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Category: foodtruck Page 1 of 3

Judging Vancouver Foodster’s Fried Chicken Challenge

The Vancouver Foodster is inviting Vancouverites to warm up this fall with some some fried chicken. His annual competition is back for another year, and three competitors have their eyes on the title of “best fried chicken” in the city. And this year, I have the honour of being one of the judges. Meaning, I got to visit each participating restaurant, to try their chicken; and judge each based on taste, originality, and presentation.

So my guest and I endeavoured on a chicken marathon, with the goal to try all three in one day. We wanted to be able to compare and contrast, each creation. But only learned how different each restaurant and their seasoned chicken was. This one is definitely subjective. Your chicken of choice is absolutely based on preference. Each a recipe and flavour all its own, chicken that your would gravitate towards for different reasons and occasions.

First stop was Steveston’s “Win Win Chicken”. They were serving up their classic fried chicken as a two piece combo with your choice of two sides. We had one leg and one thigh, with their Filipino sweet style macaroni and homemade gravy. The judging doesn’t include the sides, but they offered a great balance and way to round out your chicken meal.

We caught them at a good time, and our order of chicken came fresh out of the fryer. From the first bite you can tell that they are using quality chicken here. Served hot throughout with a crunchy skin, and juicy dark meat under it. It had a great consistent season to it, the meat just as flavourful as the chicken skin and batter. And we were impressed by how little grease there was to this, the drippings at the bottom of each box was jus, not soon-to-congeal fat. They were cooking with high heat and good oil, and you tasted it.

WIN WIN CHICK-N
12160 First Avenue, Richmond BC
778-297-5818
winwinchick-n.com

Next we hit up the 24 hour fast food chicken joint, “Hi Five”. This was my first time visiting the chain. They currently have two locations, one in Burnaby, and their Marine Drive one; which we were visiting today. They too were serving two pieces of fried chicken with two sides. One giant drum and thigh with a side of potato wedges and coleslaw. Everything is made in house.

The chicken was very crunchy, with a thick breading. You got an audible sound when you sunk your teeth in. Their spicy version didn’t look spicy, you only knew that it was when the creeping heat built up. Overall, the meat was incredibly juicy, and we found ourselves comparing it to and liking it more than “Churches”.

HI FIVE
203 SE Marine Drive, Vancouver BC
604-327-4898
hifive24.com

And we ended our night at “J&G” on Robson Street, for some Taiwanese style fried chicken. Their combo came with three pieces of chicken: 2 drums and 1 thigh, served with sweetened hand cut yam fries and deep fried mini buns with condense milk as dip.

This was fresh chicken marinated in five spice, sesame oil, garlic, and soy sauce. Then dipped in their special formulated wet batter to give the chicken a thin and crispy coating. Each piece is guaranteed made to order so that it is served up piping hot and juicy. For added flavour you can get it spicy in varying degrees with their chilli power. This had a very unique flavour to it, one I haven’t had until here and now. Deep with a layered umami flavour.

J&G Fried Chicken
1706 Robson St, Vancouver BC
604-423-2870
jgfcwest.ca

I won’t be actually ranking our scoring the fried chicken competitors here, as the judging and the event continues until November 30th. And for those who want to try their hand at judging, you too can try each offering, and then vote for the people’s choice favourite. But be warned, it won’t be easy choosing just one to come out on top.

For more details on this fun way to try new and different fried chicken spots, visit Vancouver Foodster’s website with the link below.

Vancouver Fried Chicken Challenge

YVR Food Fest 2017

This year the “YVR Food Fest” has returned for a second run. Originally known as the “Food Cart Fest”, this summer food fuelled event has rebranded and stretched out its presence. This year it ran from June 27th to July 3rd 2017. This week long event included a handful of dinner series, a series of food related talks, and the assembly of trucks and vendors in a dusty lot. The latter we found the most enjoyable.

To skip the reading and watch my five minute recap of the weekend’s worth of events visit my YouTube channel: MaggiMei

All events were ticketed, including an admission fee to enter the gathering of food trucks and restaurants as offsite vendors. I only attended the outdoor food festival part. Three days worth of waking up early and walking to the Olympic Village. Saturday, Sunday, and Monday; all three days had similar concepts, but their own theme. And with their theme came the promise of shows and exhibitions that matched. Although I seemed to have missed them all by coming early, eating my fill, and leaving shortly after. For example I didn’t see any grills out smoking for the “cook out” on Canada Day. And confused the use of the word “showdown” for Sunday’s “street food showdown” to mean a competition to see who was the best vendor onsite. Whereas it actually referred to your ability to try that which was voted the top and favourite in their category. But there was a bit of competition during Monday’s “big brunch” event, where you were asked to vote for your favourite breakfast inspired dish. But two hours into the latter and there was no sign and sight of the advertised Caesar competition, breakfast sandwich cook off, or cold-brew kegger. Just as well, with the heat and limited shade it was better to eat your fill and seek shelter.

For the “Canada Day Cook Off” we arrived early and were caught up in the confusion of poor organization. It was the first day and they still had to work out the kinks (they were notably better the second and third day to come). Staff in yellow event branded tees were quickly orientated and thrown into their roles, but you could see that they and the for-hire security team were still confused over things to come. Seeing as the event serves alcohol, they enlisted security personnel to check IDs and stamp hands as proof of legal drinking age before you entered.

