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Category: Filipino

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/

Kulinarya

This is that restaurant where your meal is stretched out across the table, over banana leaves. All the photos we’ve seen on Instagram had us making a reservation for ourselves.”Kulinarya” is an authentic filipino restaurant with two locations, each with a slightly different menu. Thus giving you a reason to travel out to both their homes in Coquitlam (the original) and Commercial Drive (the new). Today we were at the latter because it was a closer location to all of us, as both host the Kamayan-style dinner we were here for.

“Kamaya” is a traditional meal eaten with no plates or silverware, just you digging in with your bare hands. So popular that the restaurant built a separate sink outside of the washroom, to wash your hands before and after your meal.

But first, there are some requirements to meet before you can lunch. This isn’t a last minute walk-in meal, you have to make reservations 48 hours in advance, with a minimum seating of six adults. The price is set, varying between days. Tuesdays-Thursdays adults pay $25 per head, kids under 10, $15. Fridays-Sundays adults pay $30, and you pay $20 for kids under 10. Their website states that pre-payment is required to reserve the date, however this was not the case for us, as we simply emailed our request and order, then paid after our meal concluded.

When ordering you select one dish out of the five categories they offer, and they assemble it all together for you with steamed rice, lumpiang shanghai (Pork and vegetable spring rolls), longganisa (Filipino sausage), fried sweet potato and chopped vegetables. These I really enjoyed with the three varieties of sauces provided per person, The spring rolls were crispy and tasty, the sweet potato slices were crispy like chips, and the sausages offered savoury mouthful with spices.

Although once again their online menu differed from what you actually get. Most notable and disappointing was lack of “halo halo” that was promised as dessert. I wish this would have been communicated during the many email exchanges I had with the owners, while securing our table and meal. What they did deliver on that the website promised was the 20% service charge.

The five categories to choose one item in are pork, beef, chicken, veggies, and seafood. Basically these are all things available off the regular menu, gathered together like a feast. We chose the following.

  • The “Crispy pata” was our group’s favourite. Deep fried pork leg with house-made dipping sauce. It offered a crispy skin with salted meat, the stand out flavour of the assembly.
  • “Kaldereta” is hearty beef stewed in a tomato sauce with potatoes and vegetables. It gave the feast some sauce, and the rice that sat below it was the tastiest.
  • The chicken brined in tamarind and then deep fried was a little dry. I didn’t taste any tamarind, and instead found myself reaching for one of the 3 containers of sauces we to help add flavour and offer some sweet or saltiness to our meal.
  • I liked the vegetables for the freshness they provided. The “pinakbet” was described as “mixed asian vegetables” in shrimp paste. The “mix” included okra, japanese pumpkin, corn on the cob, green beans, sweet peppers and even bitter melon (that was a surprise). There were also semi raw and tart fruit in the mix like mango and pineapple for some sweetness and juice.
  • I enjoyed the “Bangus” as is, fried boneless milkfish with a crispy skin. It came with a  salsa of corn kernels, diced tomato, red onion, and green onion.

They only give you 2 hours to finish, so the latest reservation you can make is at 7pm, as they close earlier at 9pm. So you actually walk into the restaurant and your reservation with the table already set, and your party ready to eat. However this was unbeknown to us, and I was planning to be late all along. So sadly my dear friends and I had the above cold, as it was nearly 30 minutes after our 7pm reservations; by the time I drove down, found parking, and took the above photos. However, despite that the food still tasted great. So much so that we quickly crammed our faces, not having to worry about the politeness of using cutlery, shovelling meat and veg with pinches of rice to follow into our gaping mouths. There is no better way to get friendly with another than to eat so forward, especially towards the one you end up facing.

When it came to discarding bones and rind I did feel bad for creating a little pile on the leaf, as this was a shared serving of sorts. None-the-less with no other way this is what everyone else resorted to. We also all carved out our own serving by scooping rice and meat towards ourselves, indirectly creating a divide between the line of food. Although the servers did a great job in ensuring everyone got a bit of everything before them when they laid out the “Kamaya”.

In the end, what was left was plenty of rice. There was so much that even after we took most of what was left home in a doggy bag, that there was enough rice to feed 4, left undressed on our used leaves. But when it came time to clean up they simply folded in the ends and rolled the sheet of leaf up for easy tidying and discarding.

Here, our included dessert turned out to be canned fruit mixed with fresh condense and coconut milk. It wasn’t as expected, but it was the kind of refreshing dessert that our bodies were craving. It helped to cleanse the palette after such a rich meal before.

