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

Category: fastfood Page 1 of 2

New summer menu items from Tim Horton’s

“Timmy’s” has launched a few new menu items this summer, and in this post, I taste my way through the three I found most interesting.

For the raw reaction, check out my latest taste test video, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

 

The following was ordered from their food court presence at Metropolis at Metrotown, in Burnaby. A full meal with drink and dessert that came to $9.31 after taxes.

The “Jolly Rancher slush” is a pink drink with flecks of hard candy mixed in, like sprinkles in a cake. It is super sweet and tastes just like the candy. Not one flavour, but all the Jolly Rancher flavours muddled into one.

Their new poutine was a nice interpretation. I am already a fan of their herbed potato wedges with crispy edges and chewy centres. To it they add Quebec squeaky cheese and a rich beefy gravy. It was a nice snack and about time Canada’s favourite coffee spot had their own poutine.

The doughnut sticks were disappointing. Hard sticks of dough deep fried and tossed in cinnamons sugar. They weren’t fried to order, but allowed to sit and harden. It would have been better served warmed up and maybe with a dipping sauce, considering it is already the shape of a fry and therefore easy to dip.

Keeping in mind this is fast food for quick snacks and sugar cravings, these offerings are a fun edition to their menu. Not ones I would necessary revisit, but the right child would be thrilled to have this for lunch.

Big G Fried Chicken Steaks

This popular Richmond night market treat now has its own store, so that you can have giant pieces of chicken all throughout the year. Located in Union Square in Richmond, they serve as a quick lunch or snack spot, frying up chicken and other sides.

Set up like any fast food restaurant. You order at the back, reading off the menu above the counter. You pay first and when ready your number is called and you take your tray to any available table. It is worth noting that they except debit, whereas many of their neighbours run a cash only business.

On the right side of the restaurant are photos of their combos and menu items on display, serving as inspiration on what to order. On the left, their trademark photo of a woman holding up a piece of chicken, showing you how it’s larger than her head. A popular pose that many have imitated and used on their own social media channels, myself included.

Although there is plenty to order, chances are you will be having the “jumbo chicken steak”. Available in original, seasoned with salt and pepper; or in a bevy of flavours like bbq, Cajun powder, jalapeño powder, seaweed powder, hot sauce, and even coated in mozzarella cheese.

The original is so flavourful that you don’t really need additional sauces or seasonings. It is my pick. A piece of chicken breast pounded down and stretched out to achieve this elongated length. Though half of it is bone. It tastes like the Taiwanese style popcorn chicken you get at bubble tea places. Just as crispy and salty, with more coated skin than meat. The flavours penetrate the batter and skin through to the actual chicken.

If you are looking for more chicken in a different way they have options in various sizes and shapes. Chicken strips, nuggets, and popcorn. And plenty of deep fried sides to go with it like potato, yam, tofu, oyster mushroom, shimeji mushroom, squid balls, and fish cake. For something more fresh grab a coleslaw or radish salad. And for a more fulsome meal their chicken is available as a combo with rice, noodle, or noodle soup. Enjoy it with a fountain pop or bubble tea.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Good, but there is something more enjoyable about having one at the night market versus sit downing in a fast food setting. A convenient snack, but not a destination. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BIG G’s FRIED CHICKEN STEAK
8338 Capstan Way #1231, Richmond BC, V6X 4B5
604-278-9661

Win Win Chick-N, #ChickenWingsChallengeYVR

I was bestowed the honour of judging Vancouver Foodster’s latest challenge: Chicken wings. A food that I fancy myself an expert in, given the amount I have eaten in one sitting, and as a whole.

I am always appreciative of his challenges and my participation in them. They get me out and about, traveling around the Lower Mainland, trying restaurants I would never otherwise get a chance to. And today’s competitor: “Win Win Chick-n” is a perfect example of that. I have been to Steveston a handful of times this year, and with each visit, never thought to order fried chicken by the water. And little did I know, I was missing out.

The shop is small, a couple of places to sit in doors and a few more right outside, under the sun. Though if they are all taken, their chicken does travel well, and a picnic in Steveston always sounds like a grand idea.

