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Category: sandwiches Page 1 of 4

Crab Park Chowdery

I have seen photos of their soups and sandwiches circulating on their branded wood boards and within their printed tin cups. Therefore, I was delighted to be invited down to “Crab Park Chowdery” to try a few items off of their menu myself. Because, truth be told, I could not see myself taking the trip down to Gaston just to visit them otherwise.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed all that I had and would definitely visit them again, it is just that they are less of a destination and more a trip out of convenience. Their little shop is frequented by casual dinners grabbing a cup and a barstool. That little shop in the neighbourhood that serves as and ideal lunch spot, or that place to grab a snack at after work. And with reasonable prices that marries up to their delicious food. If already downtown I would walk from the west end to Gastown for a seat, and better yet I would frequent the spot if there was a location by my work place.

You scan through their menu, a scroll of parchment suspended high on their red brick wall. A collection of 4 different sandwiches and 5 different soups are spelled out before you. You pay then pick an empty place to sit. The restaurant has a few high tops and more stools in front of benches and at the bar. There isn’t much in terms decoration. A few nautical elements help set the tone for this seafood restaurant. A painting of a blue gradient wave, another of a lighthouse on a rock, and a miniature ship’s wheel as an ornament.

As I mentioned earlier, everything is served on their heat scorched and branded wooden boards. They include two circles where your meal and its side are placed over each, with the “Crab Park” logo centring both. Then there are two little prongs, perfect for keeping your spoon in place should you decide to order soup.

Today we had their most popular soup, the “New England clam chowder” with bacon in their bread bowl, which costs extra. But who doesn’t love being able to eat the vessel in which their food is served in? The soup was chunky with plenty of clam, bacon, celery, and green onion to chew through. I liked its creamy finish, but found it all a little too salty with the naturally briny nature of the seafood. It was best taken with bits of bread bobbed in like a dip. I didn’t really feel that the bacon added to anything, especially given how salty everything already was. Instead I could have used it as a garnish below, and taken the tomatoes from it, here for a better, lighter balanced soup.

If you want a little less bread with your soup you can order your serving in either a 10 or 18oz tin cup. Here they come with just half a loaf of bread, the same fresh and chewy sourdough loaf that served as our bowl above. This is the “loaded baked potato soup”, a tasty vegetarian option or something that doesn’t have seafood, if you don’t like seafood but decide to visit a restaurant with “crab” in its name anyways.

The soup is everything you want in a drinkable baked potato. Thick and creamy like a mashed potato with that sour cream tang, the leek base and fresh chive topping gave it some freshness. The only thing that felt out of place were the chopped up tomato chunks. Here, I would have preferred some bacon overtop to round out the baked potato imagery, although that removes one of the only vegetarian options from off their smaller menu.

Soups are best with sandwiches so we got a couple to share. Each sandwich is served on the same broad as the soups, but paired with a cup of super crunchy, lightly dusted bbq chips instead. The chips were a great change of texture and tastes in between bites.

The “Lobster salad sandwich” is made with lobster, shrimp, and celery in a creamy sauce, but it is the buttery hot dog bun that it is served on that makes it. Deliciously good, no complaints.

Their grilled cheese comes with the possibility of add ons to make it your own: tomato, crabmeat, and/or bacon. We got the crab and really couldn’t tell that any of it was in between our slices of crispy toasted bread and strands of ooey gooey cheese. The dill was the most noticeable flavour, it and the add-on of tomato are ideal for their help in breaking up the richer flavours. As a whole the grilled cheese was greasy, and got worse so the more it was allowed to rest. Although I was very impressed that its crispy texture held up, well after my intense photo shoot. The easy remedy for the above is a dip into one of their tomato based soups, because grilled cheese and tangy tomato is a classic flavour combo.

At each table setting there is a caddy of squeeze bottles for your to sauce up your meal with. 6 different flavours, with some bottles nearly empty. Although we found our meal above so rich that we didn’t even reach out for one.

 

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.
Once again a great option for lunch, and even better as a warm and comforting snack in between meals on these cold days. Worth checking out during your next shopping excursion downtown. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

CRAB PARK CHOWDERY
221 Abbott Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 2K8
604-565-2722
chowdery.com
Crab Park Chowdery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bánh Mi Très Bon

Today we were traveling around Richmond, taking on the “Dumpling Trail”, a self guided tour that took you on a journey to taste 13 different kinds of dumplings across 20 different restaurants, all vetted and vouched for by “Tourism Richmond”. “Banh Mi Tres Bon” is the latest restaurant to be inducted to this list and their “banh bot loc”, the newest dumpling you can try on the “trail”.

 

To check out all our achievements on the trail, and too learn more about the dumplings featured at “Banh Mi Tres Bon”, check out the latest video on my channel: MaggiMei.

They are not just a causal Vietnamese restaurant, this little cafe has character. A collection of art and knick knacks littering the room makes the space feel smaller and more live in. A decorative old timey bicycle with giant wheel, geodes and crystals, stuffed plush, and hanging decorative hot air balloons. In the corner was a little nook with upholstered chaises and books facing out on a shelf. And the soft melodic music in the background, furthered the above with its calming ballads.

In tune with the cafe feel there was a showcase by the register offering character macarons and individual sized cakes. But we were here for their savoury dishes, as spelled out on their memorable wooden menus.

“Banh bot loc” are Vietnamese shrimp and pork dumplings served with fish sauce. You pour the latter over the former, and enjoy the salty and sweet with the chewy and starchy of these dumplings. A taste and texture, I very much so enjoyed.

Another type of dumpling that wasn’t on the menu, but we were lucky enough to be treated to, were these mung bean rounds. With a pork filling and a fish sauce dip, they were similar to the above, but different with its gummy exterior and fried onion topping.