I was eying the full menu before, and after we wrapped up our “Kamayan” style meal, I was contemplating on getting a few of the more unique menu items to try. However the decision was made for me, when I was informed that they ran out of one and the other was only available in the AM. The desire to try was strong enough that I immediately made reservations with the group to return and try more what they had to offer on their regular menu. I did this, taking to heart the sign they hung by the door reading, “I just don’t want to look back one day and think “I could’ve eaten that”!”

On our second visit I was early, and better able to take in the decor and the setting that surrounded us, not to mention, they weren’t all that busy during a late afternoon lunch service on Sunday. The exterior is a simple white with a black lined sketch of leaves surrounding their restaurant’s name in bold cursive. It stood out when compared to its more colourful neighbours.

Inside the restaurant was a long stretch that felt like two restaurants melded into one. On the right brown and white brick wall, hung framed art. The left, a splotchy pattern and booths upholstered with green and yellow patterns, giving the restaurant a more exotic feel. This was more complementary of the artwork that greeted you at the entrance.

As I mentioned earlier, this time around we ordered a few of their more curious items off their regular menu. But first, our meal began with some complementary nuts. The way they were seasoned and shaped, and how crunchy they were, reminded us of corn nuts.

The “Pig ears chips” are thinly sliced pig ears, battered and fried for a nice crunch; served with a house made soy and vinegar dipping sauce. Some pieces were fattier, I preferred the “chips” that were more thoroughly dried out for a better crunch. They were similar to pork rinds, but without the gristle or the guilt. You don’t often see pig ears prepared like this, more often it is smoked or marinated. Like this they made a great snack, and something easy to chomp down on with beers.

The “Pandan chicken wings” where the main reason I insisted on returning, and the item on their menu that I wanted to try the most. Though sadly they did not live up to the hype I gave them. I am a big fan of pandan, it is one of my favourite flavours and seeings as you don’t find it often on many restaurant menus, I was overjoyed to see it used in a new application that I have ever heard of or tried. First, I was utterly disappointed that they were not coloured bright green. Second, I didn’t taste any of it, which immediately had me skeptical of its presence. Third, this was described as “Crispy chicken wings tossed in avsweet pandan sauce”. It was more like a tangy and vinegary fish sauce, or at best a loose interpretation of honey garlic wings using pandan as a mild flavouring. It was good, but without its name sake ingredient prominent, disappointing. Plus, they weren’t crispy, but instead, more saucy.

I was also excited to try the “Ube pancakes”, but like the wings above, I couldn’t make our the taste of the purple yam/sweet potato in the pancakes. But at least they got the colour right: a bold royal purple. I also wished that they kept all the sizes of the pancake consistent. It was like one guy started making one, and when the next guy took over decided to do them his way. Also to make this something special they could have ditched the maple syrup side, and made it their own with a coconut or condense milk based sauce. Texture wise they were good, denser than a regular pancake, but still light.

We then also shared some dishes with more substance, for a fuller meal. The “Pork belly and chicken adobo” was listed under the “one plate meal” section of the menu. It was white rice topped with vinegar braised pork belly and chicken, garlic, potato, and onions. Then finished with half a boiled egg. It was tasty, but incredibly dry with all the rice. You just wanted some gravy for moisture and to make this a complete comfort dish.

Luckily we were able to borrow sauce from the “Kare-kare”. This is beef, tripe, and vegetables in a creamy peanut sauce. Half the group didn’t like the idea of tripe and given that there was the word “option” in brackets after it, we decided to forgo it all together. However, mid way through our meal we noticed a piece of tripe, and then another. Had this been an allergy related request it could have gone side ways. Luckily it was not and we were good to enjoy how delicious the sauce was. It was the most memorable of our meal, and we all agreed we would come back for it. But be warned, if you decide to check this place out for yourself, it is cash or debit only.

 

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.
Despite my critiques everything was good, and as their website mentions, they aren’t many other filipino restaurants in the area, or many in the lower mainland for that matter. So all that in itself makes them something special. Then you add in the unique cuisine interpretations and the ability to eat with your hands apologetically, this was a fun review to write and a great experience to have twice in two weeks. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

KULINARYA
1134 Commercial Drive, Vancouver BC, V5L 3X2
604-255-4155
kulinarya.ca
Kulinarya Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bao Down Gastropub & Raw Bar

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I have been meaning to try this one of a while now, so to walk in, wade past the plumes of smoke, and to hear that they had a problem with their kitchen; had me setting myself for a deep disappointment. The smokey air was due to a poor ventilation issue, but it would soon be resolved.