I came down to tried their chicken wings, but made sure to try a few of their regular menu items as well. We started off with their regular fried chicken. Drums and thighs lightly breaded and deep fried. They are pre-made and kept warm under a heat lamp, behind glass. And surprisingly, this did not affect its quality or taste. They were just as crispy and just as warm, served over a sheet a wax gingham, nestled all cozy in one of their compostable cardboard boxes. The wax paper is necessary as they are oily and their grease does eventually seep through the box. As for the flavour they had a warming amount of spice. Definitely more zesty with character than that of your regular fast food chicken chains.

I found their wings (the #chickenchallengeyvr entry), similarly breaded and spiced like their original above, but packed with even more flavour. Although this might just be so because of their size; there was a greater seasoned skin to dark chicken meat ratio per bite. Either way I wasn’t complaining. “Win Win Wings”, pressure fried wingettes and drumettes seasoned in salt, pepper, garlic, and their in house breading mix; which is dairy, egg and nut free. Each order includes 10 pieces of drumlettes and winglettes. I preferred them on their own, but with the full pieces of chicken, I rather have each dipped into their gravy.

Their gravy was also prepared ahead of time and allowed to stew in itself. Kept warm in a soup vat and scooped to order into a waxy paper cup. The gravy had a great consistency, runny enough to scoop and drink, and thick enough to glop and dip. Slightly peppery, it adds a meatiness to the chicken, without masking its poultry essence.

But what was the most memorable side for me was their “Filipino style macaroni salad”. This was a sweet and tangy macaroni with a sauce that reminded me of a less intense, more tomato-based ketchup. This was mixed with ground lean beef and slices of cocktail sausages. The owner explained that his mother had prepared him this dish on several occasions, and he wanted to share its tasty and comforting nature with his customers. I concurred, hailing for South East Asia, this too reminded me of the sweet style pasta my mother prepared for our family, and therefore my childhood. Needless to say, I scraped the cup clean, and would recommend this a side and base to your box of chicken. Otherwise the classic option of fries or mashed potatoes are also available.

And lastly, for dessert we had to try one of their purple yam (ube) cakes. These are prepared freshly daily by the owner’s sister-in-law, he declared her a seasoned pastry chef, and I would agree. This was the best ube cake I have had to date. It tasted like ube through and through. It wasn’t overly sweet with whipped cream or dense with a rich sponge cake. It was light and fluffy and a great way to balance out your heavy and greasy meal before. Well crafted and well thought out.

It is also worth mentioning that the owner is so friendly and welcoming. You could feel that he was passionate about preparing great chicken, and that the community celebrated him for this. Most telling was one of his loyal customers coming in, gifting him with a lamp shaped like a chicken. The customer had saw this at a garage sale and bought it for his favourite chicken shop as decoration. With us, he took the time to explain what it was we were having and asked for feedback on how to improve. We also spoke about their online social media success, and how he was so humbled by it all. They will be hitting 1 year old this July and will continue to turn heads and increase appetites.

 

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.
Don’t deny your cravings.

 

WIN WIN CHICK-N
12160 First Ave, Richmond BC, V7E 3M2
778-297-5818
winwinchick-n.com

 

For the other Vancouver Foodster Chicken Wing Challenge contest and to vote for your favourite for the people’s choice winner, visit the link below.

http://vancouverfoodster.com/chicken-wings-challenge/

Popeyes Chicken

My partner is a fan of fried chicken, he eats chicken almost every day, and has it deep fried 2-3 times a week. Therefore when “Popeyes”, the Louisiana style chicken and fast food restaurant opened up, he wanted to see if he found a new place to enjoy his favourite protein, his favourite way. And to see how well this new edition to Port Coquitlam stacked stacked up against his favourites.

With it just recently opening, and online food publications doing a great job to promote this import from across the border, the restaurant was busy. It was 8:30pm on a Tuesday and the line wrapped around itself. Despite how many employees were behind the counter and how fast they worked, people continue to join the back of the line, thus it didn’t look like it was actually moving. And seeing as there wasn’t a drive through window, despite patrons taking their chicken home in boxes and styrofoam wrapped in paper and bagged in plastic, it was still tightly packed within.

But once you ordered and pay, your entire meal comes out pretty quick. But then there is the challenge of wanting to eat in and there not being enough tables for the high surge of people wanting to dine in too. This made our turn to sit and dine less enjoyable with groups hovering around, in order to be the first to sit after we get up.