When visiting “Banh Mi Tres Bon”, their “Savoury mini crepes” are also worth trying. Served in their very own sizzling skillet, with all the tools you need to remove each round. It is suggested that you do this before pouring the fish sauce over the mini crepe. This is to ensure that you get the full experience of a crispy cup housing the salty meat filling.

I highly recommend their “Butter garlic chicken wings”. Crispy fried chicken with a buttery finish and a garlicky kick. I could eat a bucket of these in one sitting. Best with a dip into their sweet and salty fish based sauce.

And you don’t visit a resultant called “Banh Mi Tres Bon”, without trying one of their banh mi. And with their “Banh mi trio”, you can try 3 out of 7 of their Vietnamese sub offerings as a flight. Each has the same list of vegetables that include carrot, radish, cucumber, cilantro, and jalapeño; you are just changing up the protein in between the crispy slices of fresh baguette bread.

The house special had cold cuts of Vietnamese ham and braised pork belly.

The pork meat ball, was more like a minced pork loaf.

And the grilled lemon grass chicken could have used more time on the grill, to allow the pepperiness of the chicken to shine through better.

 

 

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.
Not necessarily my go to for Vietnamese cuisine, given the travel time; but a solid option for a quick meal and even take out, when you are in the area. Everything was unique and delicious, and I am told their bone marrow pho is worth coming back for. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BANH MI TRES BON
1840-4720 McClelland Road, Richmond BC
778-928-7298
banhmitresbon.ca
Bánh Mi Très Bon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Electric Bicycle Brewing Co.

The coolest brewery on the block.

The name is a nod to the shop that once stood in its place: an electric bicycle store. And like this name the entire brewery is just as unique.

This is one of Vancouver’s newest breweries and the most whimsical I have visited to date. There is no missing this spot with its colourful exterior: a rainbow of triangles outlined in black, transiting into orange polka dots. And if that kaleidoscope of colours doesn’t catch your eye, the “wacky waving inflatable failing arms tube man” (the name coined by “Family Guy”) permanently stationed outside will. The green tube man dawned a spiky cut as it waved you closer. Or maybe it was the clown you found inviting: a red hair jester, toting a beer. It posed you with a question and the solution was to venture inside for a drink. He came without a face, where you can place yours in its space, a face hole for posed photos.

The building reads “the most amazing Electric Bicycle brewing co.”, and they aren’t exaggerating. I caught my head spinning when I walked in. Wall to wall there was so much stimuli, so much fun, and so much worthy of photographing. The open space is striped in white and aqua, there is a fake flower wall, neon signs, a high top long table reconstructed from a salvaged curio, and a hollowed out bar outfitted like a fish tank with neon rocks.

There was even a wonderland enroute to the washroom. An awning of additional fake flowers crown you, as you walk past fun house mirrors that shrink and distort your frame.

You order and pay right at the bar. A pink tube connects the beer taps. A different shaft and paint dripped top to differentiate between them all, with a second set to fill their growlers. Like their individual cans, these are just as creative with cartoon graphics and bold hues, making them just as collectable and just has fun to display. Your choice in beers is listed in back lit concession signs.

We ordered two flights in order to be able to try all six of their craft beer on tap and available today. Each comes with 4 tasters, so we did double down on two. The flights are aptly named the “oujia flight”, a rhe paddle it is served on what looks like a pointer from a oujia board. They are the perfect pairing to the tables that are plastered in a pale aqua oujia board print with letters, number, “yes and no”, and all.

The following are the six beers on tap, as listed on their menu, with notes on what I found noteworthy. “The Machinaw” was a light “hazy peach rested ipa”, smooth at 6.5%. “It’s no game” was a regular Hazy ipa at 6.5%The “Floridian holiday pink peppercorn ipa” at 6% was like nothing like I have had. I wet back sip after sip for its spiciness. The “Windfall cider” was a break in the pack with its crisp effervescent-ness at a lofty 7%.

I was most excited to try “Kaedama”, a “Ramen noodle altbier”. It is made in collaboration with “Ramen Butcher”. This beer is brewed with their fresh noodles and “Mr. Noodles” instant noodles, and I wish I could tell you that I could taste both. It was very easy to drink at 4.2%, but I wouldn’t be able to tell it had noodles in the mix, if not for the name and it’s description detailed on their clipboard menu. The “Super soaker 50” lived up to its name as a juicy glass of wet hopped Cali common at 5.3%.

Maybe it was all the beers and maybe I was hungry, but we also got an amazing grilled cheese sandwich from this brewery/bar. They have three options, including a spicy chicken and an earthy mushroom all hand crafted and pressed to order behind the bar. Given that we were dining and sharing with at toddler, we made grilled cheese and ham our choice. The gooey cheese, crispy toast, and salty ham were a tried and true winning combination. A classic pairing, well finished with a side of their own home made tomato sauce. Overall, a really satisfying snack, and one that each table seated also ordered and enjoyed.

 

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.
What a great spot, and a memorable way to experience Vancouver’s craft beer scene. No more words needed for this one. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

ELECTRIC BICYCLE
20 E 4th Avenue, Vancouver BC, V5T 1E8
604-709-9939
electricbicyclebrewing.com

Smokehouse Sandwich Company

Today I was invited to “Smokehouse Sandwich Company”, where this 10-6pm cafe was transformed into the setting of our homestyle turkey dinner, just in time for Thanksgiving.

This is one of two locations, the other being downtown Vancouver. This, their Richmond location is their original and the one still operated by the founding owners. And it was them that invited us to this “friendsgiving” feast tonight.

As part of a plaza hidden in a residential area, all framed by the same burgundy awning, you wouldn’t think such an imaginative restaurant would be past its cast iron facade. In fact I drove right past it the first time around.

The space was rustic and woody with a darkened interior. It had an museum-feel to it with miss matched chairs, reclaimed wood table and a collection of antiques. A working light meter protected in leather, box cameras, typewriters, a film projector. It seemed like you walked into a time capsule, lost in the woods with dried branches, piles of chopped fire wood.  But made kid friendly with plenty of toys and a play area to entertain young customers in. Wooden mazes, board books, picture puzzles, and even bongos.