This is their newest and second location, in Olympic Village. It comes a lot more space covered in a lot of varnished wood. A lengthy family style table centred the room between booths on either ends. Above them all were wood blocks holding bulb after protruding bulb, with several more strung together by black cable. Yet somehow the room was still fairly dim in an orange tint.

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But what really catches your attention is their mural of a bull and an elephant painted in several swatches. Each mammals was endowed with colourful mounds of sinew and muscles, and on it homages to their restaurant and the community that supported them.

The bar was to its right, and this was what I was eyeing. We stayed and started our meal with drinks, to give the kitchen time to recoup. We were super excited to try their homemade Thai ice tea, but sadly it had gone sour. The bar manager took the time to walk to our table to tell us this, grievously.

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Instead I went for their “Coconut C.R.E.A.M.” cocktail instead. It is prepared with coconut ciroc, coconut water, pineapple juice, lemon juice, and an egg white foam. This was a nice tropical drink, similar to a watered down piña colada. It had a lovely sweeter finish, thanks to the foam that topped it.

Their food menu was fairly diverse, they offered all sorts of delicious sounding Pan Asian dishes. (This is definitely my type of food.) All your favourite dishes from in and around Asia was represented between these pages. Their take on Halo Halo from the Philippines, a green papaya salad and pad Thai from Thailand, they represented Vietnamese cuisine with their style of crispy chicken and the use of fish sauce and banh mi, the nod to Hawai came with their poke and their “luau” crispy pork belly, the kimchi flavoured fries were for Korea, and the use of nori (seaweed) and the tuna tataki dish were for Japan.

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I appreciated their use of puns, like “fly rice”, it played tribute to their love of 90’s hip hop; along with the many classics playing over ahead, and the menu’s unique cover. Not many restaurants play hip hop, and as one of my preferred genres, I take note. Snoop Dogg, N.W.A., Biggie, and Jay-Z; to name a few. The 90’s themed also carried on to the movie posters that were plastered along the hall, enroute to the washroom. As a 90’s baby I too appreciated this.

Oysters were on special and heavily captured on their social media, as part of their “raw bar”. However, I wouldn’t necessarily think to order them here, especially given how many of the fully cooked dishes that were worth trying. It was hard for us to narrow down our choices.

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The “Fly Hawaiian poke” gave you your choice of ahi tuna, albacore tuna, salmon, or tofu as the main protein. You also got to choose your sauce between Sesame-shoyu, gochu jang-miso, or coconut ceviche. We ordered based on our honest server’s recommendations. Ahi in a sauce made from the combination of the first two. We wouldn’t even though that was a possibility, had we not asked her. Although we did lean towards the coconut option out of curiosity, but it felt like a specific flavour to have to commit to. What we had instead was a well seasoned, perfectly salted poke with pops of tang. Tender fish meets melt in your mouth avocado for a creamy and citrusy finish. I wanted to, but couldn’t taste the compressed pineapple mentioned in the line up. The oily sheets of flimsy nori and the airy rice cakes were meant as base, but I didn’t find that they added anything to the already tasty poke, besides texture. It was hard to scoop fish and avocado on to seaweed, and the rice puffs reminded me of the sensation of gnawing on dry styrofoam.

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My guest had never tried bone marrow before, so we decided to try their marrow with an herb, butter, and shrimp topping. Bone marrow, gulf prawns, garlic scrape butter, panko herb crumb, and banh mi. I always thought that “banh mi” meant “sandwich”, when in reality it refers to the “bread”. It was an oily and tough segment of French bread. Though, I didn’t mind the extra lubricant, as you didn’t get any of the natural oil from the bone marrow. It was more a burnt cheese and shrimp dip served in a hollowed out bone boat. Disappointing for me and a sad first try of bone marrow for my guest.

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The many descriptives and the long winded name for their chicken wings hid them on the menu. “Locally sourced, local, organic, free range, free run, antibiotic free, hormone free, unvaccinated, and socially adapted chicken wings”. To me they were just honey garlic flavoured wings with a thick crispy breading. Good, but not worth all its titles.

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They are named after, and better known for their white flour baos. So we went for their most popular, the “Bao chicka Bao Bao”. Garlic and lemon grass fried chicken, daikon, carrot, crisp garlic, fish sauce glaze, and garlic mayo. All the flavours meshed well together, but there was not enough meat for all the dough, and too much pickled tang from the vegetable and mayo without more of it. Luckily our chicken wings above were useful for an easy fix here. They also tasted better with the accompaniments.