We decided to try a variety of things to get a full assessment of this popular chain, for our very first taste. Three combos with our choice of three sides to go with it. The side options we didn’t choose were mashed potatoes, coleslaw, herbed beans and rice, corn on the cob, and cajun poutine.

I considered the cajun poutine, which would have cost me more as an “upgraded” side, only to learn that it is just cajun seasonings over your standard gravy and cheese over fries. Although it would have been nice to try their gravy as it is only available as part of the above or over mashed potatoes. They didn’t offer cups of it on the side for dipping, or maybe I just missed out the opportunity to get it as such.

Just as well, the fries were nice enough that you wanted to taste them. They didn’t stay crispy for long, nor were they the kind that you go back for more of. They simply had their own flavour with their special mix of cajun spices, and offered up nice breaks from everything else. Especially when enjoyed with some tangy ketchup, to help change the taste of your palate.

The fries were the side to their “Deluxe chicken sandwich”. Creole, cajun, or deluxe were your burger options. It was so loud that we couldn’t hear our clerk behind the counter when she explained to us the differences. The sandwich was centred around their breaded white meat chicken breast, a garlicky aioli, lettuce, and tomato, all on a chewy Portuguese bun. The chicken was was crunchy, you could taste the quality of the meat being used, with some lingering spice to it.

We had more of their chicken as is in their “3 piece combo”. All dark meat. The thigh, drum, and wing, each still steaming hot through and through. But whereas the thigh was good and the drum juicy, the wing sad and small. The seasoning doesn’t taste like any other, and again they used great quality chicken here too. Juicy meat hiding under a robe of crunchy goodness. I considered it good fried chicken, but not something I could only get from them. There are other fried chicken options out there, similar in quality, that I couldn’t get else where, more conveniently. The seasoning in the batter didn’t stand out enough to crave again, and just as well, as I wouldn’t travel the distance for it any how.

For its side we had some onion rings. They were crispy with a good amount of batter. Better than many other fast food restaurant’s attempts.

Sadly, I didn’t know that each combo comes with a biscuit, so I ordered one additional. They were buttery, you bit in and it flaked under the pressure. Cheesy and cakey, best enjoyed warm.

For our last combo we had their popcorn shrimp, because no other fast food chain offers such a thing on their menu. Sadly what I imagined, wasn’t the reality. The shrimp were tiny. So little meat that you get a 1:1 ratio of breading and shrimp, whereas you wanted more juiciness from a thick curl of shrimp. It was like eating bits of deep fried batter. No real taste on its own, luckily you get your choice of dips to accompany it. Tartar, buttermilk ranch, blackened ranch, Mardi Gras mustard, Sweet heat, barbecue, bayou BBQ, or cocktail sauce. I got the mustard and was surprised by how strong it was, enough had me feeling it’s zestiness in my nasal passages.

Here, we paired it with the most bland Mac and cheese I have ever had, based on its unappealing taste, I think they use American cheese that has no sharpness to it. The noodles were also cover-cooked, to the point that the elbow macaroni was swollen and too soft. The creaminess of it was nice, and at least it was helpful as a neutral base. A scoop with the spork to have in between bites of deep fry and salt.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Glad to have tried the buzz, and glad we got enough of the menu to give it a fair assessment. So in conclusion I can confidently say “Popeyes” did not make it on to my list of favourite fast food joints, nor it is one I would go out of my way to visit again, even if they opened a location closer to me. Don’t deny your cravings.

POPEYES
110–2190 Hawkins Street, Port Coquitlam BC, V3B 0G6
778-941-3681
popeyeschicken.ca

A&W New Beyond Meat (vegan) Burger review

On Monday, July 9th, 2018 A&W launched the newest burger to make it on to their permanent menu: a meat-less alternative that features a patty made by LA company, “Beyond Meat”. They are well known for their plant based patties that uses beat juice to make the “meat” “bleed”, just like beef would? Each party is made from a mixture of rice, potatoaes, apples, red beets, coconut oil, yellow peas, pomegranate, and mung beans. The whole lot gives you 16 grams of plant protein in one patty round. But keep in mind although the party may be vegan, they are prepared on the same grill as all the restaurant’s beef burgers and eggs, without a cleaning of the griddle in between. Then the green patty does go into a burger with mayo and their uncle sauce, which both are made with animal products. So unless you make a special request and do some modifying this is a vegetarian sandwich.