We were all gather around a long table, hungrily awaiting a family share style feast that included turkey and sides. They are offering their “Smokehouse Rosemary and Thyme Turkey Platter” starting today (October 1st) until Thanksgiving Day (October 8th). The meal comes with a full 16-17lbs roasted turkey with homemade gravy and a cranberry and pistachio sauce. Followed by three comfort sides: mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, and a sausage and herb stuffing. All this with set you back $186.45. It is good for 12-15 people with intended leftovers. For those interested they are asking for at least three days notice. Simply call them at 604-370-4177 or send us a private message on Facebook to place your order.

The turkey comes whole, but you can ask for it to be carved up. Though honestly the pageantry of carving is one that many foodies like myself, enjoy and wouldn’t miss the show for. Although at the same time, looking at the labour that goes into this act, maybe save yourself the trouble, after all you are already ordering a full Thanksgiving dinner to avoid such work. Unless you intend to take the tasty credit for this “home cooked” meal. No one would judge you, nor would they blame you.

Watching one such large bird be carved up, it looked super moist. Our chef/host easily cut into it, tearing meat from bone, and presenting us an easy to share main. I found my dark meat piece a little dry, but the crispy turkey skin and the generous sides of gravy easily helped to rectify this. Fish sauce was used as a seasoning to give the turkey an extra kick.

The buttery potatoes were whipped smooth, perfect when smothered in the aforementioned runny, peppery gravy, so should you choose to pair them together.

This style of stuffing was new to me, whereas I expected moist and almost soggy stuffing, the “Smokehouse” rendition was not actually “stuffed” or cooked within the turkey. The result, chewy cubes of buttered bread, spicy sausage, and slightly cooked carrot and celery. Not what I anticipated, but a hearty and interesting interpretation. It ate more like a crouton salad. Here, I would recommend pouring gravy over this for some moisture and to achieve the gummy texture I described above.

The Brussels sprouts were a nice side of green. A good chew coated in a cream sauce sprinkled with sautéed garlic and onions. It brightened up our meal along with the cranberry sauce, offering up breaks of salty with sweet and tangy.

To drink we enjoyed their house-made “Strawberry and mint” tea and their “Honey ginger lemon”. You got the intended flavour with the former, but in a nice mild drink to accompany and compliment any dish. I would recommend this over any iced tea, any day. The ginger one made for a great after dinner drink, especially as the heat of the ginger aids in digestion.

 

For those visiting them normally, they do specialize in sandwiches. Their menu is neatly printed on a ceiling to floor chalkboard, offering sandwich varieties for $9.99. For $4 more they will double down on the meat for you. And this isn’t your regular honey ham or black forest cold cuts; this is salted cured pork belly, pulled tamarind chicken, and coffee crusted strawberry glazed beef brisket, just to name a few of the creative proteins that they offer. They also have a vegetarian option for $5.99 which includes slaw, salsa, and aioli. For a more fulsome meal they have plenty of greens and sides to accompany your meat and bun with. Soups, salads, slaw, and Brussels sprouts.

Or you can simply take advantage of their seasonal special: a turkey sandwich inspired by the dinner above, but including many extras. The “Pablo”Sandwich with the same smoked rosemary and thyme turkey we enjoyed, pickled apples, dried cranberries, roasted pistachios, lettuce, and aioli. Served with a side of gravy for dipping. Looking back, I wished I ordered this to go for lunch tomorrow.

 

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.
My dining companions raved about their sandwiches, so I would definitely like to return to try one or two. As for their Thanksgiving promotion: take it for me, just order their special dinner, avoid the stress of holiday cooking, and enjoy more of the evening with your family and friends. Avoid the cooking and pass on the clean up.
Don’t deny your cravings.

 

SMOKEHOUSE SANDWICH
108-5188 Westminster Highway, Richmond BC, V7C 5S7
604-370-4177
Smokehouse Sandwich Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Holy Crab, new lunch menu

Lunch menus give you a great taste of a restaurant. The same great flavours, but in more manageable portions, at a fraction of the cost. Often served in portable, easy to eat presentations. Thus serving as a good way for you to try a new spot without committing to much.

Today I was invited down to Holy Crab to try their new lunch menu. A listing of 10 items, now available (starting April 14th, 2018), and free for ordering from 11am to 4pm everyday. Meaning, you can now get your Cajun seafood fix all throughout the day. Lunch 11am-4pm, Happy Hour 3-5pm, and regular dinner service from 4-10pm. They also have a kids menu now, offering their regular pastas, rice, and sandwiches for littler hands. However it and the new lunch menu items are not available during dinner service.

I visited them during their original run, so to see them continue to evolve and offer more and more for their growing clientele is nice to see. A necessary endeavour, considering a competing sea food boil restaurant will be opening across the street from them soon.

To read my original visit post and learn a little more about “Holy Crab”, visit the link below.

Holy Crab

 

The 10 new menu options was created in part by the input of a local Vancouver foodie, created for the appetites of foodies, with the desire for a photogenic plate it mind. And knowing this, it shows.

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

We started with, in my opinion, the best dish of the new menu. I would go back just for this and probably if I am craving fried rice in general. There was nothing I didn’t like about it. And when you add a fried egg for $2 more, this becomes brunch friendly for $15. Perfectly cooked crispy rice with plenty of seafood. A bevy of tastes and textures to sort through in clams, mussels, tiger prawns, calamari, and catfish; all seasoned in their house-made garlic pepper sauce.

The “garlic shrimp pasta” delivered on the flavour promise. Light, yet heavy on the garlic. You break the 63-degree poached egg and stir it into the mix of tiger prawns, shrimp; house-made garlic pepper sauce, parmesan cheese, and linguine or spaghetti noodles. There is also the option of substituting prawn and shrimp with chicken, for those who don’t like seafood, but decide to tag along to a seafood restaurant.