 

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.
The food was more fun than memorable. The ideas were well conceived and I wanted them to tickle my tastebuds more. However like their plates, their descriptions were bigger than they needed to be. Although I was slightly let down, they still served well as a lively place to share a few appies at. And a comfortable place to sit and chill with a mixed drink, a few snacks, and the golden age of hip hop. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BAO DOWN
115 West 2nd Avenue, Vancouver BC,
604-620-5226
baodown.net
Bao Down Gastropub & Raw Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kumare Restaurant & Bakery

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I have known my guest for a while and I have always known him to be a conservative eater. McDonalds over any bowl of pho, Uncle Willy’s over a sushi set. However since marrying his wife, she has shown him a whole new world, and he himself was becoming well versed in Chinese and Filipino cuisine. So today I invited myself to their date night to see this in action. Not only will this night serve as a great chance for us to catch up and for me to formally meet his wife, but she would prove to be the best guide for this tour of traditional Filipino cuisine.

The restaurant is in their neck of the woods, one I have never heard of. But apparently the area has recently emerged as a new Filipino neighbourhood, and this is one of their favourite spots.

Located in a shopping plaza, it seems like a convenient place for families to go, when no one wants to cook. It certainly looks like they took care of their community well, the way so many individuals were gathered her tonight. Many tables were sat, and many of those on them spoke Tagalog. I however, felt out of place, waiting for my food guides to come, they would be my “in”.

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“Kumare” is a newer establishment, with a bakery and plenty of dine in space. Their baked goods were displayed on top of the counter and behind a refrigerated glass display. They were well stocked in pastries and breads, that many diners bought on their way out. I, myself included. Seeing how many people came in and how many of their baked goods left the shelf and refrigerated until each time, I went ahead and got some of them myself. The ones I was interested in I took go, before my meal began, and before they were sold out.

Basically their was anything with purple yam in it. Ube is popular in Filipino cuisine and its bold purple hue is always worth capturing in my books.

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The “Ensaymada” is a brioche style pastry with a creamy ube centre. I loved the taste of the purple yam, and wished there was a lot more of it, for an even bread and filling ratio. Butter, sugar, and cheese; the dough is like a bready yet cakey doughnut. And the granulated sugar topping it lent it a nice crunch.

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The “Lipstick” was a tasty pastry with a funny name. We suspected the name came from the fact that the deep purple ube, looked like it was coming out from both ends, like lipstick in its dispenser. It is one of the better things I have put in my mouth. I could just eat sheets and sheets of the sweet yam cream. It looked like gel, but was actually thick and solid. The bread part was good too, but a lot more dense.

The decor was fairly simple and things still looked pretty new. Their logo was a bird on a branch, it graced the back of their counter along with their name. Wooden tables and chairs with their seats unscuffed. Red booths against the wall feeling crisp, only a few spots looked stressed with customer wear.

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Reading the menu, with its limited photos, it was hard to tell what was good. Under each traditional dish name was its list of ingredients, I could only imagine how each tasted. So I conceded and allow my hosts to steer all the ordering. I was at least able to navigate the dessert menu with ease.

Our meal began and was peppered with great historical information as well as fun facts from my guide. She explained how everything would be presented family style. We would be ordering several dishes with rice to share. The meal would not come with knife and fork, but with fork and spoon. The spoon’s edge was used to cut; the fork, a shovel to move food onto the spoon. (It dawned on me that before being with my French Canadian partner I never used knife to cut or shovel either. I guess it is a cultural thing.) Fun facts included how in the Philippines folks ate bananas with ketchup. Words and names of things repeated themselves to give it a sing songy feel. Salads are treated like a condiment, rather than a side. And rice goes with everything, for breakfast it is flavoured in garlic.

But what I found most interesting was to hear my host describe Filipino food as “an example of appropriation in culture, in a good way”. The thought is that Filipino food is a mish mash of cultures, picking and taking what they want to make it their own. This included Chinese, Spanish, and American dishes made using Filipino ingredients. Although sauces and flavours changed from region to region. Therefore there was no such thing as “proper” Filipino cooking, which is why there isn’t any Filipino cookbooks. How can there be when each island varies in their version of one dish, there was no consistency, no one is aligned. Everyone does their own style and it is accepted as being good.

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Our first dish was the Filipino version of Chinese spring rolls, “Lumpiang Shanghai”. Bite sized, deep fried pork and shrimp rolls filled with minced vegetable and meat. Best enjoyed with the sweet chilli sauce on the side. The meaty filling reminded me of a sausage, how it was packed in tight, like a tube. It is surrounded by a light crispy shell for a nice texture. And it is really the dipping sauce that gives this dish its flavour.