We arrived at 11:45pm and had to wait until 12:15pm to be let in. Even though the event was advertised as starting at 12pm, so without addressing the gathering crowd that began blocking bike lanes and pedestrian walk ways, there was an assembly of people checking their watches every 30 seconds (myself included). And when one of the gates finally opened and people were allowed into queue for ticket check-ins, there was chaos. One group of people from one gate were allowed in, while the rest of us who got here earlier and formed our own line were forced to wait and watch them flood by. When both gates were finally opened there was no organization. People pushed their way through to the check-in, only to be told that they would have to get their IDs checked by security to be allowed to drink. This was the case for us. So as I returned back to check in, after getting my ID okayed, I was again sent back to get the stamp that the security personnel failed to grant me the first time around. By then a line had grown in front of him, and I found myself interrupting and budging. (But I wasn’t lining up twice). We eventually got int alright.

For those who bought “taster tickets” their entry came with a miniature takeout box of two drink tickets and 8 yellow chips. Each yellow token was equivalent to $2.50 and every blue chip: $5. The exchange rate was on par. You redeem them in for food and drink from any vendor. One token at $2.50 didn’t give you much, as vendors only prepared taster portions for $2.50. Therefore, if you were planning on sharing, it was easier to simply get a full item to share, than to split a bite sized sample. Although some were better than others in this regards, and I found that $2.50 on Day 2 went further than anything available on Day 1 or 3. Notes on that to come.

Given the extended wait in uncovered sun, we immediately exchanged our drink tickets for chilled cans. Beer and a cocktail mix to help cool us down. We then walked through the market looking for what peaked our interest the most, stopping to partake in cheese, jerky, and soda water samples along the way. There weren’t as many vendors as I thought there would be. Six tables or so lined up to the right and the same amount of food trucks to the left. The list of who showed up changed from day to day.

Given our desire to keep it cheap and share $20 worth of tokens between three grown adults and one infant we decided against the sample sizes today, and instead got full servings for easier sharing: 3 and a half ways. The most alluring vendor was the “Come Arepa” truck, offering Venezuelan street food, of which I am unfamiliar with. Arepas are white corn bread pockets, that I easily likened to pitas but pillowy-er with more chew. It was crunchy on the outside and soft and steamy on the inside, flavoured depending on its filling. They are split open and stuffed with a bevy of different meat and vegetables. Each combination of ingredients with its own unrelated name. We shared the “fancy” with chunk chicken, white cheese; and what they called an “avocado salad”, which was more like mashed up avocado/guacamole with little to no seasoning. It was one overflowing creamy bite after another. Tasty, but it was the help yourself squeeze bottle of sauces that made them memorable. The “hairy” was shredded beef with cheddar cheese. This one had a more familiar taste and a lot more punch to its seasonings. But once again, it was the green salsa on the side that elevated the flavour with some freshness and tang.

Some dishes are petite enough to eat and walk with, but with plenty of picnic tables available you need not stand and eat. But instead pick up a few items, bring it to a table, eat, leave, and repeat. A few wooden picnic tables and benches had umbrellas shielding you from the sun. But for those who preferred dining in the shade, event runners had set up a tented area for you to do just that. Though here it meant eating over barrels for tables and sitting on bales of hay for seats. Not the most comfortable or aesthetically relevant.

Having finished our $20 meal we then retreated back out into the park. Only for me to return tomorrow for what I felt was the best day out of the three.

On Sunday for the “Streetfood showdown” there were double the number of food trucks participating, meaning there were more options and shorter waits in lines. And each truck came prepared with decent sample sizes menu items, each well worth $2.50 for a more rounded out taste. On this day we were able to dedicate one token to each stop we made, even repeating the ones we liked enough, coming back for seconds.

Yet again we started off quenching our thirst with some cold beverages. This time they also had large jugs of mixed fruit drinks. We would use both our drink tickets on two cups of their strawberry lemonade.

As for food, I allowed my partner, with his specific tastes, to choose what he liked and what we would share each. He kept in his comfort zone with items found on a bar menu and plenty of Mexican. Everything below, cost us just the one yellow token.

We had a pulled pork tacos from the “Victoria’s” table. They served their tacos opened face with meat over flour tortilla. You help yourself to toppings like tomatillo salsa and cilantro. They were tasty enough to have us returning for a chicken one with onions.

We had more pulled pork in our slider from the “Flying Pig” booth. They attracted additional attention by way of the full pig that they brought out to the event. The slider buns were fresh, sandwiching tender and well seasoned meat.

I got the most value from the “Brazilian Roots” truck. This is a new food truck that made their debut during this event. They offer dough products made out of cassava. “Cassava” is a starchy tuberous root of a tropical tree. Here they specialize in using it to make wraps, which they fill with various ingredients. They are simply folded in half, looking like a quesadilla, and eaten like a taco, with mouth cocked sideways. This is the “Macuxi” with sesame crust, Black Forest ham, cheese, and butter. You get a lot for $2.50. Three slices of ham and two slices of cheese that fully cover the entire surface of the crispy, crunchy cassava wrap. I liked it better without the ham to distract with its saltiness. The cheese was plenty with its gooey texture.

The “Jalapeño maple bacon” was my partner’s favourite of the market. It was available from the “Papi’s Mexican Grill”. $2.50 is a little steep for a strip of bacon, but is sure was delicious. Thicker cuts with candied edges for a crispy chew and a sweet finish.

From the same stall we had a half a cob of steamed corn dressed in Mexican cheese and spices. What looked like salty feta was a creamy cheese with a crumbly texture and a lumpy surface. It was super tasty and I would have had more, if not for the fear of having corn kernels stuck in between my teeth for the rest of the day, with no dental floss in sight.

My partner liked the chicken souvlaki, “meat on a stick” from the “Carte Diem” truck. He liked the gentle seasonings and how moist the chicken was. A really strong selling point for him, as he finds most chicken souvlaki from other Greek restaurants over cooked and their chicken dry. I actually found this dry and the pepper in the rub the only standout flavour.