For a more flavourful pasta the “Creamy Cajun seafood” is a good pick. Here you can also choose your pasta between linguine or spaghetti noodles and then how spicy you want the creamy tomato Cajun sauce between mild, medium, or spicy. It was an impressive curl of noodles surrounded by calamari, mussels, and tiger prawns; and topped with a whole crawfish.

They take grilled cheese to the next level by adding in plenty of seafood. The lobster grilled cheese will get you through the door, but it is the shrimp version that you actually want.

“Lobster grilled cheese”. Buttery soft, fresh lobster chunks engulfed with melted mozzarella cheese and a dill and cheddar bechamel sauce. All pressed between crispy panini bread, and spread with a lobster butter. All together I found the sweetness of the lobster and the bread together, and the richness of the butter sauce too much with all the cheese.

Instead I suggest the “Shrimp grilled cheese” for $4 less. It has all the seafood flavour you want, but with a better balance. There was just so much excess cheese in this that it all fell out the side in stands. And you simply scoop it back between the slices of crispy grilled bread.

Each comes with a cup of soup. Your choice of either their “seafood chowder” in a creamy white broth or a lighter red coloured “seafood bisque”. Both with shellfish and that classic fishy flavour. Although a little too much flavour to dip your sandwich into soup, as you would with the traditional grilled cheese and tomato soup pairing. The chowder stands alone with plenty of clams and celery for crunch. To bisque was tangier more like tomato soup with clams and some juicy shrimp. The latter was so flavourful that I could see it doubling for a pasta sauce with some thickening agent.

The “Surf and turf hash” offers you brunch style eating everyday of the week. A cast iron skillet filled with Cajun and lemon seasoned hashbrowns, sausage, and tiger prawns. Topped with a shrimp etouffee sauce and a perfectly fried sunny side up egg. There was an even ratio of shrimp and sausage to potatoes. Although with the bites of the latter I found things a little too salty when the shrimp sauce was involved. Good overall, but I prefer it more as a side than a main holding is own. Or maybe just the inclusion of some toast to give you another flavour to munch on.

I was most impressed by their “Fish & Chips”. One piece cost $10, $14 for two. Truly these were largest and longest set of white fish fillets I have ever seen, and had battered and deep fried. Crispy battered catfish served with their Cajun fries. Fries which are just as impressive. Hot or cold they are seasoned full of flavour. My only critique would be the quantity of the other sides provided. A small sauce dish of coleslaw and one just as big for tartar sauce seems like hardly enough. Given how much fried food you get, I wished for more refreshing coleslaw to balance things out with. And much more coleslaw to spread over all that fish, because realistically that is the best part of fish and chips. And even better here because like all their all sauces and spreads, the tartar is made in house.

For those looking for something lighter and on the healthier side, there is their “Seafood and avocado salad” made with crab, shrimp, avocado, tomato, corn kernels, and arugula; drizzled with a red apple dark balsamic and a cranberry and pear white balsamic. It was tasty enough, but compared to all the other dishes before and after, it felt more like a side than a main. Better to pair with the sandwiches below, although that would mean giving up the fries, so just get both. Creamy with the avocado and refreshing with all the sweet vegetables. Like eating salsa, and all you need is some chips, or at least some croutons for that crunch.

Out of the two lunch sandwiches I preferred their “Grilled chicken sandwich” with its caramelized onion, sautéed mushrooms, pickled coleslaw, arugula, and Cajun aioli between a soft ciabatta bun. It was a nice saucy bite with a great mix of spicy greens. A great option for those who come to a seafood restaurant, but don’t want seafood.

But at $3 less the “Crispy fish sandwich” offers you a taste of the fish and chips above, but in an easy to eat handheld, and you get the fries with it too. Crispy fried catfish, creamy coleslaw, arugula, and tartar sauce between a soft ciabatta bun. I could have used more tartar sauce for dipping into on the side and some more slaw for crunch.

If you want more fish, but leaner and healthier, I would recommend the “Blackened catfish with etouffee on rice”. This ate more like a full meal with main, sides, and rice. Pan-seared catfish fillet, shrimp etouffee sauce, steamed vegetables, and jasmine rice. It was the same moist fish used in fish and chips, but seasoned with a good char and nice back of throat burn, and then balanced by a sweet and spicy sauce.

And the best pairing for all this spicy, salty, and thoroughly seasoned food is some of their refreshing cocktails. I personally prefer the tropical pina colada or their lychee spritzer.

 

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.
A new menu, and a new reason to visit an already popular restaurant. Good to see them evolving and continuing to grow with their current customer base in mind, and a new round of visitors to come. Truly a solid menu, great staples, new favourites and everything under an affordable $20. Created by a foodie for foodies in mind, and the quality and care shows. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

HOLY CRAB
1588 Robson Street, Vancouver BC, V6G 2G5
604-661-8533
theholycrab.ca

The Gray Olive Cafeteria

After visiting “The Gray Olive” for the first time during a “Vancouver Foodster Tasting Plates” tour in the Burnaby Heights area, I knew to come back when my partner wanted some all day breakfast near our home. We wondered in at 2:30pm, and being the only ones to dine in at the time, had the pick of the place.

You order at the counter, after deciding what it is that you want, from the menu that covers the wall to your left. Weekday breakfast and lunch options are available all day, with some specific brunch specials only available on weekends and during holidays. We came in wanting breakfast, but ended up ordering sandwiches off their weekday lunch menu instead.