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The “Sizzling pork sisig” delivered on its name. This was a cast iron plate heated and brought to your table to further bake and cook before your very eyes. It was a mix of pork cheek, onions, and a cracked egg getting crispy on the sizzling plate.

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The history behind this dish is that American soldiers posted in the Philippines would buy up all the prime cuts of meat. They would leave what was left to the locals, which was typically random pig parts and their organs. But it is amazing that these unwanted “leftovers” would be brought together and used to make something as delicious as this. Often salty and a lot greasy, this is considered classic bar food, best taken with beer. Typically it is served with kalamapsi, a fruit that is the fusion of a tangerine and a lemon. Though the fruit is on the pricier side, so today they have used a lemon wedge instead.

Our host squeeze in then lemon, then mixed everything together with crossed utensils; blending egg and meat together. The crunchy bites of meat at the bottom was the best part. It reminded me of pork hash in flavour and texture, but smelled so much better.

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“Beef kare kare” is the Filipino version of butter chicken; as sweet, but made with beef. The sauce was the best part here, I would have liked it just as much? even if it was just sauce and rice. Made with oxtail, tripe, tendon, and assorted vegetables in a peanut sauce. Once again you can see were all the “leftover” meat went, but no matter, you are “in it for the sauce” anyways. The dish also comes with a side of fermented shrimp paste. Churning a tiny smudge in, cuts the richness in half, and brings the dish more salt.

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The “Vegetable bicol express” is a dish of assorted vegetables in a spicy coconut milk broth. It is named “Bicol” after a region in Southern Philippines, that is known for their love of coconut in everything. The “assorted” vegetables are a mix of okra, eggplant, beans, and bitter melon. It’s colour and taste reminded me of Thai curry, seeing that it is often prepared with coconut milk. It had bold flavours and big spice, going best with a bowl warm steamed rice. Good but a little too similar to the kare above in taste and texture.

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For dessert we shared everyone’s favourite Filipino dessert: “Halo Halo”. It is a shaved ice desert made by mixing together assorted beans, jellies, sweetened banana, macapuno string (a mutation of coconut flesh making it creamier for a soft jelly-like texture. Like candy coconut), jackfruit (a tropical fruit), leche flan, and ube halaya (purple yam). It is topped with evaporated milk and pinipig (Kim a Filipino granola). This is one dessert borne from the merger of a few others and their toppings. The candied coconut was my favourite for its creamy texture and the jellies their chewy jiggle. The banana was the sweetest having been stewed in sugar. The one they used seemed more starchier as well, like a plantain. All together there is nothing like it. Nothing that would bring you this many textures and flavours all rolled into one easy to eat dessert soup. We churned it all together, to ensure we got a good mix in one go.

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We also shared the “Sansrival”, a Filipino dessert with Spanish influences. This is almond meringue with a buttercream icing. It is like if a cookie and a macaron had a baby and it came out covered in powdered sweetness. It was hard to cut through, like a slightly softer biscotti, but easy to chew with teeth like a dense cookie.

 

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.
Realistically, getting here required a long drive and a toll bridge fee, so I don’t see myself returning any time soon. However, if they decided to expand and open a location closer to me, I could see myself craving the food again, and looking to take out sweet breads. But that may also be because my food guide knew exactly what to order and I got to try what she thought was the best. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

KUMARE
100 – 8047 120 Street, Delta BC, V4C 6P7
778-591-2555
kumare.ca
Kumare Restaurant & Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

FlipTop Filipino Fusion Foodtruck

IMG_1426I don’t like going to food trucks, as it defeats the purpose of them being mobile. But I do love it when they come to me. So today when I saw a new one from the window of work, I had to cross the street. Not only was this truck new to me it was new to the area. And certainly not something you could miss or was to be missed. The “FlipTop” attracts attention with its red, yellow, and blue. The colours formed a graffiti stylized Philippines flag across the side. The menu and standee beside it echoed the theme, rising suns and shining stars. If the R&B music pumping doesn’t lure you in for a look, the friendly nature of the woman behind the counter will. She was leaned against the edge of the window, and ready to engage passerbyers. I approached their easy to read sign and was immediately greeted by her. She commented on my jewelry and easily made small talk. I had some questions, not being able to imagine what each menu option could be. She articulately drew me a picture with her words. It is promising when you see a food truck with a few “sold outs” on their menus at 3pm. It gives you some reassurance that you have chosen to grab lunch at a popular truck, one that is visited and revisited by many. In this case they were out of both their varieties of “Fili” cheesesteaks. The remaining menu was split between “snack bites” and “dinner bites”. I tried one from each and their dessert to go. 

