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

Category: Where Page 1 of 152

Pizzeria Grano, #PizzaChallengeYVR 2021

Amidst the new restaurant regulations of April 2021, and the need to support the hospitality industry more than ever, Vancouver Foodster’s #PizzaChallengeYVR is giving foodies and pizza aficionados a reason to dine in on patios and take out at home. And as one of the 3 judges, I have been tasked to visit each competing restaurant, to try each creation; then pick my favourite based on Taste, Originality, and Presentation. And as diners, you are invited to do the same, voting online for your favourite, to be crowned the people’s choice.

Today I was at Pizzeria Grano on Main Street, the vegan restaurant, who is highlighting their Patate al Forno for the competition. Grano prides itself on preparing traditional Neapolitan pizza, which includes utilizing properly hand-stretched dough that is traditionally topped, then baked in their domed shaped brick oven. The result, a delicious crust and the ideal base for their plant-based menu. 

Their competing pizza features a cashew bechamel base with whipped potato, cashew mozzarella; and is finished with crispy bacun bits, chives and their house-made sour cream. I likened it to a deconstructed baked potato over airy pizza dough. I liked the idea, but would have preferred the potatoes baked firm to better contrast the crispy dough. Though the flavours were all there: with the refreshing chives and the “bacun’s” smokiness being the highlight. I just wished there was more of the latter, and in larger chunks to easily make out and provide that contrasting texture I was looking for above.

We also tried the Tartufo pizza, which is my guest’s favourite pizza from Grano. For those who need their cheese dairy-free and love the strength of flavour that truffle provides, this one is for you. Roasted garlic purée, olive oil,  cashew mozzarella, crimini mushrooms, truffle pate, and parsley. You got exactly what you expected with this one and then some. No complaints, just a top notch mushroom pizza. I can see why this is her favourite.

I was more enamoured by the Eggplant Parmesan. I have only just tried this fdish or the very first time, here. Baked layers of roasted eggplant with marinara sauce, walnut pesto, and cashew ricotta; served with house made focaccia. Upon first blush impression it reminded me of a vegetable version of lasagna with the layered thin slices of eggplant, and marinara sauce thickly coating it, all baked to order. This was super tasty, the perfect sauce to scoop up with the pieces of in house baked focaccia on the side. I would gladly take this out any day and would come back for more when they are allowed to seat patrons indoors again.

Overall Pizzeria Grano is a gem, vegan or not, they prepare delicious pizzas and are worth checking out for yourself for pizza that you will try and crave for again in the future!

Pizzeria Grano
3240 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5V 3M5
(604) 876-5408

Sciué Yaletown, #PizzaChallengeYVR 2021

Restaurants may be forced to shutter and dining-in is no longer an option; but luckily takeout is a go and pizza continues to be one of the easiest to do just that with. And this strange year, I am once again helping to judge Vancouver Foodster’s annual #PizzaChallengeYVR. Local restaurants are invited to pit their pizzas against one another, in hopes of finding the best in the city. And as it was for previous years, you are invited to try all the pizza competitors, then vote for your favourite as people’s choice winner. As a judge, I will be trying each myself and critiquing them on Taste (20 points), Originality and Uniqueness (10 points), and Presentation and Appearance (10 points).

And today, my first pizza stop in the challenge was Sciué. Their Yaletown location has erected a tent and is seating would-be cafe goers outdoors, under covered, kept warmed by heat lamps. And as soon as the weather gets sunnier, these plastic walls will come down, and their tables over cobblestone will become a hot spot.

With a handful of locations available, I am surprised that I am only just now visiting the chain. Everything is available for point and order within the cafe. Stacks of sandwiches, towers of dessert bars, and rectangular pizza available by the slice. We would start with their challenge pizza, and the reason why we came down in the first place, then explore the rest of the menu a la carte.