“Beyond Meat” patties are typically available at natural food stores, sold in packs of two. However, I have yet to find them in the frozen food section of any specialty Canadian grocer. So on the date of this post, if you want to try them, they are exclusive to A&W for us Vancouverites. Where they will be made to order from any of their fast food franchise locations, across Canada.

Today I was here to try them for myself. Although I wish I had the opportunity to taste them for the very first time, as they were intended (as described above): in small batches. As apposed to this mass produced, fast food quality we got here. Because given its pedigree, I found it fell short on the hype.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a decent vegan patty in a fast food sandwich. And amongst all others and its fast food competition, it does stand out. But as is the case with any fast food burger, you can’t help but wonder how much better it would be with a fresh patty.

As for the taste test, I found that these frozen to grill patties didn’t bleed, beet juice or not. The patty was dry and easy to crumble. As is, I thought it lack seasoning, it didn’t have much of any flavour. But as a part to a whole, with enough sauce, the burger all together was tasty enough.

 

To watch the vlog version of my taste test, visit my YouTube channel: MaggiMei, for my latest video. Let’s just say, I get pretty creative towards the end.

Taco Del Mar, 5lbs burrito challenge

We made our own 5 pound burrito at Taco Del Mar!

Every year, for the last 10 years, the “Taco Del Mar” in Port Coquitlam celebrates Cinqo De Mayo in a very special way.

Every May 5th the date is observed, commemorating the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire, at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862. On this day many Mexican restaurants take this opportunity to showcase their culture through their cuisine. And at “Taco Del Mar”, Port Coquitlam (and only at this location) they host their annual “5-Pounder™ Burrito Eating Challenge”. 2018 will be the 10th year of this amateur eating competition.

They invite any and all challengers down, in an attempt to consume a 5 pound burrito in 30 minutes or less. In doing so, the behemoth is free, and you get your photo added to their wall of fame. A privilege only held for a select few. In the 10 years they have been hosting this challenge, only 6-8 individuals have risen to the occasion. This is our first year hearing about it, so this number may change. To date, the record for the fastest finishing time is 11minutes.

 

Each 5lbs burrito costs $30, it is made from the over lapping of 4 baked warm tortillas. The filling consists of 5 scoops of rice, 4 scoops of beans in either refried or black, 4 scoops of seasoned ground beef, 4 scoops of cheese in either shredded or queso, 4 scoops of salsa available in regular or mango, and 4 scoops of their sauce in either mild, medium, or spicy. All this is equivalent to four-and‐a‐half of their regular “Baja Burritos”.

If you wish to mix proteins or to have steak or chicken instead, you can pay $5 more to customize. Similarly you can choose to pay more for additional ingredients like guacamole, sour cream, cilantro, and lettuce.

Hot tip: ask to have your beans half black and half refried, do the same for the 2 types of cheeses and salsa. This gives your burrito a larger variety of textures and taste, thus increasing your chances of finishing. The photo above is the comparison between a regular burrito and the 5-Pounder.

To watch how we did, and to witness the creation of our very own customized 5lbs burrito, visit my YouTube channel: MaggiMei

 

You can also purchase the 5-Pounder without doing the challenge, or doing so with the intention to share, it will just cost you the $30 price. Once again this challenge is only available once a year so head down this Saturday, May 5th between 11am and 5pm to try it for yourself!

 

 

TACO DEL MAR(Port Coquitlam)
113-2020 Oxford Connector, Port Coquitlam BC, V3C 0A4
604-464-5388
https://www.facebook.com/pocotacodelmar
Taco Del Mar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pepper Lunch Canada, Cambie

“Pepper Lunch” is a fast food franchise, popularized within Japan with over 200 locations. They host several restaurants out of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, etc; and more recently, Canada. BC is home to three, two of which are within Richmond, but today I was at the third, in Vancouver. Invited to help celebrating their second year anniversary on Cambie Street.

When it comes to a media tasting: plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

This evening’s festivities were hosted by “Pepper Lunch Canada’s” owner and president, Dennis. He was friendly and approachable with a smile that stretched ear to ear, the ideal ambassador for the brand in friendly Canada.