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“Lumpia”. There were two to an order, and both looked and tasted like Chinese style spring rolls. Each was made with locally grown vegetables sautéed, then wrapped in rice roll skins, before being deep fried. The pair was served with a sweet chilli dipping sauce. I have nothing too bad or too good to say. They were delicious, but nothing really special. Each roll on its own lacked flavour, yet when dipped, the sauces overwhelmed their subtle flavour. You just wished for a happy happy medium of the two. 

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“Pa man pandesal sliders”. These too came two per order. Each slider came with AAA Canadian Angus beef in a citrus soy marinade, pickled red cabbage, string carrots, crispy leeks, and hoisin mayo on a Filipino bun. I was impressed they held in place from cart to office. The execution is good for disposable packaging. The dressing was amazing, with numerous flavour notes. Each bun was jammed packed with meat, and there was just as much beef as you would find in a regular sized McDonald’s burger; but in a better cut and of a better quality. The meat was burnt in a delicious way, its edges singed with charcoal and the centre still a little pink. This was just fun to eat with its great taste and unique textures. I was most impressed by the thinly sliced vegetables made into strings. They were deep fried to a wonderful crispy texture that was present in each bite. 

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“FlipTop’s BBQ pork skewers”. Charbroiled, local, all natural pork skewers in “FlipTop’s” signature BBQ marinade, roasted garlic aioli, grated radish, fresh cilantro and nori seaweed. This was definitely the best piece of pork I have had to date. It was an incredibly succulent piece. The meat was cooked just so and was still a little rare. It looked so amazing that I got the most excited over eating it. You can’t wait until it is in your mouth, and are sad when it goes. You rarely get so much dressing on anything, let alone for meat on a stick. This was a unique flavour combination that all partnered well with one another. A definite recommend, and a must have over and over again. 

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Dessert was “Turon Brûlée”. Two deep fried banana spring rolls drizzled with a warm caramel sauce. This is best eaten right away to keep the crisp of the roll’s skin before made soggy by caramel. Good thing we intuitively started our tasting there. They were delicious with hints of maple and walnut along side the banana. The slices of banana almost melted in your mouth and the caramel wasn’t overly sweet. This dessert had as many textures as it did flavours. 

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The great service continued long after I paid. The lady in the window was very communicative. She reassured me that my order was being made and then packed to go. Then again when it was coming, and finally when I was next. She did this for all her other customers as well. With her sunny disposition you didn’t think to be impatient. The action I appreciated the most was every “thank you” and “good bye” from the woman was repeated by the chef back. It didn’t matter that he was cooking, he took the time to appreciate each guest. This went on consistently for every customer. One such customer seemed to be a huge fan of “FlipTop”. He hung out just to be near it. He gushed over the food and promised to talk it up some more to everyone. The owners of “FlipTop” were touched and thanked him for his loyal following. 

Would I come back? – Yes. I hope they come back around South Granville again, so I can have another pork skewer and try their take on a cheesesteak. The service was fast and courteous, and just the perfect cherry on top. It makes a world of difference when you are made to feel welcome. 
Would I recommend it? – Yes. The food was amazing with unique spices and exciting flavour combinations. They are really good at dressing their dishes, and clearly they have a winning recipe. For those throwing a party, they cater as well. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

FLIPTOP
778-986-FLIP (3547)
Fliptop Filipino Fusion on Urbanspoon

Goldilocks Bakeshop

I decided to try Filipino cuisine, at a restaurant for the first time. I have had authentic Filipino dishes before, prepared by Filipino families, but I never knew what I was eating; so was now worried about having to order by myself, for myself. But my 50% off any restaurant food order entertainment book coupon persuaded me to try anyways. 

The front window displays an example of their cake baking abilities. A four tiered wedding cake with roses and smooth pipping; surrounded by smaller and just as creamy looking one and two layered cakes. The same window display also showcases their clothing and accessory line. A series of tee shirts and totes that ask if you have had popular Filipino food items. “Got Adobo?” The staff are walking advertisements for these. Each one of the Filipinos employed here boasted a “Goldilocks” tee shirt on their backs. There was a friendly group of ladies working the front, all different in ages. None look to be are related, but based on body language and speech, they were all family. 