Their pizza is authentic Roman Style Pizza, similar to those found in the pizzerias of Rome. It is notably cooked straight on stone to enhance its flavour, and is served by the weight you choose. In hindsight, I wish we tried more than just one of their pizza offerings, as it was definitely my favourite out of everything that we had.

The La Ligure Nera is available by the slice, or as a whole pizza to go. Created by their Chef, as a tribute to his hometown of Liguria, in the Italian region. This striking pie combines traditional ingredients like pesto, roasted potatoes, and green beans with mozzarella cheese and fresh basil; then piles it atop a charcoal activated dough. Visually, this one is stunning, a pizza with a crust like no other. The hue allows the greens to pop all the more. Not to mention, when was the last time you saw green beans on pizza? As a fan of this vegetable, this was an extra treat to eat. As for taste, it felt more like a flatbread than pizza. Great seasoned and tender vegetables pair with a slightly dry breading. Though truth be told, we came later in the day and didn’t want to put the staff out by getting them to make a fresh pizza for us. Especially when there was plenty waiting behind glass, only needing a reheating. Worth noting is that the highlight was the perfect olive oil and herb seasoned potatoes, and they are featured on their everyday brunch menu (from 8am-3pm). Worth visiting for more alone.

Seeing as they make all their bread/dough in house, I wanted to try one of their paninis. However they were out of chicken on this day, and my first and second options were off the table. So instead we took their suggestion and went for the Focaccia Al Crudo. House made rosemary focaccia with proscuitto crudo, bocconcini, and mixed greens. It is toasted to order for melty cheese and crispy bread. Although, I wished that they added the greens in after the toasting so that they wouldn’t be wilted as they were here. This was my second favourite menu item of the night.

Ideally, I wanted to pair the above with one of their soups for dipping into. I was hoping for a rich and creamy, tangy tomato based one; and thought that was what I was getting with their minestrone soup of the day. However, it turns out that what I was imagining was the North American take on the classic soup. Whereas the traditional Italian version is sans tomato and is a more cabbage focused broth with plenty of hearty boiled vegetables resting at the bottom. Sadly no good for dipping, and not for me. Maybe more salt and seasoning would have helped in this regard?

Similar in critique was the Nonna Maria Lasagna. A beef lasagna with mozzarella, parmesan, bechamel, and Sciué’s rustic tomato sauce. It was cozy and comforting with its softened texture. Whereas I prefer a more flavourful bake with additional salt and seasoning; coupled with firmer noodles and crispier edges from burnt gooey cheese. This was good, but not quite what I was expecting. In hindsight I should have done some additional research, realizing this was not classic Italian style cuisine, but Roman instead?

And when visiting a more authentic Italian restaurant, you must not leave without trying their coffee. A couple of fulsome lattes with stunning art hit the spot.

In short, this is a fantastic option for a quick and tasty bite, with great service and a lovely set up in Yaletown. I will definitely have to return to try their brunch menu and pick up more of their fun Italian candy that taste like liquor, without the actual alcohol content.

Sciué Yaletown
126 Davie Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2V4
(604) 689-7263

Planetary Burger

Looking for a quick bite on Main Street, we stumbled upon and in to Planetary Burger, know for their plant-based burger, fries, and shakes. The smaller shoppe is ideal for take out and go, as your neighbourhood fast food option, without the excess grease.

Their menu is on the smaller side with 4 salad options, 5 choices in shakes made from cashew or coconut milk, 4 types of burgers, and 3 differently dressed type of fries; plus 4 new sides. We ordered 2 burgers and 3 sides to get a good scope of their menu, taking it all home to eat.

The Cauli Spice burger was a cauliflower and chickepea patty seasoned with cumin and parsley, topped with chipotle mayo. Each burger also comes with lettuce, tomato, onions, and red relish. The patty had a good substantial chew to it, with a nice zesty flavour. And as a whole, the burger ate hearty and finished with a spicy note at its end.

