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Category: fastfood Page 1 of 3

Twilight Drive-In with the Honda CRV

I have never been to a drive-in movie theatre before, so what better a time than during the last bit of dry season, to check out the “Twilight Drive-In” in Aldergrove. Although, regardless of weather, all movies scheduled for the day will still play: rain, shine, sleet, or snow.

Our vehicle of choice: to get us there and to sit and enjoy the movie in was the “2019 Honda CRV”. With its best in class fuel economy, even though the drive was far, our wallets didn’t suffer too much. Which meant more money spent on movie-viewing snacks.

Your choice in movies are posted online, a few days before the start of the week. Originally we were planning on visiting during a Tuesday, when general admission is only $10, and you save $3.50 per person. But for fall, they are only open from Friday to Sunday. And this week it was a marathon of clowns. Either the new “Joker” movie at 7:30pm or “IT 2” at 9:40pm. But you needn’t choose, because admission allows you to watch both movies. It is worth noting that they only accept cash or debit at the box office, and cash at the concession. Although there is an ATM on location, so should you need it.

The box office opens 45minutes before the start of the movie. Ushers with reflective jackets and flashlights help guide your way. Each vehicle is given a plastic garbage bag, and encouraged to use it instead of littering. It is first come first serve, and you park where ever you want. We drove to the very front as to not have the view of any other cars in our foreground. Individual spaces are marked with a white pole, well aligned to ensure that each vehicle has plenty of room between one another. The overall ground is flat, but each “stall” has a little mound of dirt that you can use to perch your vehicle atop of.

Many of the SUVs present, reversed into their stall. With an opened tailgate, passengers bundled up to watch the movie, cozy with pillows and blankets surrounding them. Had we known this before arriving, we would have dressed warmer and done the same. After all our “Honda CRV” came with plenty of cargo room, and two-level flat luggage compartment. A “full flat mode” and a “capacity max mode”, both designed to fit your storage needs, or in this case two grown adults.

For audio you need to tune into a specific FM station, within your car. Meaning you can set the volume to how loud you like it. I enjoyed being able to talk over the movie, to engage with my guest, snack loudly on our food, rustle with careless abandon when I wanted some candy, and turn on the light if we dropped anything. And not encouraged, but possible, is playing with your phone during the movie as well.

To access the audio it is recommended that you turn your key to the “Accessory” position, to consume as little power as possible. You also leave your headlights and brake lights off during the movie (as to not distract from other’s experience). Cars with daytime running lights usually can be turned off by applying the emergency brake.

For food, you get out of the car to purchase what ever you like from their indoor concession stand. This is also where the washrooms are. There are only 2 tills, and the clerk that takes your order is also the one that assembles it. Everything minus the burgers and fried food, which comes from the kitchen. So be warned and come early, as there is a wait to get in, let alone order. I didn’t mind the extra time, to look over the lengthy menu. I was delighted that they offer a lot more than most normal movie theatres do. Fountain drinks in plenty of flavours, bottled drinks, energy drinks, ice coffees, and hot beverages. If you are looking for something more substantial they have plenty of sweet snacks to munch on: a variety of chocolates, gummies, and candies; ice cream bars, and even sno cones. For savoury there was the classic buttered popcorn, corn dogs, burgers, hot dogs, fries, poutine, onion rings; and nachos.

We feasted in the comfort of our Honda CRV cabin. Where we were able to sprawl everything across the central console. Convenient, as we stayed in the front seat for the duration movie, lowering our perforated leather seats back for the perfect recline. The only hiccup, not being able to run our vehicle fully meant no heated seats or rain sensing wipers. So with the gentle rain coming down, there was the need to turn on the car in order to clear the wind shield of moisture now and again. Had we watched from the tailgate, the above wouldn’t have been an issue.

As for the aforementioned food, the following is all that we shared and it was all better than we expected. The “Nachos supreme” came with some assembly required. A sealed bag of corn chips that you pour out into a cardboard box and top with sliced jalapeño. All to enjoy with a dip into hot nacho cheese and/or a scoop of juicy tomato salsa.

The large order of popcorn came with multiple pumps of butter. A couple mid way through, and more, once filled. The ideal snack for any movie goer.

The onion rings had a good crispiness to them, but I wanted more crunchy batter and less gummy onion.

I liked the use of actual cheese curds in the poutine, but not so much the gravy. It was flat and I could have used some more pepperiness to it.

The chicken bites came with your choice of sauce. We went for the honey garlic, which was two sauces combined in one dish. They did what I wanted, adding some salty and sweet to these breaded nuggets of white meat.

The hot dog was exactly as expected. A regular wiener in a plain bun, which you dress as you like at the condiment bar.

I was surprised by how much I liked the “Double burger”, I added cheese to this stack of burger patties, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and pickles. It just needed more ketchup for my taste.