Their burgers and sandwiches don’t come with sides so my partner got their “G.O.” potatoes in a smaller serving, to accompany his “chicken bacon club”. This was a traditional club made with quality ingredients. Tender white meat chicken breast, thick cuts of bacon with a crispy caramelized coating, crisp lettuce, and a juicy tomato slice. But in place of a classic mayonnaise spread, they had a roasted garlic aioli. I didn’t really notice it, and found myself missing the tang mayo would have brought to the brioche bun instead. Overall, it was deliciously light with all its freshness. Good, but the breakfast potatoes out shone the sandwich given how good they were and how much more flavour they had in each cube. Each had the perfect crispy texture to them, a thick battered shell hiding a nice soften centre.

I went for their “roast chicken” sandwich, pairing it with a cup size of their “tomato bisque” soup. The soup was one of two soup specials for the day, I made it my side at an additional cost. Pulled chicken, pea shoots, pickled red onion, harvarti cheese, black pepper aioli, crackling, and gravy. It was like a chicken dinner between a toasted baguette, with some of the best tasting chicken I have ever had (and here I thought the sandwich above was impressive). You could taste the quality in everything from the first bite. The toppings added texture with the crunchy crackling and freshness with the green shoots. The red onions offered some tang, but I wanted more for my appetite. Maybe some sweet pickles on the side or a sharp mustard for contrast. I liked the idea of the gravy as a dip, but it only made an already rich sandwich denser. Instead we used it as a dip for the potatoes above, replacing the typical ketchup pairing. It was a light gravy, thick and slightly peppery. It did not mask or overwhelm anything it coated.

As for the soup, it made a great warming start. It had a nice and thick, only slightly lumpy consistency to it. Although I wished it more creamy, where the first sip reminded us of pasta sauce given the spices used.

The restaurant well reflected the food. It’s decor matched in how it was modern and trendy. Light Hearted and simple, you had everything you need and no extra flash. The space was brightly lit, with bleached wood and white furniture, it almost felt like a warm spring day within. Warmth from easy listening music and the that sprouted by the door and above the counter.

My only critique would be how they call themselves a cafeteria, but their food quality and prices are far from a mass assembly of food left to keep warm under a heat lamp. Given that we paid for it, the leisurely meal we enjoyed above, would be nicer as part of a full sit down service. To not order and have to pay before you eat, but to have your order taken at your table. Although they do deliver your meal to you on a metal tray, and bus it all away after; and you also get check-ins as your meal progressed.

 

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.
This, hands down was one of the most freshest meals I have ever had, and one of the healthiest servings I have ever enjoyed. When it all came the portions looked small, but reality was, this was a lot of food and we couldn’t finish it all. My partner got full fast and was sad because it tasted so good and he couldn’t finish it all. And unfortunately none of it would travel all that well as leftovers packed up to go. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

GRAY OLIVE
4190 Hastings Street, Burnaby BC, V5C 2J4
604-566-9664
thegrayolive.com
The Gray Olive Cafeteria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Big Star Sandwich Co.

My partner works in New Westminster, so is steadily exploring the area. When looking for a quick and inexpensive lunch option around his work place, when happened on “Big Star Sandwiches”, on Columbia Street. He liked what he had enough to bring me to their Burnaby location. They brand themselves as an authentic deli, and given the quality of the sliced meat within their sandwiches, they take this slogan seriously.

The Burnaby location is not ideal for walk-in traffic. However, it sits amongst other quick eateries; and a “Subway” franchise three doors down, for direct competition. But despite my preconceived notion, their notoriety earned them several patrons during our stay. A handful of cars took the drive to get to them for takeout. We saw four individuals come through the door after 6:30pm, an hour and a half to their closing. For me, this reaffirmed our meal to come.

The room was dressed pretty simple: concrete walls and floors with wooden tables and cherry red stools. Plenty of space for patrons. Functional, but not comfortable, ideal for a quick eat and go affair. Though the music made you want to stay. Their soundtrack is a good mix of uplifting indie and hip hop beats, echoing against their vaulted ceiling.

I also liked the consistency of their branding. Their logo appeared emblazon on their counter, and again taking centre stage on their mural. A mural that was as informative, as it was meant to be decorative. The logo then appeared once more splashed across the parchment that each 6 to 10 inch sandwich was wrapped in.

Down the length of the deli, their flat screen television played a rotating video. A catalogue of athletes moving and jumping, and generally breaking a sweat to their “always hearty” tag line. Their parkour and hot air balloon rides were inspirational, the athleticism spoke to the restaurants mission of providing their customers with cleaner eating options. However, it made me feel bad, given that I had ordered a sandwich with hickory sticks in it.

You order at the counter. Their televised menu scrolls, so using a take out menu to go down your list of options, is the way to go. I was suckered in by the lure of a feature sandwich, as listed on the blackboard by the register. The clerk mentioned it has been their best seller thus far. “The Neeson” with roast beef, bacon, habanero jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, hickory sticks, and barbecue and chipotle mayo. Judging by its name, I believe this is the one named after Liam Neeson. The sandwich that got Neeson into their New Westminster location last summer, when he was filming it town. They offered him a taste of his namesake for free and he took them up on their offer over social media.

It was stacked high and cut in half for an easier grip. The baguette used was chewy and fresh, and they were off to a good start. I believe that a good sandwich needs to begin with the right bread, and the one they use for all their sandwiches is a standout. Personally, I am not a fan of large stacks of meat in my sandwiches, so I could have done with less ribbons of thinly sliced beef. However there were delicious, and despite removing them from in between the buns, I still finished each slice, as you could taste their quality and didn’t want it to go to waste. I also would have liked more hickory sticks in my sandwich. And if not in the sandwich, a handful of them on the side would have helped. Some extra sticks so that I could actually taste them. I enjoyed their crunch, but the sweet barbecue sauce was the dominate flavour. Similarly, the raw vegetables added a freshness and another different texture to wrap your tongue around; but offered very little to flavour.