The Shroom Dip was bland by comparison. Mushrooms, roasted garlic, oregano, and caramelized onions; topped with garlic mayo and a side of gravy. The latter was completely necessary for flavour and sumptuousness. Other than that, this was not so memorable, I preferred the sides below as a meal, instead.

The Chili Cheeze Fries were crispy fries topped with chili, shredded cheeze (vegan), and green onion. I liked how fresh they ate and how similar their vegan rendition of chilli ate to ground beef.

Just as tasty was the Poutine, prepared with more crispy fries, gravy, shredded cheeze, and green onion. It begins with quality ingredients and you could taste the quality in the potatoes used. Most surprising was how stringy and creamy the dairy-free cheeze ate.

Taste wise, the Fried Brussels Sprouts topped with dairy-free parm, avocado drizzle and green onion was my favourite out of the lot. However I just wanted them cut down to smaller bites, for a more even distribution of vegetable to creamy sauce.

Overall this was a great option for vegan fast food, that ate like it, but didn’t taste like it.

Planetary Burger
3088 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5T 3G5
(604) 873-2559

Canadian 2 for 1 Pizza

As soon as I heard that Canadian 2 for 1 Pizza was offering a durian pizza, I had to bee-line it towards their Richmond location for a try. As a tropical girl, and a fan of the uniquely pungent fruit, I am always in search of having durian in new and exciting applications. From liquor to ice cream, candy and cookies, the latest durian makeover is for pizza.

Walking into the small store front you are forced to smell the gasoline-like fragrance of the fruit. There is no masking it behind the corrugated cardboard box it comes in. The pizza is basically the traditional base with bready crust, a little marinara, and cheese to start. Then dollops of pulled durian fruit scattered around to finish.

Having it fresh and warm, you get more of the regular savoury cheese flavour from your pizza. Allowing it to cool or sit overnight in the fridge before biting down, gives you a more sweet durian flavour. This isn’t one you would crave, but definitely one for the fans and one you won’t soon be forgetting. I highly recommend giving it a try as one of my new favourite durian applications to date.

The impressive taste above was enough to have me returning the week after. Back again, but this time to try their some of their regular offerings. If such an oddity was so good, then what they sell on the regular should be that much better, no?

When it comes to pizza they have all the regular offerings of pepperoni, Hawaiian, and deluxe. However, in order to get a true taste of their abilities I went for “The Ultimate”, which came with a warning online. Declared only for those with an appetite, and I can see why. Pretty much all the available toppings seem to have made it on to one pizza, and it works. Pepperoni, ham, sausage, shrimp, mushroom, green peppers, tomatoes, red onions, olives, and pineapple; all over the classic marinara sauce base with melted cheese. Guaranteed to leave you feeling full, this laundry list all works. Fresh ingredients and a flavourful recipe made up the foundation of a pretty stand out pie.

However, it was the sides that impressed me more. I wasn’t expecting the likes of fried chicken and potato wedges to be as good as they were from a pizza place, but they were, if not better. The “Broaster” chicken is honestly one of the best fried chickens I have had to date, in the Lower Mainland. It delivers on its printed promise of being “fresh, tender & juicy”. And it indeed “flat out tastes better than ordinary fried chicken”. And the reason is, “Broasted chicken” is oil fried, within a pressure fryer. Have devoured my dark meat drum, I would recommend Canadian 2 for 1 Pizza for the chicken alone.

And what is fried chicken without a potato side to accompany it. And these wedges were the perfect pairing. Like the chicken, they are crispy on the outside, with a soften centre. Plenty of flavour and the perfect amount of salt. Good as is, but great with ketchup to help change the taste, as needed.

In short, don’t let the name fool you, more than just pizza. With pizza worth paying full price for. I have already said it, but here it is again: the name does not do them justice.

Canadian 2 for 1 Pizza
108-8531 Alexandra Rd, Richmond, BC V6X1C3
(604) 270-9999

Fighter Chicken

As we enter year two of the pandemic, we are seeing the world adjust. With the shuttering of many restaurants we are also witnessing the opening of new fast food places and more quick and easy takeout establishments. And here is another one to add to the list.