And for dessert, our favourite candy to leave our meal on a sweet note. I thought about ice cream or a sno cone, but didn’t want to visit the concession stand mid movie or in the little time you have between movies.

Between the double feature there is an intermission, a video plays inviting your to visit the concession stand. It is basically food coming to life in games and dance. Gum and liquorice jumping rope, a popsicle leading cups of ice cream in a march, and a bag of popcorn juggling its fillings. And when the hot dog wiener takes the stage and eventually lands in the bun, everyone honks their car horn. The honk serves no other purpose, besides you acknowledging that you have been to the drive-in before and know of this ritual.

As for the movie, I don’t review cinema; although as a longtime Batman comics fan, I can say that this Joker’s origin story holds up and satisfies. And as for “IT 2” I am a notorious scaredy cat, so couldn’t stomach most of it without closing my eyes tight and plugging my ears with my finger tips.

Overall, I highly recommend this experience. This was a great way to enjoy a newly released movie, in the comfort of a car, with surprisingly tasty food to boot. And done even better if your vehicle of choice is the 2019 Honda CRV.

HONDA
#HondaCRV
https://www.honda.ca/

TWILIGHT DRIVE-IN
3350 260 St, Aldergrove, BC V4W 2B1
(604) 856-5063
twilightdrivein.net

Hot Star Large Fried Chicken

My guest and I met up and started our meal with dessert, so now after four cakes we were both craving for something savoury, salty, and hearty. Her mind went straight for deep fried chicken, and lucky for us, Richmond has a new one.

Made popular in the lower mainland by the Richmond Night Market; and the ability to pose with a slab of chicken, larger than the size of your head. That was “G-Star”, a replica of “Hot Star”, originating from Taiwan. My guest believed that someone saw how well “G-Star” was doing and decided to bring the original rendition to Canada, as this franchise.

The restaurant is pretty straightforward. A row of tables on either side. On the wall on the left was a series of photos presenting the extent of their menu. Easy to entice, easy to order. Photos of their chicken in its various formats, and a couple of their drinks.

On the right hand side, a visual instruction on how to eat their chicken. The recommended first bite, where to watch out for bones, where the meat is the juiciest, and which pieceto end your meal on.

You walk up the the back counter and order from there. Which might be intimating when the restaurant is empty and they have 3 employees behind it, and two more visible in the kitchen, awaiting your decision. The menu is splashed above the counter, a series of drinks, followed by their specialty chicken steak, more chicken served different ways, and the sides. The latter was interesting, not just your typical fries and slaw with chicken, but spring rolls, corn on the cob, rice, and even fried buns.

However, it was disappointing to see that parts of the menu was listed as “coming soon”, with menu images obscured by the declaration. Disappointing, because I wanted to try their melted cheese stuffed chicken, and their regular take on fried chicken.

Nonetheless, we ordered to dine in, but they don’t have any plates, plastic or otherwise. They suggest eating off the paper bag, over the plastic one, you receive with your order. It was too hot and too hard to eat holding it, so knife and fork over plastic it was. And needless to say, it wasn’t an easy or great dining experience.

Having tried the large steak from “Big G’s” I can’t help but compare the two now. And right away, I can tell you they aren’t the same. Two completely different products with the same premise. A hammered out and flattened piece of dark meat chicken, battered and fried with a series of available seasonings. This seasoning mix and their textures is where they differ. I found “Hot Star’s” salt and pepper original cutlet more saltier and more tangier for starters. And the meat juicier at “Big G’s”.

What looks like a lot of meat is actually, 40% bone and you are left scraping what little meat there is left to better satisfy. I had the “Korean large fried chicken”, but didn’t taste much or any of the sauce. I felt it was stickier in texture because of it, and did make out the sesame seeds that were stuck all over it. But it didn’t taste much different than the regular below.

My guest got the “Original large fried chicken”. Available in salt and pepper, seaweed, spicy, plum, and curry. She enjoyed the former the most. Once again, not much different than mine, just more of its gritty crusty texture coming through.

Things did get salty, so it was nice to have a drink and side to help change the taste. I found their soda the perfect palette cleanser, especially my “Blue curaçao yogurt” drink, its creaminess cut through the deep fry easily. My guest enjoyed her “Grapefruit mojito” just as much.

But the real star of our meal was the “fried king oyster mushrooms”. They weren’t too dry or too chewy. The mushrooms popped with juice and gave the meal some freshness.

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.
I wouldn’t go out of my way to avoid a revisit, but they won’t be my first choice for fried chicken in Richmond. Don’t deny your cravings.

HOT STAR
1623-4791 Mcclelland Road, Richmond, BC V6X 0M5
(604) 370-1955
hot-star.ca

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

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