The restaurant is half bakery and half fast food chain. On one side you have your cakes, breads, and pastries. Refrigerated showcases of delicate flowered cupcakes, pastel frosted cookies in pink and purple, and cakes blank and ready to be pipped on with a celebratory greetings. 


The restaurant side was labelled overhead with an “Asian Cuisine” sign. Under it is a heated glass counter. In it, pre prepared dishes. Premade meats with rice or fried noodles boxed up and ready to go. But if you choose to dine in the exact same dishes are available plated and warm, ready for eating. 

Not being able to make heads or tails out of the chalk board menu and not knowing how anything tasted I relied heavily on the young Filipino girl who serviced me from behind the counter. I took her suggestions and she took the time to give them.

My multi item order was assembled at the counter, then placed on a fast food tray. On the tray was an image of their logo with their “Goldilocks” mascot printed on. I took this to any table to eat in peace. Utensils were self serve by the cash desk, and a tank of water with glasses was available to the side, for those who wanted it to help themselves. If you can’t finish your meal ask for to go boxes to pack it all up. I actually thought it was cool that their styrofoam boxes came in black instead of the more commonly seen white varieties. 


“Pancit palabok”, rice noodles with shrimp flavoured garlic-annato sauce, topped with sautéed ground pork, tofu, chicharon, smoked fish flakes, sliced boiled egg, green onions, and fried garlic. I was not expecting much, seeing it pulled out as is, from behind the glass and just placed on a plastic branded tray. The flavours were muted and they offered no excitement in any of the bites. It was just noodles meant to fill you up. The only thing I did like was the presentation. Still hot they place the noodles into one of their take out containers to give it this structure, when cooled they up side down it on to a plate for serving. 

I upgraded my crispy pork and rice to a “Rice Medley”, after seeing it come up to the counter for another customer. This plate came with the same pork and rice, but with the addition of raw tomatoes, un ripened mangos, and a semi cooked egg. I was later informed to mix all the components together and have the egg coat the rice and cook down further, with the existing warmth of the other ingredients. The pork was tasty, and the mango had a nice added hard texture, with its own distinct taste. But over all this was another bland pre made, nothing special dish. It needed a lot of salt and pepper to rejuvenate it. In their defensive the girl offered me hot sauce, and I only took a dollop of it, when I apparently needed a cup. I ended up eating only the pork and mango, and discarding over 3/4 of the dish. Luckily the prices were inexpensive and I didn’t have to struggle with too great of a buyer’s remorse. 


“Halo halo”, is the Filipino version of a sweet iced bean drink that is available in many south East Asian countries. It is a refreshing dessert drink, that is as filling as it is thirst quenching. The sweet milky texture comes from crushed ice, coconut milk, and condensed milk. The chunks are yellow and purple yams, red jelly, red and yellow beans, shredded coconut meat, chick peas, and what I think is chestnuts. It is a meal in a plastic to go cup, sipped through a thick bubble tea straw. This is an acquired taste with the coconut milk and smorgasbord of lentils and dried nuts and fruits. After all the liquid is gone I usually sieve through the elements I want to eat, then discard the rest. 


I remember loving “polvoron” when I first had it years ago. So now I wanted to once again have this Filipino version of a shortbread cookie for dessert. They came in four different flavours, wrapped up by color, inside a showcase. Where as I only wanted one of each, the deal was to buy six and save on the tax, so I went ahead and got her to add another two, the most popular two flavours. The “polvoron” were made in Canada, exclusively for “Goldilocks”. Each one started with flour, milk, sugar, shortening, and vanilla extract. Then depending on the wanted flavoring, selected ingredients were added to the mix. They are known for their melt in your mouth, crumbly texture. The yellow “polvoron” was original. The red ones were “pinipig” flavoured, made with crisped rice. You really got a great texture each bite in. Both the yellow and red were the most popular ones. Red was personally my favourite. The “Ube Polvoron” was wrapped in clear cellophane to highlight its purple colour from the taro yams used in its production. I really didn’t get that flavour, but appreciated the fun colour, while I allowed a bite to melt on my tongue. The blue cellophane ones identified the cookies and cream flavour. A North American taste twisted into a Filipino classic. As with the ube, I got no distinctive taste from this one. 

Seeing a half loaf of “Rainbow bread” sitting on a rack, I had to take it to go. It is just regular white bread tied dyed in some groovy colours. I bought it for the look and the added interest it would bring to my food pictures. It tasted like white bread, at half the loaf, and not quite half the price. 