We were welcomed in, and invited to take a seat at any of their tables. A row of them stretched down the side of the restaurant. Set against a chalkboard backdrop, with white paint scrawlings and sketches; walking you through their food and reaffirming your decision to dine with them.

Normally you would order at the hostess booth, either relying on one of their 25 preset menu items or customizing your own with their large assortment of protein, seafood, or vegetables to choose from. But today, in order to celebrate the occasion and give us a closer look at their operations, we were invited to dawn our own “Pepper Lunch” aprons and caps, and enter into the kitchen to work for our dinners.

We would craft our own perfect hot plate by checking off a few options off a card, then assembling it for ourselves. The same is possible for any customer looking to customize with as a little or as much of anything as they want; all except the ability to step behind the counter and do it for themselves. Though for those who are interested, you can gain a bird’s eye view of the kitchen’s going on’s by walking up the stairs and looking down from their mezzanine. This platform with a handful of tables and chairs also serves as a great place to host meetings or gather friends and family for a more private dinner.

 

To see what extra decadent dish I came up with, and all that I ate, check out my latest video on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

As we all waited our turns and got our photo ops, we were spoiled with a large rotation of appetizers floating around the room. Fried chicken bites and meat balls, the same ones available in their rice and pasta dishes.

I was partial to their gyozas with the perfect grill marks, and the curry sauce that came with the mini hamburger patties. New to their menu is tonkatsu (pork), which features the very same sweet Japanese curry that we used as a dip here. The Japanese classic was only launched two weeks ago (from the time of this post), and it is quickly becoming a fan favourite. The curry is made from scratch, in house, just like all their other sauces and seasonings. This is the case for everything but the two specialty table sauces imported from Japan and their mocchi dessert, sourced from a local purveyor.

The ordering process starts with you choosing either one of their sizzling steaks, pastas, curry rices, or signature pepper rice dishes. Whatever you like gets assembled on one of their patented hot teppan. This is a heavy cast iron pan with evenly spaced grill lines. It is heated over an element, and manages to keep its heat throughout the “cooking process” and you eating out of it. The heat of the pan continues to cook your gathered ingredients as it is being walked to your table, thus allowing your food to stay hotter for longer despite all your photo-taking. It literally comes sizzling.

This is their “Beef pepper rice”, their most popular dish. It is the one I would recommend for first timers to get them hooked. Don’t forget to use the sauces on the table for some extra kick, to further customize the flavour just as you want it.

Dennis prides himself and his business on sourcing out the best ingredients, at the best prices. He refuses to allow the quality of anything to diminish, insisting that his food is for those who can taste the quality in their choice to use certain ingredients. Premium ingredients the sakura pork, certified angus beef, and steelhead salmon that many of the plates dishes feature. Even the rice is of the highest quality. It is the same brand and quality used at high end sushi restaurants around town, but available here by the cooked cups-full, for $10-15 a plate to boot. The rice is washed, cooked, and portioned out perfectly by their “rice robot”. A machine that utilized automatic settings for precise work each and every time. Thus, the washing and cooking of the rice is always done right and consistent.

As I mentioned earlier, they also offer frozen desserts to round out a full meal. Delicious ice creams and popsicles that I suggest you save room for. Above is their sticky mocchi filled with either mango, green tea, or black sesame ice cream. A nice, icy cool, palette cleanser to balance out the heat of your meal before.

They also offer soy bean ice cream bars that are light and milky, with the consistency of a malted shake on a stick. Easy to bite into.

Our jovial night ended with a the clinking of glasses and a celebratory cheers, followed by  and the slicing and sharing of a giant sheet cake, stencil-ed with their brand’s logo.

 

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.
High end ingredients served at food court speeds, at fast food prices. A concept that will win anyone over with one taste. One of the places I continue to recommend for a quick and easy, wholesome and filling lunch that won’t have you breaking the bank. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

PEPPER LUNCH
2323 Cambie Street, Vancouver BC, V5Z 2T9
778-379-5138
pepperlunchcanada.com
Pepper Lunch Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

KFC Canada’s Waffle Double Down

There is a new way to enjoy the popular pairing of chicken and waffles! Reintroducing the “KFC Double Down”, this time with a waffle as its filling!