The “Serendipity” ice cream truck had hand dipped vanilla cones. But not just the commonly seen milk chocolate, but your choice of dips in maple, orange, mint, banana, or even white chocolate. And on top of that you get your choice of toppings to be sprinkled over. Oreo, peanuts, kit Kat, pretzels, Reese’s pieces, vanilla wafer, potato chips, m&m’s, and pistachio. If it were me I would have gone with the two oddest sounding pairings like banana and chips, and would have probably found it amazing. My more traditional partner was more than content with the classic milk chocolate and rainbow sprinkles pairs, so that is what we had. It melted quick, and not just from the sun, but for ice cream in general. The chocolate shell held everything in place until you pierce it. And from there rivers of melted vanilla dripped down its side and in between your grasped fingers. It sure was tasty, I just wish we could have finished it before we were forced to give up on trying to.

I had a mini sampler sized ice cream taco from the “Say Hello” vegan ice cream truck. It doesn’t look like much, but it’s a fair bit of ice cream and crisp wafer. Really creamy with a nice richness to it, something I don’t often get from ice cream without milk. But I was most surprised at was their ability to find such a tiny ice cream scooper to round out these perfect mini scoops of ice cream.

Day three was all about brunch. “The Big Brunch” had relevant restaurants and trucks coming up with some creative interpretations on breakfast favourites.

The “Bread & Cheese” truck had a long line from the start. We figured it must be good so ordered one of everything that they were offering. The “Bacon breakfast English muffin” also had white cheddar, arugula, garlic mayo, and a tangy red sauce. I don’t know that I tasted the latter, but it was great nonetheless. Everything I wished an egg mcmuffin was, was here, in this.

Similarly was how great the hash browns were. Crispy on the outside with the perfect golden brown hue. And their spicy ketchup gave you a great punchy end note.

The “French toasties” was a slice of bread cut in half and prepared cinnamon French toast style. Topped with macerated strawberries, maple syrup, whipped cream, and bacon bits. It was tasty, but the bread was fairly soggy, where I was looking for crispy ends to go with my salty and sweet.

From “Victoria’s” one of the Mexican restaurants, we had their “Chorizo Benny” and “Pancake. The benny was a perfectly poached egg over a sausage and potato mix, with caramelized onion and their own house made hollandaise sauce. It had one of the most golden orange coloured yolk’s I have ever seen. It was rich and creamy, adding a different element to the chunks of chewy potatoes and mildly spicy sausage. This was a well balanced start to the day.

Their pancake was one that successfully combined the salty and briney nature of olives with the sweetness of chocolate chips and a luscious dulce de leche. And for some freshness they included a few slices of banana on top. This was a great serving size to keep you coming back for more.

And lastly we completed our walking meal with a healthy pile of their “breakfast nachos”. Take everything that would go into a breakfast burrito, and instead scramble it then top it over Mexican style tortilla chips. I just needed more salsa and sauce on the side, to dip the undressed chips at the bottom with.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
A great idea, I just wanted more advertisement, organization and follow through from them. But that is what their third year is for in 2018: to get better and bring on more food trucks and restaurant vendor. So mark it on your calendar and look forward to it next year! Don’t deny your cravings.

 

YVR FOOD FEST
215 West 1st Avenue, Vancouver BC

Curry Express

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I ventured for a meal at the Metrotown food court on the wrong day. It was busy, it was crowded, and line ups were unavoidable. So I saved my time and walked right up to the only stall without a wait: “Curry Express”. They are also the only Indian cuisine offering in all of the mall.

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They advertised themselves as being “fine Indian cuisine”, I would argue that detail. Especially as everything was premade, kept warm under heat lamps, and waiting to be dispensed from metal troughs.

I don’t have much experience when it comes to Indian cuisine. And given the noise and energy of the food court, it didn’t seem like the time or place to better educate myself. So, I therefore stuck with what I knew and ordered some butter chicken with two servings of naan.

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But sadly, just watching her scoop my order into the styrofoam bowl, I knew I would be disappointed. The portion was a small, and the container would not be filled to the brim. There was plenty of room for another scoop of sauce, which what I really wanted, and what was needed to dip my bread product into. At least the serving was tasty enough, to have me sopping up every last bit; with the naan providing a nice chewy base. The large cubes of chicken were surprisingly tender. But overall the dish wasn’t as creamy as I would have imagined it, or have had it in the past. Especially considering it is primary made out of butter. I have had versions a lot more luscious, and that was what I was missing from this.

Seeing the smaller portion of food I was about to get, I added on another serving from behind the sneeze proof glass. It looked good, and after confirming it was just potato and cauliflower I got it to go too. This portion would also not be filled to the top, and even more so. I really wasn’t feeling like I was getting my money’s worth, especially when I was given the total later.

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As for the dish, everything in it was grainy in texture; from the soften potatoes to the chopped up cauliflower florets. The seasoning of it was a lot spicier than with the butter chicken. It was also better over rice, than with my order of naan. Filling with starches, but not all that memorable.

Walking away I felt I had over paid, something that doesn’t happen often, as I value food, and am willing to pay unreasonable sums for quality and rarity. My bill came to $12.60. Apparently each small serving was $6.30 according to the cashier, when I asked. I am assuming this is after taxes. I could have gotten so much more from any of the other neighbouring stalls. Or the employees could have offered me the ability to take advantage of their combo for $9.75. Especially when they are trying to rush you through the order and check out process, not giving you much time to read the menu above the counter. The combo was two curries, naan, rice, and a drink. Something that I discovered myself after paying and staying back. I went through the menu as I just couldn’t believe I was asked to pay this much for so little food.