My partner had his regular: the slow roasted beef sandwich with bacon, cheddar, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, and chipotle mayo. It was a lighter sandwich compared to mine. Laughter in flavour and literally in how little it weight. It was a simple assembly, allowing the beef to be the star.

Both subs were a small six inch, and it was plenty. Enough to fill, given its chock-a-bloc of ingredients. And this is huge, coming from a gal with a furious appetite; one who orders the 12 inch from Quiznos, because that is not enough food.

With our sandwiches we ordered two of their sides. Both paled in comparison and were horribly lack lustre. There were only two soups available for the day. I went with the “cream of broccoli” over the “Canadian split pea”, wanting a thicker soup to dip my bread into. Instead, this was the most watery soup I have ever had with the work “cream” in its name. The soup tastes too healthy to be indulgent, with the hard bits of broccoli left uncooked. Disappointingly hard and served only luke warm. But at $3.50 for the cup, I didn’t bother to bring it to the attention of the clerk.

That and she was just so wonderful that she made up for the disappointment. She was also the most memorable note of our visit. She was approachable, yet easy going. After we paid she brought our tray of food to our chosen table. She then came back to check in on us a few more times. This was more table check ins and service than I was expecting from a sandwich deli; and more than what I have gotten from other sit down restaurants.

We also tried their potato salad. It was better than the soup, but just as bland. The pictured small container set us back $1.50, so I can’t really complain. I would have have liked more tang to it, some relish or gherkin pickles would have been ideal. Although the potato salad is available in a sirachra or horseradish version as well. But I would suggest skipping it and just splurging on a back of chips instead. Chips would have been the best side with these sandwiches. They would offer crunch and a pop of flavour, should your chosen sandwich need it.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A decent sandwich stop, better than Subway and most grocery or corner store alternatives. Although, it won’t be my go to. Good sliced meats, but no much else worth revisiting. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BIG STAR
3736 Canada Way, Burnaby BC, V5G 1G4
604-431-0373
bigstarsandwich.com
Big Star Sandwich Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Panniza, Tsawwassen Mills

We were on route to Point Roberts to pick up a parcel at the letter carrier, so decided to stop at the newer Tsawwassen Mills shoppping mall for brunch. It would just be a food court meal, but I was excited to be able to check out this outlet mall for the first time, even if it was just walking towards the food pavillian. They have built the mall to capture all those taking the ferry to and from the island, and families on vacation were certainly taking advantage of them.

Tsawwassen Mills is built on native land, and is decorative with elaborate pieces of art to reflect this. Every corridor had either a craved out ceiling panel, decorative sculpture, or diorama depicting native culture. All this made it just as much an art gallery as shopping experience; as seen by the visitors taking the time to pose and take photos with each display.

After a walk through the spacious food area, we decided on a vendor that we both have never seen in any food court or been to before: “Panniza”. Here, they customize pizzas, salads, sandwiches and poutines with the slogan “you create, we bake”. Although given the name, you would assume an offering of pressed panninis sandwiches will be in there somewhere. But maybe the “pan” refers to pizza baked on a pan? Like all other pizza?

None-the-less this seemed like the one to try. The first baked to order pizza place in any mall that I have seen. They only make them in individual sized portions, so we got one of those. Each $9.95, unless you want to simply choose two toppings with your cheese and sauce for $7.95. There was a vegetarian option included olives and red peppers, a Mediterranean onewith ingredients like feta and spinach, and the Pilly had steak and mushroom. I was with my more cautious partner so went safe with their take on a Hawaiian pizza, we both believe that pineapple has a place on pizza. Their “Aloha” came with a handful, along with bacon and ham over their pizza sauce and surrounded by mozzarella cheese.

You get a view of everything being crafted to order from your side of the glass. The crust starts of as an already risen ball of dough. It is rolled out over a round mesh pan. As for the toppings, everything is scooped from tubs and mixed together in a metal bowl before being spread out all over the now flattened and sauced up ball of dough. It is then fed through a conveyor belt oven, that by the time it comes out the opposite end, you have a golden brown crust and melty cheese. This must be a very powerful machine as it couldn’t have been more than 30 seconds and everything was fully cooked, the bacon pieces even had a little char to them.

As for how it ate, the crust was like that of any frozen grocery store pizza, that icy and baked to thaw taste and texture. Where as delivery pizza has that fresh chewy crust that makes it more like bread. But keep in mind, this is the only way to have this made to order pizza in a food court setting work. I found the crust alright though, as I enjoy my pizza with ranch and it just becomes bread sticks that way, anyways. Thanks to the mixing before topping, the ingredients had a fairly even distribution, especially the ham rounds that found its way on the sauced and flatten pizza dough first. I liked the springy dough. But did feel the thin crust would have been better prepared quick like this. But once again, with ranch it just tasted like ranch.

We also tried one of their sandwiches, with a vegetarian, burger, and fish option, we went for their “Triple P”. This was three types of pork in a BBQ dressed bun. It came with way too much arugula, making bites slightly bitter, not refreshing as the greens were attended to be. The meat was dry, which would have been glossed over if there was more barbecue sauce and mayonnaise to add tang and flavour. Overall, nothing all that memorable.

 

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.
A little far to go just for fast food pizza. But as a tourist solution for those already shopping in the area, this is a pretty good food court eat. $21 for all this isn’t bad, an average taste for a decent price. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

PANNIZA
52nd Street , Local FC5, Tsawwassen BC, V4M 0B3
604-383-0060
pannizza.com
Pannizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Meat & Bread for Turducken

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2016 had me crossing off much from my foodie bucket list, and this would end with my first taste of “turducken”. This one term is made by combining the words turkey, duck, and chicken together. And like it is with the word’s origin, the actual food item is exactly as you would expect. It is the stuffing of one protein into another, and then both into a third. An endeavour I have always wanted to undertake myself. But the preparation of such a treat have prevented me from following through. The amount of work, the cost, and the time. I have also looked into purchasing such a creation, and even then the price to pay and the need to bake it myself was more of a commitment than I could bare.

