to them and one of a kind with their specialty beans. It uses coconut milk and macadamia nut syrup to further their theme. And although you smelled more of it, than you do taste it, this was still a great indulgence.

They also have two new hot beverages for their fall offerings. The first is a “horchata latte” with cold brew coffee, soy milk, and cinnamon. The second, a “baked maple pumpkin latte” with real pumpkin, maple syrup, cinnamon, espresso, and milk; topped with grated nutmeg. They didn’t quite taste like what I expected. Not concentrated in horchata or pumpkin flavour, but a different interpretation altogether. I would have liked the horchata sweeter, and the pumpkin latte spicier. The latter was interesting with the addition of maple syrup. Maple, being a strong flavour that battled with the pumpkin as lead in the drink.

For more coffee, guests were invited to sample “Honolulu Coffee’s” newest roast, the “Peaberry”. This is one of the world’s rarest coffees, a lighter bodied brew with subtle sweetness and hints of mixed berry. One that you can take home as beans in a bag. It was recommend that we drink it as is, without milk or sugar. It was a delightful brew, and I can see why it has earned its accolades.

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.
In short, “Honolulu Coffee” will continue to be a cafe I recommend. Not just a regular coffee house, but one that features tropical flavours and transports you to a place much warmer and much further away. And now with happy hour and their own beer garden, there is even more reason to visit them soon. Don’t deny your cravings.

HONOLULU COFFEE
888 Nelson St g1, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H1
(778) 379-6607
honolulucoffee.com

 

Honolulu Coffee, beer garden

I don’t naturally gravitate towards coffee so it is nice to have a different reason to visit “Honolulu Coffee”. They have just opened a beer garden within their cafe, and I was here to get the full Hawaiian experience from them. Although fun fact, Vancouver is the only “Honolulu Coffee” franchise to host their own beer garden. There isn’t even one in Hawaii.

I cannot believe it took me this long to step into their space. It is so much fun. Their Hawaiian theme is evident in every part of their business. You feel transported as you step through the threshold with the change in light and the faint scent of coconut and macadamia nuts in the background. Bleach wood, rattan furniture, patterned cushions, and walls papered with palm trees to further the setting.

To take a little piece of this and them home, they even have a gift shop of sorts. Shelves with their branded coffee mug and tumblers, bold coloured tees and canvas tote bags, bags of their own coffee beans, and tins of their tea.

Like with any cafe they offer speciality coffees and hosts a showcase of baked goods and pastries. From dessert cakes to brownies. We would get a taste of both before the night’s end.

Their cafe feels separate from their beer garden, despite the latter only covering a little corner of their elongated space. But in my opinion, this is the best corner. All centred around a colourful mural of sand and water framed by palm trees, advertising their “Brewed with Aloha” beers. With a custom painted surf board to anchor it all. With this, all the right props, and all their tropically inspired beers, you are somewhere warm and tropical.

Their limited menu is listed on the back of their bar. Local beers on tap and Hawaiian beers by the can, and the perfect inspired snacks to enjoy them with.

We started with two cans of the Island brewed “Maui Brewing Co.” beers. Their cans feature Maori traditional prints on the outside and tropical fruit flavours on the inside. Both gave you the promised fruit essence with a nice easy drinking beer. Pineapple mana wheat and Coconut hiwa porter.

With it we enjoyed a serving of their mixed bar nuts, its smokey flavour complimentary to the beers.

My guest and I were fully impressed by the “Edamame coconut hummus”, and the creativity in the idea. It gave you the sensation and texture of hummus, but with a whole new flavour. It was churned smooth, and ideal with the pillowy soft pita bread it was served with. Garlicky and coconuty both at the same time, here is nothing else like it. Worth trying.

The “Lilikoi pineapple meatball” was a nice one to easily pop into your mouth, as a bar snack. A solid ball of meat with plenty of cilantro, coupled with hints of passion fruit; but tasted more like pineapple.

It was later explained that it is typical for Hawaiian cuisine to feature plenty of onion and cilantro. Like there was in our “Teri burger sliders”, along with a creamy mayo and crispy shredded slaw. All on a thin burger patty and plain bun. You eat it more for its condiments than the sweet buttery bun, gaining very little taste from the patty. It is also more sweet than salty, and I expected some teriyaki flavour in this (because of its name), and didn’t get it.

We finished our meal off with a cup of their “Hawaiian latte”, exclusive to them and one of a kind with their specialty beans. It uses coconut milk and macadamia nut syrup. Although you smell more of it, than you do taste it, this was still a great indulgence.

And I couldn’t pass up a slice of their guava bread. It is like banana bread, but sweeter and pink from the colour of the fruit. It was cut thick and offered you a beautiful chew. I would go out of my way for more. Another must try.