 

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.
It was tasty and something I wouldn’t mind having again, but I don’t think $6 a cup is something I could muster. This is given my experience with Indian restaurants serving food just as good, if not better, for less per portion size. But when at Metrotown, in the food court, and craving Indian; they are your only option, so buyer beware. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

CURRY EXPRESS
Metrotown Food Court
4820 Kingsway, Burnaby BC, V5H 4P1
604-454-1004
curry-express.ca
Curry Express Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Triple O’s on the go catering

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Another year, and I was back at the VPD’s family day with my mother. I enjoy the behind the scenes tour of my mother’s place of employment and the ability to see her interact with her coworkers like a friend. It is a softer side to my mother that I never really got to see growing up. Plus she always starts the conversation of whether I want to go or not by listing which food truck would be serving lunch that day.

This year it was the “White Spot” catering truck that was stopped in the parking lot of the Vancouver Police Department. As the food was prepaid for by event organizers, options were limited and the processes were designed with the need for speed in mind.

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The truck was long, it was painted forest green with the “White Spot” colour and logo prominent on both sides. If you don’t know anything about the “White Spot” franchise, they do causal North American classics, burger and fries, sandwiches and pasta. This particular truck was doling out their famous burger, by driving and bringing it right to you and your event. Though you can’t just follow the photo of their most popular burger on the back of these “Triple O’s” truck, you have to actually hire them specifically for an event.

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Today their classic “Triple O” burger was your only choice, with or without cheese, and available with a vegetarian patty for those who special request it. The wait in line and the need to custom build your own burger was worth it. The burger patties were grilled to order, in our case, topped with cheese, and sandwiches between a white bread hamburger bun. You order from one end and pick up at the other. Adjacent they had a topping station, tables set up with tubs of lettuce, tomato, and pickles. And pumps and packets of vinegar, ketchup, and mustard for dressing.

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I was most impressed by the fact that the beef patty was actually large enough for the whole bun, an edge to edge burger patty. There was an even beef to bun bite ratio, whereas with other buns you get more bread and the first few bites are without meat. The patty was juicy and the meat cooked perfectly. But it was their “special O” sauce that really made this burger one of a kind. It is like a cross between creamy thousand island and tangy ranch dressing. I could have used a side of this just for dipping into, in fact it would have been great with the fries that were included. Though they should just bottle and sell it, I would have it with all my homemade burgers.

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Each burger was a combo with your choice of a soft drink and a cup of starchy fries. They weren’t the crispy kind of fries that are more common. They were more like soften and chewy potato wedges, but shaped like sticks. Good if it’s what you are craving of, but sad if you were expecting crispy thin fries. All in all one of the better burgers, all that I was missing was one of their classic ice cream shakes to perfect the combo.

 

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.
I would definitely crave more of their burgers, but unfortunately can’t get any more from this truck. However with many “White Spot” and “Triple O’s” locations around, I can easy go there. As for those hosting an event, I definitely recommend their service, as an option that has potential to please most of your guests. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

TRIPLE O TO GO
604-321-6631
m.tripleos.com

Cloud Nine Cotton Candy Co.

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This little buggy is home to some of the sweetest treats. Blue and white, as cute as what they offered: on the spot spun cotton candy and freshly ground shaved ice.

Today it was parked at the newly opened McAurthor Glen outlet in Richmond, but it is known to do some roaming, which includes stopping at weddings. As Vancouver’s first organic cotton candy event food truck they are popular option for many events. From birthdays to weddings, from graduations to corporate functions, and all things in between. They are proudly based in Vancouver, BC and can be found at many festivals, farmer’s markets and special events throughout British Columbia. So there is no real way to pin them down, so if and when you see them, you best take advantage.

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Surprisingly a few bodies are able to squeeze in to their trailer at once. One to serve guests and another to operate the machinery. The front door of the caravan swung open to reveal their chalkboard menu. Pastel colours listed their flavours.

Their cotton candy is gourmet, all-natural and organic. And they have over 25 different flavours of it. Today a $4 bag of cotton candy came in either bubblegum, strawberry, lime, or blue raspberry. Sadly they don’t do split or sample bags so you can try all the flavours. Committing to one is hard and buying one of each to try them all is a heck of a lot of sugar.

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The shaved ice went for $6 a cup, with flavours like root beer, mango, cherry lime, strawberry, peach, blue raspberry, lime, and lavender. Their special machine literally shaves ice into fluffs of lightly powdered snow. To this mound of snow they then add organic and all natural syrups, before topping it all off with their own organic condensed milk and real homemade whipped cream. I ordered one as an easy way to cool down. I went for the lavender shaved ice topped with condensed milk and whip cream. You don’t get offered that flavour often, and I didn’t regret my decision. It tasted as beautiful as it looked and sounded. Many heads turned as I gleefully strolled around with my towering treat. The flavour was floral, but not to over whelming. Light and sweet without being overbearing. The cream and milk gave it just a bit of texture.

And if that isn’t enough sugar, they also had mini donuts, new for the 2015 season. Their doughnuts are baked, not deep fried; so no greasy or oily mess to contender with. And in their true form they also offered unique flavours with this one. Apple cider sugar and salted caramel are available with the classic cinnamon sugar mini doughnuts.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Are you looking for a fun and an easy way to cool down and satisfy that sweet tooth at any occasion? This dessert cart is your ticket. Why do things “normally”, when you can add your own twist to it. Take childhood classics and redefine them for any decerning adult to enjoy. I sadly passed on trying the cotton candy and doughnuts today and have been regretting that decision ever since. I have yet to see them again and to try what I missed out on. So don’t be like me, grab them when you can. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

CLOUD NINE
778-885-7905
cloudninecottoncandy.ca
Click to add a blog post for Cloud Nine Cotton Candy Co. on Zomato

Loving Hut Express Foodtruck

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A vegan food truck review as written by a meat loving omnivore.