Not much is more comforting, and can satisfy the masses like fried chicken. It’s one of those foods that doesn’t discriminate between ages or ethnicities. If you like chicken, then chances are you like it fried. And at Fighter Chicken, they are setting themselves apart with their halal, free run, and antibiotic free fried chicken. And not just chicken, they also have a slew of sides and burgers to satisfy any fast food specific craving.

I visited with Joyce of @monkeyeatsworld fame, as we have made it a point to try all the fried chicken that the Lower Mainland has to offer. Plus, this way we were able to try so much more of their menu between us: 2 burgers, 2 fried items, and 2 sides.

You bee-line it right down to their counter at the far back, to order. And linger until it is packed up and ready to go.

I wasn’t immediately impressed by the pale colouring of the breading on the chicken, and even less so on the fish. Luckily it didn’t translate. The chicken was clean and crispy without that heavy oil taste. And it impressively stayed that way, well after our food cooled. And it was still good the next day when I reimagined them as leftovers. It just wasn’t as juicy as how I would have preferred it. And the seasoning felt flat.

Similarly the fish held up, but left me wanting more. The breading remained in tact, hiding chunks of quality, flakey white fish under its thick layering. But as fresh tasting as both the chicken and fish were, I couldn’t help but feel they were missing a sauce or dip. We received a small container of sweet chilli sauce and a brown hoisin-like sauce, but they didn’t really suite. I had hoped for gravy with the chicken and a tartar for the fish. Something to add another layer to either, when you are on piece 2 and ketchup just doesn’t cut it. Especially as you have already squeezed as much as you can out from the packets and smothered it on the yam fries.

The yam fries were really great for fast food quality. Another clean deep fry that was more firm yam than crispy breading, which happens to be how I like it. But a mayonnaise based aioli or better yet, your choice of dips would have been ideal. Not only would it be a draw, but it would have me leaning towards ordering it again.

The popcorn chicken was a better side, although it tasted like all the other chicken items we had. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but they could have added a zesty or spicy seasoning over this, thus making it completely new and different.

I liked the buttery buns used on their burgers, they added a nice contrast with their slightly sweetened taste. Other than that it was your standard lettuce, tomato, and onion assembly with a handsome amount of mayo. All of which was necessary to add freshness to an otherwise heavy handheld. Pickles and a slaw would have helped here. Or even some tangy mustard.

Similarly, the fish burger echoed the same sentiment. Heavy with a peppery mayonnaise. This was not what I was expecting, as I don’t think I ever had a fish burger without the tangy pickling of a tartar sauce, which I kept craving here.

In short, this isn’t your typical North American style fried chicken place. It has Chinese influences and nuances, and if you can keep that in mind, it is nice to have what feels like a healthier fried chicken option, amongst all the giant chains.

Fighter Chicken
8631 Granville St, Vancouver, BC V6P 5A2
(604) 225-9518

Vermouth Martini presents Como Taperia

Missing the small plate sharing, tapas scene I was happy to be able to cease the craving today with Como Taperia, a Spanish tapas restaurant I have been meaning to check out.

I was gifted 2 boxes for 2 to go. Each equipped with 2 self mixed cocktails, 6 small plates, and a dessert. The goal was to showcase Martini Vermouth, and how it pairs well as a digestive for traditional Italian food. Plus how easy it is to mix in a variety of simple cocktails, making it great on this casual weekday with its lower alcohol content.

Martini Vermouth has been made in Pessione, Torino, Italy; the original city of the Italian Aperitivo for over 150 years. Martini Vermouth’s secret recipe with over 500 botanical samples is created at the discretion of their master blender for quality & consistency year over year. (As taken from Martini’s press release).