So when I saw that “Meat and Bread” were bringing back their annual turducken sandwich for two days only, I made an effort to cross another off my to-eat list. This effort included waking up early, then lining up in the rain to ensure they didn’t sell out; and that we could enjoy this Christmas treat, dining within their facilities.

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I have been to their other location on Pender, so know of their concept and reputation. A few artisan sandwiches worth the buzz and the trip out for. Making them not only a lunch time connivence, but a destination for food lovers.

We were actually the ones to venture through their threshold first. However turned away, being 25minutes too early, despite their door being propped open and looking all inviting. But not before I was able to lay eyes on all their rounds of roasted meat, tied off, and lined up by the counter. It’s delicious scent followed us out the door. Instead remained the full army of staff, busy preparing up to the very last minute. No doubt they were expecting a busy turn out, and I guess we were proof of that. We walked away a few blocks, only to return right quick, as a line quickly grew 10 minutes to. We would be the third group of people let in, standing in a queue that snaked around the corner and down the interesting block.

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When we were finally able to enter, we immediately tried to claim a table with our sloughed-off coats. However, we were prevented from doing so by the staff member who told us otherwise. His designation was to stand by the door and regulate traffic flow. Similarly there was another employee, on the opposite side of the room, constantly bussing dishes and cleaning the tables. Both of their specific roles ensured a minimal wait and a quick turn around. So instead, we and everyone else, wrapped around the wooden handrail that separated the counter to order from the seats by the window, and waited our turn.

The menu was a listing stencilled on a black painted wall. Today, along with the seasonal special, they were also offering their more familiar BBQ braised beef and meatball sandwiches. We would share the first and the third, without any sides.

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The restaurant was an open space with the entire kitchen and its chef working within plain sight. Their designated space was set to a wall of tile, with a row of knives hanging magnetically on the wall. In front of it and behind sneeze glass, us patrons were treated to a show. One chef slicing the turducken roasts and chopping it into chunks, before ladling a handsome scoop of their homemade gravy over the lot, and then tossing it all together with his gloved hands. He then scoops out a handful for the filling of either sides of a ciabatta bun. Each side of bread is already spread and dressed by his colleague. In this case it is a colourful mix of their butternut squash remoulade, stuffing, and cranberry Cumberland sauce.

To see this process unfold, click the link.

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Each sandwich, when fully assembled, is brought up to the counter for serving. Each placed on a wooden board over wax paper, and then finished off with a large dollop of mustard as its side. A row of them is quick to complete by skilled hands. Then one by one, each customer claim theirs by rendering payment.

When it was our turn, I appreciated the clerk offering us an opportunity to add on a bowl of their tomato soup or potato salad, but we would pass on both, and later regret it.

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We claimed our sandwich boards, and grabbed two seats along the family style banquet table. It was a comfortable sit that ran the length of their restaurant, across from the procession line in which you order and pay from. We preferred it over the bar seats overlooking the prep space; or the narrow two person tables, between the window and queue, that would result in us dining to a rotating line of customer’s buttocks.

Our seats were close to the “M-E-A-T” sign and their single stall washrooms labeled either “meat” or “bread”. Between the two, is a self serve station of water from pitchers with glasses to pour into. There was a similar station by the front door, that also offered customers the ability to take home the restaurant’s special mix of seasoning in jars. They offered you the ability to recreate some of the flavour of their meats that goes in between their bread.

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The “Turducken sandwich” with gravy, butternut squash remoulade, stuffing, and cranberry Cumberland sauce; was like a Christmas meal in one bite. But with each unique flavour battling it out for supremacy, the sandwich was missing a dominant flavour to cohere everything around. A heavier gravy for a more pronounced meaty flavour, or maybe a heavier handed spread of cranberry sweetness, even some salt and cilantro would have helped give the sandwich a better focal point. As a result, we soon got restless with the on tone taste. Something that would have been easily helped by a side of salad or a bowl of soup, like the ones the clerk recommended that we had refused. Not that a sandwich should be crafted needing an accompaniment. The yellow mustard for dipping was a bare minimum and helpful for a few bites. But the second sandwich we shared helped mix things up best. A nice contrasting flavour to go back and forth on. So I guess you can say it the turducken sandwich we waited in line for, and paid $12 for, fell short and we were disappointed. But I still feel it was worth the try that I can now say I have had.

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We were much more impressed by the “Meatball sandwich” for $3 less. It was a hearty handheld with three full sized all-beef meatballs, Parmesan aioli, kale, and gremolata. It was zesty with spices and tangy with cream. Good, but I personally could have used more sweet and salty marinara sauce, maybe even some stringy mozzarella, and for sure three toothpicks to keep the round meatballs in place as I bit now. The latter would have been especially helpful as it was messy meal, and there was more sauce on our hands and smeared over our mouths than expected. But overall a really delicious sandwich, well balanced and lots of flavour because they didn’t cheap out on the meat.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
It isn’t all that convenient for me, and if/when I venture downtown it is typically for a more fulsome meal; however if in the neighbourhood looking to snack, or if I worked downtown, I could see myself frequenting their sandwich shop more often. Especially given their rotating selection of hearty meat subs, easy to eat full meals between bread. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MEAT AND BREAD, Cambie
370 Cambie Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 1H7
604-566-9003
meatandbread.ca
Meat & Bread Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

IK2GO (Italian Kitchen 2 Go)

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After a few heavier days of drinking my body and wallet needed a break. So to recover, my guest invited me to lunch with her at her favourite spot. A kiosk serving pre-made breakfast and lunch options, prepared by neighbouring restaurant, “Italian Kitchen”. This was take-out ready fare for the working professional. Located at the lobby of some office space, between the actual “Italian Kitchen restaurant and “Bluebird” clothing boutique on Alberni Street. Having never worked in the area, I never knew such an option existed. There were no signs on the building’s either exterior entrances, no sandwich boards inviting customers off the street in, there wasn’t even a sign above the actual counter in which they served. Those in the know just knew.