I only know one vegan, so when we were hanging out for the day I decided to follow in her foodie footsteps and be vegan for a day. I was going in to uncharted territory. A scary place that was void of cheese, and one that would deny me most candies. How would my taste buds cope with the lack of flavour, I feared. Judging without even trying, shame on me. But I have had a vegan dish or two that I have hated. Disliked for its its lack of smooth textures and grimaced at for its flat raw flavour. Let’s say I have had more bad vegan meals than good. I wanted more bells and maybe even some whistles, and I certainly got it here.

This is the only vegan express food truck on the streets of Vanvouver. They park in Yaletown, a constant fixture by the Roundhouse community centre. Fun fact, you can board an actual locomotive train, by donation in the community centre. There was a line to order and to be served, I explored.

The golden-yellow hue of the food truck was eye catching, that and it was the only thing parked on the sidewalk.

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I feel being vegan is like being in an exclusive club. They have their own food and drinks, their own shops and stores. The community is tight, my vegan guest even knew the cart operator, the man behind our meals today. On the food truck, they list some of their their more famous members, and encourage you to join the ranks of vegan, with a free membership. They even listed reasons why you’d want to join. Albert Einstein, Ellen Degeneres, and Maggie Q did. And if you did, you too can get plenty of protein from seeds, nuts, and grains. And changing your diet to vegan is not only compassionate, but it is also economic and healthy. All good points, but I think I will be sticking to my “eat all the things” foodie diet.

It was hot, the sun was out, but we weren’t the only ones braving the need to squint for some of their all plant based burgers. A steady line was growing and only one employee behind the counter was working hard to shorten it. With all things considering, he did a good job, especially having to making our three burgers all at once. He takes a order and finishes it before accepting another customer. It guarantees that if you have to walk away, you can, without the need to ask for a refund. Though no one budged, you could even hear the crowd mention to one another how good they heard the food was. Definitely worth waiting for.

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The menu is a photographic listing of five different burgers and sides. Each had a beef or chicken patty and depicted cheese running down its sides. If you didn’t read the fine print, you couldn’t tell that there was no actual meat pictured. Heck they even had vegan bacon, a burger made with teriyaki sauce and grilled pineapple; and one topped with onion rings. These were your “regular”, not fast food, but sit down and eat pub burgers.

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My vegan guest suggested I try their “Crispy Chick’n Burger”, their most popular item and their best seller. The ingredients were listed as a “crispy gardein patty, chipotle mayo, guacamole, jalapeño relish, tomato, red onion, and lettuce”. The faux chicken patty delivered on its promise of being “crispy”, the breaded “Chick’n” even flaked off like a meat. As far as I was concerned this was a chicken burger, and one of the best I have had. Juicy and flavourful to the last bite.

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The “Bacon cheese burger” looked spot on with its “Beef-less party, crispy fake bacon, cheese sauce, mayo, tomato, red onion, and lettuce”. The fake bacon had that ham quality in both texture and taste. Crispy on the sides and salty all the way around. The zesty mustard complimented the bacon, and together they helped back each bite as fulsome one. Another “I can’t believe it’s not meat” moment. It looked and tasted like a “regular” cheese burger.

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The “Grilled mushroom cheese burger” is more what you expect from a traditional vegetarian burger. The beef-less patty had a nice charred grilled taste to it, it matched the earthy mushrooms, that were tender and done well. The mushrooms were clearly the focus of this burger, they out weighed the patty in quality and quantity, as the most dominate note. The cheese sauce, mayo, mustard, tomato, red onion, and lettuce finished things off.

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A side order of cheese fries was $1 off, with the purchase of any burger. And what is a burger without fries? The cheese sauce was more a cheesy gravy. It was thick and delicious, like the type you get out of a pump at any concession stand for nachos. Shame it was wasted coating frozen fries. Fresh cut and fried potato would have made a world of difference. There was also not enough cheese, the fries left at the bottom of the cardboard dish remain undressed.

As this was food from a truck, we ate on the steps of a nearby park. The only hazard, the wind blowing away our paper towels.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
This is the only vegan food truck in Vancouver, it is definitely worth making the effort down for. Vegan or not the food is delicious. As a omnivore, it was like eating “real”, “regular” burgers. I would definitely go back for more, heck if this was in my neighbourhood I could and would eat guilt free burgers every day. Shame they aren’t actually mobile, but more a tethered to and fro sort of truck. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

LOVING HUT
Pacific Blvd & Davie Street, Vancouver BC
604-780-1029
lovinghutvancouver.ca
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Viking Swedish Pancakes

IMG_4712IMG_4713 As always, when a food truck pulls up to my vicinity, I am obliged to visit it. This one I caught, just as the lone owner and operator was packing up for the day. I saw her out on the corner earlier, offering samples. On a silver tray she held out pieces of cut up pancakes for passerbyers to try. Many, like me continued to walk pass her, but I was impressed enough to come back. She was working for her sales. Parked around the corner of 10th and South Granville her bold blue truck was not very visible. So here she was directing pedestrians to it and pointing it out to would be patrons.

A medium blue truck with taxi yellow,  detailing. The choice in colour made sense given the trick’s ethnic background and name: “Viking Sweedish Pancakes”. Their logo a stack of fluffy pancakes crowned by a viking’s helmet. A round cap with bull-like horns on either side and smaller spikes down the middle. In contrast to imagery that “Viking” brings to mind, was their actual pancakes. Next to the logo, in full colour was a plate of Sweedish pancakes fit for dessert. Tubes of rolled up pancakes topped with a fluffy cloud of whipped cream, perfectly cut slices of bananas, and some of the reddest raspberries I have ever seen. Photographed with a tall glass of milk, this was one of those cases where a picture is worth a thousand words.