The original “Double Down” is two breaded and deep fried pieces of chicken breast sandwiching bacon and cheese. The name comes from the replacing of bread and buns with two of their white meat chicken breast. Well the idea is back and rejuvenated in this sweet and salty version. Same famous bun-less, all-chicken burger, but this time it is sandwiching waffles with a very Canadian twist. Instead of their famous gravy or the traditional maple syrup, the golden Belgian waffle “patty” comes smeared with plenty of a their maple aioli sauce.

This is actually my first time trying a “Double Down”. Admittedly I much more prefer their dark mean chicken drums and thigh in original recipe with ketchup, so whenever I visit that is what I order. But this reverse burger, playing off of everyone’s thirst for chicken and waffles sounded too perfect to not make a special trip for.

So we headed to our nearest mall food court to pick up a couple. I prefer my Kentucky Fried Chicken from a food court, than out of one of their free standing franchise chains. Thanks to mall staff, the dining area is a lot cleaner, not to mention better lit, with the ability to accommodate more bodies. Although when I was walking up to the kiosk, my heart sank, as there were no posters advertising this newest trendy food item. However, after inquiring about it, the cook and the staff were happy to announce that they do offer the reserve sandwich in both spicy (zinger) and original recipe chicken. I would get both, to double down on my “Double Down”!

At $9.95 they aren’t part of the economy meal, a little pricy for one “burger”. And hard to shell out for today considering its was a tuesday and their “Tuesday Special” has two pieces of chicken with fries as a set for $3.29. But I thought, “Hey, why not spoil myself a little this weekday brunch”. I made one sandwich a combo and got the other on the side with a smaller container of their thick gravy.

To watch my vlog of the tasting and experience, visit my YouTube channel: MaggiMei, for my latest video.

 

The chicken was crispy and warm, it kept its heat despite my mini photo shoot, furthered by generous dips into the warm side of gravy. I was most surprised by how good the waffle was. Naturally it warmed from was frozen, as this is fast food and I doubt KFC Canada corporate, rolled out waffle presses for each location with the necessary training on how to use it. So it is amazing how fluffy and delicious the waffle was, it didn’t even get soggy from first bite to last. But it was the creamy maple sauce that tied it all together. It wasn’t aggressively sweet, just the perfect bridge from salty and sweet to bring spicy chicken and honey waffle together in the perfect symmetry.

In short this was an amazing snack anytime of the day, and I can see myself going back and craving another after a few pints. This one should not be missed! Head down to your nearest and dearest KFC to try it before its is gone. It is so great to know we have something so fun in Canada, that a US fast food chain doesn’t. And now Americans have to drive up to get it. And if that is you, I can tell you the drive is worth it!

 

KFC CANADA
kfc.ca

IT Char Burger

My partner has been meaning to bring me to “Royal Mall” for some time now. This strip mall in New Westminster” is an out door space with an inside courtyard and foodcourt. The latter would be our destination. Where the number of available tables and the age of their chairs speak to the traffic. This is the home of “IT burger”, a foodcourt stall offering a plethora of cuisines, and not just what its name suggests.

“IT Burger” is known for their burgers and according to my partner, they are the ones to get. But for those looking for variety, they do offer the world’s cuisine from fried fish and chips to Korean BBQ bulgogi, from chicken noodles fried in a pan to chilli cheese dogs and butter chicken. The menu is basically a collage of photos. A clever idea, seeing as a pictures speak a thousand words and coming across their booth, one might be weary of what they could get. Here the photos looked good, so you wanted to try them.

Based on my partner’s frequency, he believes the same man serving us today is also the shop owner. He has only seen the one guy behind the counter across a handful of visits. This one man working by himself six days in a row from 8am to 7pm, and Friday until 8:30pm. So it is commendable that his food is always consistent from start of the day to the end.

This mid afternoon, the plaza was considerably busier: the after school crowd and families shopping after work. We were the first to order, with four individual men following suite, sporadically after.

As my first time I went for their signature “IT Char Burger”. The ingredients weren’t listed, but the back lit photo of it was delicious looking enough. Two juicy char broiled burgers topped with a mound of caramelized onion and bacon bits.