I would take my boxed goodies over to my friend’s place and bring girl’s night out, in. Some assembly was required as two dishes needed a good pan fry, and they were best when done right before eating. When done, we re-plated and brought everything together on a handsome tapas board with our Martini Dry cocktails.

The first of the latter was the V&T, made with Martini Dry spirit, cucumber bitters, and Indian tonic. You basically mix everything together over ice and garnish with cucumber slices. This was a refreshing and easy to drink cocktail. It made for a great start as an aperitif, and paired well with all the dishes to follow.

The second cocktail was SL’s Negroni 4.0, made with Martini Bianco, Lumette N/A gin, Wood Ciaro Amaro, and orange. Another easy mixer, but with a more complex flavour. We got woodsy and floral notes that evolved the more we put lips to glass. This served as a great drink to cleanse the palette with, and to end our sumptuous meal on.

The Shishito Peppers required a toss in the pan before eating. Such blistered green peppers are a staple at most tapas bars in Spain. You add oil to hot pan, over medium heat, then cook the peppers until they start blistering. Finally finishing them off with quality sea salt. These were so simple, yet turned out to be my favourite items in the box. I will have to buy some of these peppers myself and repeat this again at home. Or I can always just get it done perfectly from Como. I guess that is one of many reasons to actually try their dine in service.

Similarly the Jamon croquettes needed some time frying in a pan, before eating. Each log was stuffed with jamon iberico and breaded, then bound in a rich sauce. To get each golden brown and crispy, we heated vegetable oil in a pan, searing each side until the desired colour; making sure to not leave them in the oil for too long, otherwise they would explode. To finish, you dry them on paper towel to blot oil and cool. This was my second favourite small plate. They served as the only carb, and a much needed element to round out our meal with. Whereas a loaf of crusty buttered bread to use as dip and a base for the following would have been ideal. Especially with the octopus below and all its seasonings and herbs.

As for the croquettes they were crispy on the outside and had the texture of whipped mashed potatoes on the inside, speckled with the salty ham. It ate deliciously as is, but I couldn’t help but want a tangy dip to coat it in. All the flavours of these breaded sticks melds together, giving you a nice full taste of the ham, and not just cheese that over powers.

The rest are served room temperature, like the Gordal olives. These big and juicy olives were imported from Spain. With plenty of juicy flesh, these weren’t too salty. They were great to nibble on, and served as a fine pairing with our first cocktail as a rejuvenating agent.

We got more olives with the Glida. The classic Gilda is a simple assembly of guindilla (a type of chilli pepper), anchovies and olives, topped with quality Spanish olive oil. You eat it all in one go and get a burst of flavour for our efforts. Salty and tangy, this one will be good with a full bodied red wine.

The Goats cheese stuffed peppers offered some much needed sweetness to the assembly (outside of the dessert). Peppadew peppers stuffed with citrus whipped goat cheese. The sweetness of pepper and salty rich cheese meld well together.

The Galician style octopus was slowly poached then grilled, served with yellow German potatoes, anchovy verde, olive oil, and pimenton. This too was served at room temperature. Saucy with the oil and flavourful with the seasonings, you fully made out the texture and flavour of the cephalopod; and went back for more bite after bite.

For dessert we had the Arron Con Leche. This ate like a fun oatmeal, topped with juicy peach slices. Mildly sweet with a nice porridge-like texture it served as a great way to cleanse our palettes and end our meal on a satisfying note.

All together the food was on point, and everything paired well with everything else, and the drinks. This teaser taste definitely deserves a second go with a dine-in at the actual restaurant. I got a look around when I picked up my order, and noted how cozy the space was, and how the decor cleverly incorporated marketplace goods for sale. All definitely deserving of a repeat, Martini Dry drinks and all.