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The menu was a neon yellow poster board, tied up to the lamp post, by where the truck was stopped. On it five distinct ways to dress up your traditional Swedish pancakes. Sockeye salmon, creamed mushrooms, olives and feta, ham and mustard, and jam with cream for dessert. There were no photos on the menu to better guide your choice, and the neon green print on the neon yellow sign made it hard to read without coming up really close. However by the window to order, on the actual truck, there were two more examples of their pancakes. One was savoury with cold cuts, the other an accompaniment to various berries and small round fruits. You place your order at the window, the prices listed already include tax. After the chef/owner begins to cook. She was a kind lady with the eyes to match. She spoke sweetly and seemed genuinely happy to have me stop her mid clean up. Still dawning her orange chef smock she was ready to serve me and the young man who came after me.

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Where other trucks have their kitchen hidden in the rear, she prepared each pancake on one of her two hot plates, right by the window. Seeing each of my pancakes come to fruition, right before my eyes was a treat. Sheet after sheet, liquid to solid they cooked up fast. She flopped each completed circle out on a nearby cutting board to cool. I appreciated that the blue of the board matched the blue of the truck. I was surprised to stare at the drink trays before me. Given the photos on the truck I imagined something completely different. Something served on a plate. This was more practical and I loved it. The drink trays used in each order was a well conceived idea. Each dip in recycled cardboard allowed for a condiment container to perfectly rest, or offered a place to slot utensils in to. The pancakes were indeed rolled up before they were slotted into the tray. I didn’t really use the fork included, I simply dipped and ate. This set up made the meal very portable.

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These Swedish pancakes were very similar to French style crepes. Both are unleavened, and as a result the pancakes produced were light and thin. Where French style pancakes are often folded into quarters and each layer is filled, these sheets were rolled up and served with condiments for dipping them into. As far as I could tell both tasted the same. Eggy and light, with a hint of butter. I found the Swedish pancakes no different in taste and texture than their French cousins. Even the filling used was similar, both were the perfect vessels for savory or sweet. And you are only limited by your imagination.

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Black Forest ham with pickled cucumber and honey mustard for my savoury start. Salty ham and spicy mustard pairs well with the sweet and sour tang of the pickled cucumber. And as I have already established anything goes well with these pancakes.

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The name “Traditional Swedish pancakes” implies that they are usually served along side jam and whipped cream. Today I had a choice between cloudberry or lingonberry. Having been to IKEA I knew what lingonberry was and how the red berry tasted. So was now curious how cloud berry looked and tasted. The owner was nice enough to let me try a sample. It reminded me of passion fruit and orange with its sweet yet tart taste. With a jelly-like texture kept in little chunks it was good, but I could have done without the hard edible pits I the centre of each round. But it was the whipped cream that I liked the most. Fresh whipped cream made all the difference here, especially as I don’t normally like whipped cream. An order comes with two full pancakes all rolled up. And the price is definitely worth it. $8 for the basic order, $3 each pancake and $2 for the condiments.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I found these much better than any crepe I have had at any restaurant, and the ingredients here were just as fresh. And the best part, they are mobile. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

VIKING SWEDISH PANCAKES

C’est Si Bon Foodtruck

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A new food truck pulled up for the afternoon and I had to try it. It’s one thing to visit a restaurant, it is another thing to have food come to you. It was well past lunch, but I figured a French food truck listing pastries would have some sweet treats I could snack on. Something to get the blood sugar going and to take home for later.

Driving around town the truck stands out, all white with a thick and volumous moustache on its hood. Turning the corner I was surprised to see that one of the two men working in the truck, had the same full in the centre and pointy at the ends moustache. And they both had the rich French accent to match their wares. I was ever so embarrassed to order in front of them. Was I saying “crepe” right? How was my pronunciation of “croissant”? They didn’t winch and understood what I wanted so that was a win.

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The menu is a listing between sweet and savory. Laminated pieces of paper Velcro-ed on to a wooden rod. This allows them to update regularly and remove options easily when they sell out of something. They had chicken and tuna sandwiches made with their homemade ciabatta buns. The Parisian sandwich was lettuce, ham, and butter on a homemade baguette. Their veggie option with seasonal vegetables was served on a homemade herbed focaccia. And all of the above was also available sandwiched between their in house made butter croissants instead. The same croissants were also offered as is, stored behind a plexi glass on the counter. Or you can have them dressed for dessert with Nutella. Looking for more sweets? They also made crepes on the spot, but unfortunately away from your line of view. And other tarts and pastries are available behind plexi glass.

Truthfully, when looking at the menu I couldn’t decide what to get because nothing jumped out. Nothing seemed any different. Where were the macarons and beautiful petite pastries that I was expecting? Instead these all seemed like things I could get from any cafe or bakery. I wanted to try something that made this truck unique. What made them different than anywhere else I could get a croissant, a crepe, or a premade sandwich at? Luckily I was still open to trying a few things and ended up being pleasantly surprised by them all. Nothing I had disappointed, even after many hours when I got a chance to finish it all. They kept well. Truly, this was a lesson in not judging a book by its cover. I am so caught up in elaborate presentations and the extra bells and whistles that I almost missed something simple and warmly delicious. Shame on me.

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The croissant themselves are something to write about. You can taste all the real butter they use. Flaky and crisp, they almost melted in your mouth. I had mine as part of a “Veggie croissant”, and found it the best croissant sandwich I have had to date. Though honest truth: I don’t eat many croissants, nor do I use many to make sandwiches. None the less, it was the ingredients that set this one apart. Filled with a leaf of fresh lettuce, a juicy tomato slice, roasted red peppers, and their  homemade flavourful pesto. I also paid more to add shredded mozzarella cheese to the mix. I never say no to cheese, especially when it’s freshly shredded from a block. The rich cheese went great with the other lighter ingredients, but it was the nutty pesto paired with the char of the peppers that highlighted this snack. I would go back for more, especially as I found one too small for a meal. Though at $7 each you will be looking at $21 just to be full.