The time the burger patty and its bottom bun spend on the stove top really sets it apart. The char gives it a different taste and texture. A nice crispness on the outside to parallel the crispy lettuce on the inside. There was a good ratio of bun and ingredients to burger patty, although most of the lettuce did fall out between bites; not that it felt like a lost. Overall a stand out regular burger. So tasty because it was so done well. And as satisfying for the wallet at around $10 or so.

My partner got his favourite, the “Teriyaki burger” with lettuce. It had one of the same patties that I had in my burger, heavily coated in a sweet and salty, syrupy teriyaki sauce. He too had the lettuce in his burger fall out due to gravity.

Almost as good as the burgers were the side of fries that accompanied them. Not just your regular thick cut potato sticks. But these fries had an extra coating and a second dip for some extra crunch. The larger sticks were my favourite, where its shell hid soften mashed potatoes within. A thick gravy would have been ideal here, although the traditional ketchup packet was no slouch.

Definitely a greasy meal that you wouldn’t have every day, but a great stop when you are craving a good burger. And if all the above was this good, I am curious to see his take on eggs and French toast, a grilled chicken wrap, or just more from his burger line: including chicken patties and burgers seasoned with Korean flavours.

 

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.
Chances of you stumbling upon this on your own are slim. You have to know to make this your destination, taking the trouble to come here, just like we did. And it is worth it. Especially when you throw in supporting a local small business. Once again, we highly suspect that the owner is working in his kitchen six days a week. He gets patrons, but not enough to warrant more than him manning the cash register and the stove stop. Hopefully this changes. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

IT CHAR BURGER
29-800 McBride Blvd, New Westminster BC, V3L 2B8
604-521-8783
IT Char Burger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Assembli

Today I was invited as media to check out a pizza and salad joint with a very appealing concept. This is Vancouver’s first and only restaurant that allows you the ability to customize your meal without consequences.

Customization of all and any ingredients at one flat price. If you didn’t want to budget to have things prepared your way, you didn’t have to here; and neither does the employee behind the counter, having to figure it out. This is a cleaver concept, sure to engage loyalty from an improved customer experience.

They are located on Cambie between 7th and 8th, by West Broadway. Their location makes them a great hub for quickie work lunches and after school meals in a pinch. The neighbourhood was certainly taking advantage of their newer presence, as seen by the rotation of delivery personnel walking in and taking out, during the duration of our visit.

The space is uplifting with vaulted ceilings and a colourful mural. The bold representation of our fair city’s skyline immediately draws your eyes. It includes the Science World globe and the Granville street bridge, which is only a stone’s throw from where we were. An all window front give diners a good look in, while their side table set up outside gives them a little more information on what could be had within. The open space is lined with dark chairs and glossy tables to help yourself to. And a counter of cutlery, condiments, and take out containers to use as you need.

Once again, their menu make them ideal for quick lunches: pizza and salads on the go. Although it may be hard to read the fine descriptive print from the over hanging menu board (one that the owner says she plans to correct shortly)

Many love either pizza or salad, and many more both; so bringing them together and specializing in them under this roof made sense. There is something for everyone, which includes vegans, and anyone with dietary restrictions. With a tofu crumble in place of meat, vegan cheese, and a gluten free pizza dough.

Today we wouldn’t be customizing our meal, but instead relying on their pre-set dishes, ones perfectly crafted to balance textures and taste. All the work is done behind a glass-shielded counter, which gives you a look at the salad topping or pizza rolling process. Many metal buckets of meat, cheeses, sauces, fresh vegetables, and nuts. The staff working behind them are all wearing fun food related tee shirts. “The avocado life choose me”, “just do whatever you want”, and a big image of a button mushroom slice.

They offer traditional salads and ones that are nutrient dense, favourites and classics all on one board. $10.99 for any regular and $12.99 for any large, which includes the custom build salads for the same price. Three ingredients or seven, it is all the same. Add any protein and you don’t get charged $4 for it. Except for fior di latte and vegan cheese for $2.50 more, and $2.99 for gluten-free crust. I almost rather not be given the option of any of the there, and leave the promise that all and any ingredients will be for one set price.

In case you are greedy as I am, and tend to go overboard, they will tell you when too much is enough in a salad, and when another topping will leave your pizza toppling. Adding 12, might not have it cooking as well.