Como Taperia
201 E 7th Ave, Vancouver, BC V5T 0B4
(604) 879-3100

Mooby’s Pop Up Vancouver

This St. Patrick’s day there isn’t much to do. With the pandemic lingering and an imposed alcohol sales curfew in place, many like myself aren’t celebrating the traditional way. (Traditional as in bar hopping and green beer drinking). So @monkeyeatsworld and I got our tickets to Vancouver’s latest pop ups. With so little going on socially, the chance to attend a unique event could not be missed. Naturally there was a premium for the experience, one we deemed worthy of patronage for novelty alone.

Hosted at the side lobby of the spacious Dublin Calling bar, they are making the most of the space. Fans of the movie references will appreciate the nostalgia. For those who don’t know, Mooby’s is the infamous fictional restaurant from Kevin Smith’s movies: Jay & Silent Bob and Clerks. To visit them you need to choose your meal and book your pick up time in advance. The “restaurant” is a counter where you pick up from. At the back splash a Jay & Silent Bob movie plays in silence. The rest of the decor is accurate to the movie, with purple walls that matched the Mooby packaging, their menu posted up, and a counter stamped with their mascot.

Each ticket is $22, it includes a Mooby’s Meal with your selections of a Moo Main + Salt Lick Side. Vegan & non-vegan options are available. Admittedly, this is pricy for a combo that doesn’t include drinks. And even though there is purple Mooby meal boxes and paper cups, they aren’t used for your meal. The branded merchandise is extra. $6 for the box, that I guess doubles as a collector’s item. Similarly, they also have cans relabeled as Mooby Beer. And if you want the whole shebang, they also have Mooby tee shirts, hoodies, and toques for sale.

Dining in isn’t an option, so we took our food in its paper bag to a local park.

Joyce got the vegan Beyond Burger Cow Tipper burger. This is 2 Beyond smashed patties, vegan cheese, pickle, chopped onion, and their MOOBY’s sauce. She finished her burger, but was left hungry. It wasn’t anything outstanding, just a run of a mill vegan burger.

My burger was similar: a standard patty and bun. This is the Cock Smoker Chicken Sandwich, and I ate it with gusto, given the quality of the chicken used. There was nothing wrong with it, but you just are expecting something with more personality, given the setting. Maybe something more sumptuous that a stoner would love, given the reference? At least my burger was saucy and tasty, dressed with plenty of hot sauce and mayo on top of buttermilk fried chicken and crispy slaw.

For sides we got the Onion Rings to rule them all. Another good, but nothing remarkable menu item. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was from frozen.

The same goes for the Hater Totz. Clean and crispy with the necessity for ketchup.

In short, this one is for the fans. Or for those who want to emerge themselves in another world, a more simpler world. This was a quick and fun way to escape an afternoon of reality.

Mooby’s pop up

Kings Kitchen 京東, Peking duck special

I was surprised to learn that there is an authentic Hong Kong style restaurant downtown Vancouver; on the Granville Entertainment strip, of all places. Given the location, lack of parking, and immediate demographic, this is unexpected and definitely one of a kind in this area.

Naturally, the one to discover this gem is the knowledgeable Chinese cuisine enthusiast, @pickydiner. So I was excited to not only check this place out for the very first time, but to indulge in their new promotion: a Peking Duck feast, with him.

Starting on March 17th and running until March 28th, you and 3 in your bubble can indulge in a 6 course meal for $99. In doing so you are gifted a $50 gift voucher to put towards your next meal with them. Reason to come back and try the rest of their delicious menu. Be warned the special does require 24 hour notice, as it takes time to prepare a whole duck so thoroughly.

This is Cantonese style Peking duck, inspired by Peking’s traditional Peking duck. Where as the latter puts on a show, slicing it in front of you, and presenting the most uniform pieces of duck skin, this is the more speedy version. Quick and causal, Cantonese style Peking duck comes with all the classic accoutrements: the thin pancake, sweet bean sauce, and spring onion. You assemble each wrap yourself and eat it with gusto. This is a sumptuous dish that somehow always leaves me wanting more.