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I ordered a crepe to try. Just a simple one with sugar for $3. My partner often makes crepes from scratch for me, so they aren’t something I am too excited to buy. But the other customer with me, using her hands to eat her crepe off a paper plate seemed happy with what she was having. Even enough to take a photo with the owners of the truck. So I didn’t want to miss out. I have tried other crepes with filling before, but seeing as I enjoy the dough the most, I prefer to have my crepes plain. Made fresh, it was served steaming. I was surprised by the weight of it. Hands down this was the largest and heaviest crepe I have ever had. I have always found the normal ones too little and too light. They weren’t filling, this one was made for me. There was something to sink my teeth in to. It was a chewy eggy batter fold, stuffed with sugar crystals. Each bite into sugar gave crunch and a change in texture, to an the otherwise soggy crepe dripping with melted sugar.

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I have seen a “Mille-feuille” before so thought to try it for the first time now. This was alternating layers of crunchy puff pastry and custard-like pastry cream. The top layer is fondant, a blanket of icing sugar and chocolate swirl. Each bite was better than the last, I instantly fell in love with this dessert. It wasn’t too sweet and had both a crunchy and a smooth texture that I like. It is best eaten with your hands, taking bite after bite like a sandwich. And like a sandwich the filling tends to spill out, but it is difficult to eat with utensils. The top fondant layer is a little stiff and a plastic fork or knife struggles to pierce into it. But that’s okay because it is best when you get a bite full of everything, instead of picking it apart layer by layer.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
No complaints here. I recommend them for light bites, in between meal snacking, and as a quick on the go morsel. It was a little on the pricy side, when compared to the amount of food I got. But I was paying for quality and given the level of it, I was okay with that. I just wish they also sold macarons. We need a macaron food truck roaming the city. Travelling where early to rise and early to close bakeries can’t. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

C’EST SI BON
cest-si-bon.ca
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Disco Cheetah Foodtruck

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I passed by a new food truck and was compelled to take advantage. Its yellow exterior caught my eye, and its name had me smiling: “Disco Cheetah”. It was catchy but what did it refer to? It was enough to have me moving in for a closer look. And good thing, because what I found is what I enjoy: fusion cuisine and the pairing of Korean and Mexican. They deemed themselves a Korean grill, using Korean flavours to fill their Mexican-style packaging.

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The menu was limited: two options with three types of filling, six potential flavour profiles; and a vegetarian choice. Tacos, burritos, and quesadillas. Chicken, beef, or a soy tofu bean curd.

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I asked and took the owner’s suggestion for what protein went best in what wrapper. The quesadilla was all vegetarian, so I skipped that and went for one taco and one burrito. The grilled cheese quesadilla went for $10. It was also listed as a good option for kids. Made with pineapple, their house sauce and slaw, with pickles on the side.

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Their signature taco was $4 for one and $11 for three. They are available in either flour or corn tortilla, and filled with kimchi slaw, house pickles in red and white cabbage, and your choice of meat. The kimchi slaw was made with Korean cabbage, shredded carrot, and chopped chives. The beef was an excellent recommendation and the best part. It’s smaller pieces mixed well with the coarse slaw. A fine combination of moist and dry, soft and crunchy, spicy, and cooling. I usually don’t like kimchi, but I like what they did with it here. It wasn’t soggy, but instead was the main element that gave the taco its crisp freshness and crunchy texture.

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Their weekly feature was the self proclaimed “healthy” kimchi fried rice burrito for $9. It came with your choice of their three main proteins either bulgogi beef, spicy chicken, or soy tofu. I had the chicken wrapped in a 13 inch flour tortilla. It tasted healthy on the first bite, thanks to the use of raw and lightly seasoned veggies. It was heavier than the taco figurative and literally. The rice made it filling and the meat made it tasty. This was a two handed giant that spanned two meals to consume.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
The food was good, its concept fun, and the price points made it worth revisiting. If you are looking for a taste they appear on South Granville every Tuesday. Thought I still don’t know what their name refers to. Don’t deny your cravings.

DISCO CHEETAH
Location Varies
Vancouver BC
778-873-3776
discocheetah.com
Disco Cheetah on Urbanspoon

Eat! Chicken Wraps

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I have passed by this stationary food cart on several occasions, but nothing really stood out to have me lining up for a wrap. I guess compared to all the other adorned and flashy trucks with their fusion menus and catchy names this one just didn’t stand out. Though not that it’s any worse, in fact after one taste I went back for more throughout the week. To nitpick, the logo is a little off putting. A live chicken red cap, yellow beak and all; looking scared as it’s folded in to a tortilla with cooked strips of chicken, lettuce, and tomatoes. In hind sight, this maybe one of the reasons I haven’t made this a must go until now.

It has been doing well as a fixture on the corner of Howe and Robson. A busy intersection at Robson Square. Standing alone, it competes against other food trucks and its immediate wrap competitor: “Chipotle”. For those who can’t wait or don’t want to wait in the “Chipotle” line that goes out the door, “Eat!” is a solid second choice and only a few feet away. Most impressively they also accept debit and credit, often a rarity on the food cart scene.

The cart is tethered and pulled to its permanent location everyday. I have yet to figure out their schedule. Though working for yourself that should be a perk: dictating when you start, how early you close up, or if you even come at all. Though for regulars this may be irritating. I work near by and have been trying to write a review on them over the last week of the holiday season. I have been encountering difficulties with timing my meal breaks to their hours of operation and arriving only to be greeted by an absent cart. 