They looked like a convenience store counter with cafe furnishings and much less organization. With no indication on where the line started, you either gathered by the showcase in which you wanted something, or the cash register where the only three employees congregated. And what ended up happening is you are left feeling cheated either way, as you know you are next, but someone who came after you was offered service first. They were ironically disorganized for what is a convenient option where no food court or fast food solution exists nearby. They also serve as a quicker and more inexpensive meal than many, for all those who were employed in the area to take advantage of.

There was a menu posted behind the counter, although it was hard to read and simply much easier to just order based on sight. Basically everything that was displayed before you, behind glass.

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My guest advocated the cold salads. A collection of large bowls with their own serving spoons at the very end. She ordered herself her usual: a large serving of their quinoa salad with grilled chicken as an add on. Although how she received it was not usual, and she insisted it (and they) was much better normally. Her chicken breast addition was reheated on the grill, but came to her still slightly pink at the centre, in a hue that she was less than comfortable with. A sight quite obvious given how it was presented cut up and served over her salad. When she brought it to the clerk’s attention, he asked her what she wanted him to do about it. She gave him the option of putting it back on the grill or microwaving it so that it would no longer be pink. Although we believe the damage had already been done. That there was the possibility that the raw juices of the chicken had dripped on to the serving of quinoa below it. This is because she found herself with stomach problems after we had finished lunch. And of course, being heated up for the third time, when it finally came back, there was no surprise that it was dry and overcooked. Given the reputation of “Italian Kitchen”, a Glowbal group project, I expected better. I expected the staff to atomically offer her a new chicken breast and discard what didn’t meet their standards. Once again this was not the case and my guest was sick because of it.

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As for the quinoa salad itself, I had a spoonful or two and got away unscathed. It was a mix of carrot, olives, parmigiano reggiano, and coloured peppers; coated in a charred peppered vinaigrette. A tasty salad with a texture as varied as its list of ingredients. Although it could have done with a handful less olives though, even chopped up, they overpowered and left things saltier than desired. My guest ended up picking most out, and reassuring me that she has never had it with this many in both the green and maroon variety. Though their briny taste remained and their oils left a fine film over our mouths and lips as we ate.

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I don’t like leafy greens so was happy to set my sights on their tomato and beet salad. And I was even happier to be able to try both in one large serving container. Although both lacked flavour to hold their own, and would have been much nicer as sides to the chicken or salmon that was available as an add on, or even an accompaniment to a more starchy salad.

The “Tomato caprese” had yellow and red tomato, bocconcini, and basil. When offered I was happy to have a balsamic drizzle added overtop. The fruit was colder than I would have liked and the tomato in larger chunks that prevented ease of eating. With both attributes it was hard to get any in one bite. And when you managed to, it lacked flavour. There wasn’t enough basil or cheese to go around. Similarly, the “Beet and goat cheese salad” used two colours of beet and tasted flat. I couldn’t make our any of the grapefruit segments that was listed or much of the citrus vinaigrette. Here some of the extra olives from my guest’s salad found a good home.

Although overall, even with my alternating between bites of the two salads, I quickly got bored of taste and the wateriness of both. I wished I got a small portion as I didn’t finish either, and at $9 I could have gotten better. Better not only else where, but maybe with their some of their other offerings?

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They had other cold salsa that would have been more heartier mains like a broccoli with Parmesan, chickpea, cous cous, and even pasta salad. They also had sandwiches, which were given their own showcase. They were available pre-made, rolled into wraps or built as sandwiches between flaky croissants and ciabatta buns. Truffle prosciutto, Roast beef, Mortadella, Veal Parmesan, and grilled veggie, just to name a few choices.

The flatbread pizza kept warm under heat lamps above the counter. Today there was a smoked salmon and marinara available. If I wasn’t looking to cut down on my carb intake this meal, I would have indulged in one of each.

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And for those who like to round their meal off with some sweets, or maybe for those looking for a pastry with their morning coffee, they had a decent selection to point and order from. Cherry Greek yogurt and apple cinnamon danishes, individually sliced and wrapped loaves, chocolate covered bars, muffins and Rice Krispie squares.

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I had planned to order a smoothie, thinking it would be freshly blended in either berry, banana, or orange; but learned they too were pre-made. They sat waiting to be picked up from the open refrigeration unit, along with the bottles juices, pop, and yogurt parfaits. Looking at the only flavour, a separated and congealed blue berry, I passed.

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Just as well, seeing as there is no available seating area in the lobby of this building. And unlike the others standing in line before and after us, who would later head back to their desks to eat, we would have to take our meal to go. First, we helped ourselves to their counter stocked with cream and sugar, napkins and plastic cutlery; and took everything to “Tierry’s” cafe nearby. There, we took advantage of the warmth of their indoor seating area, by having our lunch with some of their hot beverages.

Of note, according to my guest who is a regular and will continue to be (despite her one of experience today) she suggests coming before the lunch time rush, to avoid a lengthy wait in line and to ensure there is still salmon and chicken left, which tend to be the most popular and sells out fairly quick.

 

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.
Given the price and experience, I much rather spend a few more dollars and enjoy the lunch menu at the actual “Italian Kitchen”. But given the need and niche, I can see why this kiosk exists and why they are so popular. Once again, they offer those in the area a quick and easy lunch time solution. Healthier food at a bearable price. I do not belong to this category of diners. I am from out of town, so when I venture into Vancouver I make it worth my while, with a meal that lives up to my expectations of area. And this is not it. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

IK2GO
In the lobby of the Burrard Building
1049 Alberni Street, Vancouver BC, V6Z 1X6
604-629-3436
glowbalgroup.com/ik2go.html
IK2GO Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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