The actual duck meat is chopped up small, and mixed with crispy noodles and diced vegetables; to be used as a filling for a crispy and fresh lettuce wrap, with the same sweet bean sauce as above. Tie is one that leaves you wanting more. No other flavours and dishes like this.

The duck’s bones are used to make a duck soup with lettuce and tofu. This is a truly satisfying soup that warms you inside out. For those unfamiliar, the pile of bones on the side of the murky broth soup can be unappealing, but for those who grew up eating such bone broth soups, having the meat on the side allows you to easily gnaw on them with a dash of soy sauce.

Still hungry? They have you covered with the rest of the feast. Classic Chinese dishes done wonderfully with quality ingredients and bold flavours.

If you are just coming in for one dish, let it be the sweet and sour pork. Each juicy nugget of crispy pork is heavily coated in a sticky neon red sauce, along with coloured peppers, onions, and pineapple for freshness. Great as is, but better with rice to help soak up all that gooey sauce.

When at a Chinese restaurant, why go for plain white rice when you can have it fried with shrimp, bbq pork, and veggies. Yet another classic done well, that did not disappoint. This dish also rounds out the meal, to ensure you leave utterly full.

Looking for something lighter, the fish and green peas dish offers a break. Crispy vegetables and fish that easily melts under the thick clear gravy.

Overall, this is a great feast and easy to order for those who are familiar or unfamiliar with Chinese cuisine. Where else can you find something so authentic downtown Vancouver? Not to mention the terrific promotion to get your through the door.

Kings Kitchen 京東
1149 Granville St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 1M1
(778) 379-0538

Happy Singh Street Eats

Looking for more food after our initial meal, we ventured across the street to Happy Singh, a fast food restaurant serving Indian street food.

Walking in, I didn’t know what to expect. But simply taking it all in from the threshold it quickly became an exciting experience. The decor is modern and fresh, the space large and inviting. The accessibility of it all, made more welcoming by the helpful staff and a picture focused menu that made Indian food approachable for those unfamiliar. Point in case came from the heavy rotation of ethnicities that ventured in after us, and ordered to go.

You place your desired order through a kiosk, and it prints out your receipt and individual order slips, after payment. You then take said slips to the appropriate counter, where an employee assembles your order. When ready your order number is televised and you are beckoned to pick up your food on a plastic tray. From there you assemble all your dishes at your chosen table and eat.

The following is what we had, based on my guest’s preference and suggestions. All except for the Bun samosa cocktail, which I had to try out of novelty sake. It is exactly what it looks like: a potato samosa sandwiched between a bun with a smear of mint chutney and tamarind chutney. It tasted okay, but it could have been better. The bun was incredibly oily on its exterior. Although the samosa was good, it wasn’t enough to be the main filling of this burger. I needed a different texture to maw through, some pickled vegetable or a protein, if not just more of either chutney spread. Even the side of regular potato chips and ketchup packet would have help as a filling.

I liked the pageantry put into their drinks, from the use of the glass milk bottle, to the striped straw, and the finishing touches in the form of a salted rim and sprinkled dollop of whipped cream.

The Mango peach original is a blended smoothie with the likes of mango and peach fruit. Creamy and rich, it is sweet enough to be considered a dessert. The Gajar halwa badam shake is a delicious carrot and almond Indian dessert, blended and made into a shake. I enjoyed this the most out of the three we ordered. The Tamarind peach lassi is more yogurt focused, and therefore a lot more tangier than the other two shakes above. Not a lot of peach flavour, and you don’t get much tamarind outside of the rim.

My favourite dish that we had, had to be the Gol gappa. I have had it before from other restaurants, but I have always just mixed and matched the water and ingredients myself. So to have it done with a perfect ratio, by someone who knows what they are doing, makes a world of difference. The crispy, hollow round is broken into. You then carve out a hole and fill it with the accompanying ingredients. Then finish by pouring in the mint and/or tamarind flavoured water to your tastes. Then in one bite you take it all into your mouth, and with lips closed bite down. The result, a flood of flavoured water married with a crispy crunch. Both fun and tasty to eat.