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.
Seriously, glad I could check this one out. And now I am happy to be able to recommend it. Next time that I want a drink or a snack I will actively look for a “Honolulu cafe”. Great polite service, stand out food, and a one of a kind setting to enjoy both in. Don’t deny your cravings.

HONOLULU COFFEE
888 Nelson St g1, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H1
(778) 379-6607
honolulucoffee.com

Buttermere Patisserie Cafe

Popular online bakery, “Butter Mere” now has its own store front. After three years of providing Vancouverites with tasty and trendy cakes for all their special occasions, they have finally found the ideal location. A relaxed cafe setting to serve their confectioneries, conveniently close to their actual bakery.

Notable for their one line lion logo, a male lion standing on its hind legs holding a cake. They have taken over the old home of a now shuttered smoothie shop. And luckily for them, their predecessor’s modern decor with bleach wood accents, geometric printed counter, and fresh greenery transitions well to a bakery’s cafe space. There are several small tables seated in front of a wooden bench that ran down the length of the case, but grabbed one of the two nooks at either sides of the front door, for more private seating.

Their existing fan base has seen that their first week opened gets plenty of foot traffic. With many more walking in to experience their highly photogenic offerings in person. On top of full sized cakes for serving at parties, they have a showcase of individual sized desserts and cream rolls for point and ordering. The latter was sponge and cream in flavours like matcha red bean, hojicha, and chocolate strawberry, etc.

I started with their fun “ruby is the new black” hot chocolate. This is the hot version, but it is also available, just as pink, cold over ice. For those who have tried it, it tastes like chocolate milk made with the limited edition pink ruby Kit Kat chocolate bar, melted down. As deliciously creamy as you think it is. Though sadly only available in whole milk, with no dairy free or vegan alternatives; lest it change and clashes with the taste of the unique chocolate.

We did ask, and more vegan friendly offerings are in the works, with milk alternatives. Upon this visit they have only been open for under a week, and are still working things out logistically.

I paired the pink “yogurt raspberry cloud” with my matching pink drink. This was a uniquely textured cake, made using a mould created by an architect. It ate as fluffy as it looked, light and airy. Yogurt mousse surrounding a raspberry and cherry compote, over a crispy raspberry wafer. A dessert with plenty of textures and flavours to keep things interesting bite after bite.

But the highlight, and the one to order, if you can only get one, is their “Salted egg yolk puff”, it comes in a set of four, as you see here. A crispy, almost cakey shell hiding a sweet custard-like cream flavoured like the distinct salted egg yolk. A wonderful rendition of the trendy food item.

And for those looking for something more rich, they have their tiramisu in a glass. It was a great presentation, but hard to eat. You had to dig around and up to get the right mix of fluffy sponge, whipped cream, quality cocoa powder, and hint of Kahula.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
A great place for a celebratory cake, and a now a great cafe to have something sweet at. And seeing as they are the only dessert spot and/or destination for tea in the area, expect them to be busy! Don’t deny your cravings.

BUTTERMERE
636 Main St, Vancouver, BC V6A 2W1
778-956-7789
buttermere.ca

Buns + Boba

I have often passed by this cafe for my daily commute, and today I finally had the time and stomach space to check it out.

With the cafe’s spacious seating area and natural lighting, they make for a great place to meet up with a friend or to sneak a quiet moment for yourself. You order at the counter, situated at in the centre of the room, across from it, a collection of kitchen goods for purchase. Swedish dish cloths, salt bowls, and patterned spatulas.

Up front are shared tables and individual surfaces, at the very back is a living room setting with couches and a book shelf. Plenty of comfy corners meant to entice guests to linger.

Given the name of the place I made sure to try one of their buns with boba. Boba in their house “B&B milk tea”. The bubble tea was pretty standard, made with powder, it had plenty of caffeine for a decent pick me up. With it, I was able to grab the last of their pearls for the day. Half an order, which I offset with half an order of coconut jelly in this “large” cup.

Now the bun were something special. The taste of the dough and the flavours offered weren’t new, but how the dough was shaped was. The braiding allowed you to peal off bites in strips, with crispy pieces and spongy sections interwoven like art. Visible behind glass, you can order each bun based on it colour. Red for the tomato sauce and herb bun, yellow for the cheese and scallions bun, white on the coconut and honey drizzled bun, dark brown for cardamom, and light brown for cinnamon and sugar.

I ordered the last matcha based on its popularity, and was not disappointed. And because of it, I would like to try a few of their other buns, or maybe one of their made to order sandwiches and/or savoury toasts.

 

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.
Not a destination, but a great place to stop for a snack if you are walking past. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BUNS + BOBA
327 East Broadway, Vancouver BC, V5T 1W5
604-879-2770
bunsandboba.com

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