Each pizza is made using their crust brushed in olive oil, before being pressed and baked in individual pods from Italy, these ovens are designed for quick wood fire-like baking. Ideal for their fast-food pizzas. Each 11 inch pizza is one price: $12.99.

They have some pretty interesting ingredients to wade through like quinoa, a curry tomato sauce, blue cheese, anchovies, hard boiled eggs, many raw and roasted vegetables, artichoke, roasted broccoli, celery, blueberry, and walnuts.

I am admittedly not a salad person, I would not order a salad because I don’t want to pay for something that is assembled raw. However, the way these were crafted was well done and worth my reconsideration. There was a great mix of textures and ingredients in each bowl, helping to keep your mouth interested until the last bite. However they looked more appealing in their see-through, take-out container-cups. Here, I just didn’t take one bite to taste and to be able to blog, but I actually went for second bites and larger scoops to enjoy what I was having. But mind you, no where near as much as I preferred the carbs of the pizza below.

This is the “O-mega Brainiac salad” distinct for use of refreshing cucumber and blueberries; along with mixed greens, quinoa, cabbage, beers, avocado salsa, walnuts, and a seed mix. It is normally served with their “glory dressing”, but for us they offered the visual aesthetics of the golden-sun yellow “goddess dressing”. Once again, there was enough going on to keep you interested. Crisp leaves, juicy berries, hearty quinoa, and a velvety sauce to tie it all together. And the “glory” dressing was a nice summery citrus.

The “Sexy hippy” was the salad version of a stew with brown rice, celery, and roasted carrots and potatoes; along with mixed greens, quinoa, bested parsley, apple, and walnuts. This was well tied together with their honey Dijon dressing.

The “Wild cowboy” was like tex-mex in a bowl: mixed greens, romaine, brown rice, mixed bell peppers, black beans, cheddar, corn salsa, and pico de gallo. Ours came with the addition of shredded chicken breast. Served with their southwest dressing. This was my favourite of the salads with the sweet corn and the sharp cheese.

Each pizza is served on a waxy sheet, on it, written in black sharpie is its name and the name of the prep cook that assembled it for you today.

The “Smooth crimini kale” was my favourite. The crispy fried, olive oil tossed kale leaves had me eating all my greens. Sautéed mushroom, mozzarella, artichoke, red onion, and a white pizza sauce. I liked all the layers of cheese in the white sauce, it really made each bite pop. A great smooth cream to match the tender textures of the mushroom and artichoke that sat nestled, embedded within it.

The “All Greek to me” had goat feta, mozzarella, olives, artichoke, roasted red peppers, and olive oil-tossed kale; all on a bed of tomato sauce, drizzle over with balsamic. It also typically comes with genoa salami, but this version did without, and it didn’t need it. There was already so much flavour to go around with the salty olives. Although I did find it very similar to the pizza above, with the use of artichokes and crispy kale.

For those who like some heat on their pizza the “Smoke and fire” did not misrepresent. Spicy with banana peppers and a spicy tomato sauce. And smokey with the use pepperoni and smoked cheddar; along with red onion and mozzarella. It was a little on the salty side, so best paired with a salad or beer.

The “Backyard BBQ” is for those who like a little sweetness on their pizza. Herb-roasted chicken, mozzarella, cheddar, red onion, bell peppers, cilantro, BBQ sauce, and a yogurt and adobo drizzle. The sweet barbecue flavour was most prominent, with a hint of smokiness in the sauce. The sweet grilled pepper offered a refreshing element. Whereas I wanted more from the menu-promised yogurt drizzle.

They also offer superfood smoothies, but we were more interested in dessert. Here they celebrate Calgary based, all natural, small batch gelato purveyors: Fisaco in single serve cups. Bourbon vanilla bean, salted caramel, and dark chocolate caramel sea salt. And the dairy-free strawberry rhubarb, raspberry lime, and mango pineapple.

 

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.
With fresh and wholesome ingredients, they make a great option for everything eating. Especially with their fair prices and the option for $5 happy hour wine and beer, and $10 happy hour pizzas and salads. Not necessary a destination, but a great addition to the neighbourhood, for those living and working in the area. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

ASSEMBLI
2325 Cambie Street, Vancouver BC
604-873-1253
assembli.ca
Assembli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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