The Pau baji is popular in Mumbai. It is a mashed vegetable curry seasoned with lime and onions. Served with two buttered buns, it reminded me of an Indian sloppy joe. The veggie mix even had a chunky meaty quality to it. I just wished it had more salt and seasoning to it.

The Tawa tikki is potato croquettes seasoned with Indian spices. Served topped heavy with a mint cilantro chutney, sweet chutney, beaten yogurt, and onion. It ate like a potato salad, you only need to do all the mixing yourself. This had a great assembly of contrasting flavours and textures, from the spicy chutney to the cooling yogurt, and refreshing pomegranate. Finished with a nice crispy topping.

The great thing about ordering all these small plates and sharing them amongst a group is that not only do you get to try them all, but you also get to mix and match flavours and sauces from all the dishes, as they are all complimentary.

In short, this was a fun place for causal Indian snacks and food. An approachable menu and friendly staff makes this a great place to learn and try more of the cuisine. I recommend it for tasty eats and a good time!

Happy Singh
8821 120 St, Delta, BC V4C 6R6
(778) 578-6666

Saravana Bhavan

On a whim my guests and I decided to go out for an early dinner after work. Seeing as we were in the area by Surrey, and I don’t often get out there, let alone know where a good place to go for Indian food is; We decide to go to one of my guest’s favourite vegetarian Indian spot. Here, I would get a crash course in South Indian cuisine.

Two of us arrived early and were forced to wait for our third party member to arrive. In the meanwhile we decided to grab a couple of drink to pass the time. We had to ask for the drink menu despite the bar being so prominent in the dining area. Then when we had questions, the gentleman who seated us wasn’t able to explain what went into any given cocktail. And simply excused himself saying that the bartender was on break and it would only be a 5 minute wait in order to order a drink.

20 minutes later we were still waiting. The gentlemen never cared enough to return to check in on us. We weren’t asked if we wanted to order anything else as we waited. When a young girl finally arrived, we were no longer in the mood or interested in getting a drink. The service soured our experience and the lack of care explained the decor. The entirety of the restaurant seemed unkept. From the waving Santa figure by the door in March, with the matching Christmas orbs to match. To the giant slouching teddy bear and empty bar, lacking bottles.

Nonetheless my friend vouched for the food and agreed that the service culture isn’t there. The following is what we ordered as recommended by her: traditional South Indian dishes. All three are basically dough focused items used for dipping.

Idly steamed rice and lentil patties served with chutney, sambar, and idly podi. Dry and cakey, these were tasteless rounds that you peel and dip into either the spiced vegetable side, the spicy sauce, the cooling coconut mix, the refreshing mint one, or the tangy tamarind dip. Or all of the above, all together, as our host recommended. The sensation of using your hands to eat is certainly part of the experience, added with the option of mixing and matching flavours.

The Onion masala dosa is a thin rice and lentil crepe stuffed with mashed potatoes and onions. My guest recommended unrolling the crispy crepe then smearing the filling evenly across it, before rolling it back up and pinching off what you want. Smaller bites to dip into the same assembly of sauces above. Similar flavours, but with a greater crisp in the base, and a more filling entree overall.

I liked the Channa batura the most. This was a large puffed fried bread served with a chickpea stew. It comes looking like a pillow, but quickly deflates. It has a similar feel to roti; where you pull, peel and use it as a base to the bounty of chickpeas on the side. The latter was incredibly tasty, but a little more on the spicy side for me. The side slices of cucumber and green onion did help to add some freshness and beat the heat.

As a whole, it was a great experience to try these dishes, although I wouldn’t necessarily travel all the way for this, and would rather give my business to a place that is more appreciative of it.

Saravana Bhavan
8701 120 St, Delta, BC V4C 6R4
(778) 578-7575

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