My entire interaction was lengthy and complicated. Between me changing my order, the girl not knowing how to ring through my entertainment book coupon, the woman who helped her to do so doing it incorrectly, and the another girl just coming to take my money, it was a long process. As a result with all the goings on my first quoted price was $58. It was later amended after much consultation. In the end my total barely broke $25. 

Would I come back? – No. I am not a fan of Filipino cuisine, it shares a very similar spice pallet with other Asian cuisines that I prefer and can get else where. The food was made ahead of time and kept in a heated counter, and it showed. Had the food been made to order, my answer would have been different. But from what I understand, the cooking process of Filipino food is lengthy. In order to have their food fast, this is the only way they could accommodate their customers. 

Would I recommend it? – If you are Filipino this is the place for you, though I am sure they all already know this. Authentic Filipino dishes made like how they would be done in the Philippines, prepared and served to you by Filipinos who speak the language and know the culture. In fact I was the only non Filipino guest during my Friday lunch time visit. 
But for the non Filipinos, not familiar with the cuisine, this is a good place to start. Like me if you don’t know what to get, you can ask and be given great suggestions by staff knowledgable, with first hand information. Everything I had came to under $25, so if you get something and don’t like it, it wouldn’t put too big of a strain on your wallet. You can’t say you don’t like it if you don’t try it. 


GOLDILOCKS 
goldilocks.ca



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JJ’s Trucketeria

Filipino Meal on Wheels ~

I am a sucker for random food trucks, that stop around my work place. They are essentially new restaurants on the go, that deliver lunch to me. So far I have found that each are worth trying. They have the accessibility and speed of fast food stops, with the great ingredients and taste of a sit down cafe. Their menu is smaller to accommodate the lack of storage and kitchen space that comes with being on wheels; but from my experience everything they offer is of their best.

Stumbled upon “JJ’s” food truck as they were adding change to the meter where they were docked. They usually frequent Fraser, but today they were on South Granville. Most carts don’t invest in a license, and instead take their show on the road. They drive to where the hungry masses are gathered. “JJ’s” is not as decorated as many of its food truck brethren, but is as bright as the sun and comes with a good green message. They only use compostable or biodegradable containers, cups, and cutlery. And is all about made from scratch cooking. Everything is hand made including all their sauces, marinades, and juices; these go over their fresh meat and rice dishes. Not having things preserved or frozen really makes all the difference. You see it in the dish, smell it in the food, and taste it in the flavour.

I unfortunately caught the truck right as they were writing sold out over all my first choice. So I went for the second best and was not disappointed in the least. The price point is decent. I have paid $7 for a hot dog and at “JJ’s” it got me their “garlic fried rice big plate with Mumbai chicken”. It also came in “Filipino BBQ Pork” and “Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Chicken”. But they were sold out of the lemon grass chicken. The spicy Mumbai chicken was complimented by the creamy coleslaw. You took a bite of the flavorful Indian spices and used the coleslaw to cut into the heat. Being southeast Asian I am very familiar with fried eggs in sandwiches and on top of rice, this is also a very UK thing. The burst egg yolk over rice is a surprisingly good combo, for those who have never tried it. It acts like a gravy over the light and crispy fried rice. This was a really well thought out dish, with sides that made them unique to “JJ’S”. I always say restaurants and in this case food trucks need to give us a reason to eat with them. There is so much out there to try and if they want my business they have to work for it. Entice me.






“JJ’S signature panwiches”, came in the same meat options as their big plates, but at $5. As with the rice, the lemon grass chicken was sold out. So here I got the Filipino BBQ pork meat in between the toasted buns. Amazingly tender cuts of beef. I was surprised it was this good for the price, and it being cooked on the spot. It had a sweet flavor, and I would love a bowl of just the meat. It was hard to pick up the bun, without everything falling out. It was overly stuffed, and that is always a good thing. I discarded the empty bun, soggy with sauce.

They also had an dish called the
“Market bowl.” It is an endless hodge podge of great in season vegetables harvested at local produce stands and farmers markets. “JJ’s” hopes in this way they are able to show that healthy can be tasty too. This too was sold out. 


Would I go back? – If it was the right place at the right time. I was hungry and the truck was near by? – Yes, I would absolutely order again. There is great value for the great food. Fast food made delicious.
Would I recommend it? – There are so many food trucks rolling around Vancouver. I would suggest trying a little for each. Food trucks bring the unique to you, so why not take advantage of it?
Don’t deny your cravings and try some meal on wheels when you need food within a time limit. Avoid restaurant wait lists. 



JJ’s Trucketeria
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