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My first visit late at night had me waiting in a three person queue only to be delivered the sad news that they are out of chicken. No chicken on a chicken food truck is a little ironic. Substitutions were offered, but the thought of tofu instead of chicken just didn’t stack up. “Beef” was the other option, I was considering it, only to learn it would just be chopped up pieces of hot dog meat. I wasn’t willing to have my first taste be with any of those substitutions, so made a point to try again next. Even though it was sad to see them sell out of their main ingredient, it was nice to have them open later to catch the evening shopping crowd. Seeing as these customers were spending so much on gifts for other, it was helpful to offer them a way to save on themselves. A filling meal at under $10.

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The cart is painted in yellow and red and adorned in lights for the season. The lights also allow them to stay visible during the evenings where the sun now sets sooner. As I described earlier the chicken logo was a brazen sight. It spread across the back of the cart, repeating again on the side. The screaming fowl encouraging customers to essentially “Eat!” their chicken wraps with the promise of each being made with only fresh chicken. The below is a compilation of several menu items over several visits. On each occasion something varied. For example, during the latest stop a thermos offered free tea to beat the brisk chill in the air. And complimentary peanuts in shell were offered as a grab and go side, or as a snack to tide you over as you waited for your order. 

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A couple operates out the front window. A young woman mans the front taking orders and dispensing her brand of pleasant customer service. And the man prepares the food with speed and accuracy, in silence. The menu is a chalkboard list on the right. Five variations on the simple premise of chicken meat wrapped in dough, often accompanied by lettuce. Each bundle is made unique with very different and distinct flavour profiles. The Mexican flavours of “el pastor” and “Caesar” in a wrap, the Chinese influence in the “hoisin chicken roll”, and the popular North American flavour of buffalo chicken rolled into a handheld. There is even a wrap-less chicken wrap, presented on ice berg lettuce with your choice of how the chicken is prepared. Great for those who are diet conscious or gluten free. There are also options to turn your single wrap in to two smaller tacos for the same price. They made for easier sharing.

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A stand up blackboard on the ground promotes their special: not a wrap, not a taco, but a rice bowl. Essentially similar ingredients in their other wraps hodge podged together with crispy deep fried onions and a fried sunny side egg. As a lover of a good runny yolk lubricating moist rice, this was a must try for me, and I was not disappointed. A fellow customer declared it was good choice as I paid and he acknowledge the cart owner and operator by name. “Rice Box:” grilled chicken, fried egg, crispy onion, lettuce, and pickled radish, in a hoisin and creamy garlic sauce. Topped with sesame seeds and cilantro. When offered to me, I was excited with all that I saw going on. An explosion of colour, smells, and visible texture. The standard sweet and salty Chinese flavours were pronounced with the use of hoisin sauce. And with the option to use chilli sauce you added a sweet heated spice that is also distinctively Chinese. The crispy fried onion slices and the raw shredded slaw gave the box some crunch. The creamy sauce and runny yolk over rice gave you that enjoyable chewiness, like what you are having has some substance to it. Surprisingly the crispy and moist chicken was not the main ingredient in this assembly. Instead it played an equal part with its co-ingredients to bring this cornucopia to life. Also, I could have sworn I tasted some pork in the mix; the fattiness, the saltiness and the crackle of a piece of pork skin. Eat it fast, the travel time in the cold had me enjoying it at room temperature. Though I am sure it would have been even better heated.

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“Hoisin Chicken Roll”. Crispy Chinese pancake, five spice seasoned grilled chicken, Asian style salad, pickled radish, green onion, and hoisin sauce. The pancake is reason enough to try this. Flavourful on its own and so much more when filled. The firmness of the pancake doesn’t allow for flexibility, so the use of “roll” in the title instead of “wrap” makes sense. Because of this it was a struggle to eat and hard to keep all contents within the pancake bundle. I ended up enjoying it over a garbage can as to not make a mess. The roll was offered in a wax bag, wrapped with napkin, and handed to me with a sealed wet nap. There was a commitment made to eat this. A commit to be constantly yielding this in one hand, because soon as you allow it to rest the whole package would loosen and fall apart. This was a bounty of flavours and textures. Sweet from the hoisin sauce and crispy from pancake; you got a freshness from the greens and the pickled cucumber lightened the whole lot with a pleasing sour tang. The chicken was juicy and as a whole the wrap was as good as I had hoped it to be when I read the title.

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“Chicken Cesar wrap”. Crispy chicken cutlets, romaine hearts, tomatoes, onions, Caesar dressing, fresh lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, and honey mustard. This was a classic flavour prepared to travel. The breaded chicken breast is folded into a soft flour tortilla, with crispy lettuce, juicy tomato, and a creamy dressing. Heavily coated there was no skimping on the sauce.

As I mentioned earlier these wraps are not meant to be taken on the road. There was full on concentration needed for strategic bites. Luckily there were public benches along the sidewalk and a park adjacent to sit and enjoy your meal in.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A quick meal at a good price, in a pinch. A cart run by local entrepreneurs who provide great customer service and who remember their regulars. Not to mention the ease of accepting debit and credit as payment. These wraps are as hearty as the wraps at “Chipotle”, but without the wait and any of the decision making; instead on their carefully pre-crafted menu items. Each comes with its own unique flavours and interesting use of ingredients. And as food on the go there isn’t often a long wait, the perfect snack and work break meal. Don’t deny your cravings.

EAT! CHICKEN WRAPS food cart
800 Howe Street, Vancouver BC, V6Z1A1
604-727-0573
eat-chickenwraps.com
Eat Chicken Wraps on Urbanspoon

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