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Category: Burnaby Page 1 of 14

#Mijune x Chez Christophe Collaboration 2020

For those who don’t know her, Mijune Pak is local Vancouverite food blogger turned TV judge, and now chocolatier.

Our very own television personality has teamed up with local favourite,
Swiss Chocolatier, Chez Christophe to release two limited edition chocolate centric treats. They are currently available on the shelves of Chez Christophe Patisserie in North Burnaby, until quantities last. Both scream Canadiana and speak to her home and native land with Canadian inspired packaging and flavour combinations.

The first is a Maple Syrup French Toast white chocolate bar. 34% white chocolate, 35% caramelized white chocolate, maple syrup, and French toast cookie to be exact. Unwrapping this is a treat in itself. With stunning packaging and a sweet (excuse the pun) message within. This heartfelt thanks is surrounded by linear drawings of Canada meets Switzerland (speaking to the heritage of the chocolate). A sketch of mountains to cityscapes and the farms and lakes in between.

The chocolate itself is segregated to align to the mountain peaks of the cardboard wrap. This gives you a stunning visual, but inconsistent prices to break off. But no matter, you are going to end up eating more than you anticipated any how. It’s that good. And then there is the sweet spray painted maple leaf outline detail. A fun homage. As for taste, the white chocolate isn’t too sweet (coming from a person who doesn’t like too many sweets). It is well balanced by the fragrant maple syrup notes. The cookie adds texture and crunch for some mouth interest. A delicious bar I would purchase again for myself, and as a gift for others. And this says a lot as I am not typically a fan of chocolate in general. Although if it has to be chocolate, it has to be white chocolate.

And if you are only going to get one of these two limited edition releases, it has to be the Neapolitan Baked Alaska Snowball. This show stopper is an activity and dessert all rolled into one (yes, I like puns). A gradient: red to pink, and to white round with black speckles dispersed throughout. The viral challenge attached to this, is finding clever and artistic ways to crack into the piñata ball of sorts.

Within, is a bevy of tiny chocolate balls, nuggets of chocolate covered marshmallows, and chunks of cookies and freeze dried strawberries. Once again the chocolate and flavours are well balanced. It isn’t too sweet and every element just sings in harmony. If half the fun is breaking into it, the other half is exploring its insides. This is a great reward for any kid or adult. And for a lucky few, if your ball contains a magic ticket, you win a dessert experience with Mijune herself!

Chez Christophe
4717 Hastings St, Burnaby, BC V5C 2K8
(604) 428-4200
chez-christophe.ca

Liuyishou Hot Pot, virtual hot pot party

It has been a month since we all began staying at home, and all non essential businesses have shuttered down. All in order to slow down and possibly suppress the spread of Covid-19. As a result, the restaurant and hospitality industries, built on gathering people and socializing in person, have taken a major hit. Only now are we seeing more solutions and people supporting their favourites food stops, as there doesn’t seem to be a sign of this landscape changing any time soon. So it is uplifting to see restaurants that are open, and looking to different promotions and themes in order to entice diners to take out and eat at home.

This is especially the case for such social dining experience like hot pot. In an era that requires one to distance themselves and not share fluids or air, getting together and sharing a meal that gets cooked out of the same pot for all, seems like out of the question. However this popular Chinese hot pot chain has come up with a promotional special that takes all the work out of preparing a hot pot feast, while allowing yourself to enjoy with immediate family members or yourself. Our group would fall into the latter category, choosing to enjoy our hot pot individually, but together, virtual.

 

This is a recap of our delivery and hot pot dinner experience. To skip the reading, and learn some tips for a successful hot pot, visit the link below for my latest YouTube video.

With locations in Downtown Vancouver, Burnaby, and Richmond; Liuyishou has delivery covered. The corresponding location will prepare your meal and pack it all up to go for contactless delivery. They will leave the packages by your door for you to retrieve and sanitize at home. Each order includes a card that has the employee who prepared and packed your meal sign off on their well being; which includes an up to date temperature read. This is to help create peace of mind for those who are weary, but want to support such businesses with a delivery order.

And then, all you need is a heat source, like a portal propane stove, and if you don’t have that, your stove top would work in a pinch. You will also need their special split pot to enjoy two broths at once,  here they have you covered. With any order over $100 they throw one in for you, and it includes ladles that will help in the scooping process, once the food is cooked.

The set I enjoyed was the Hot pot combo for 2 for $78. A deal that was reduced from $118. To this I had add-ons, to better round out the meal: rice and a few sides, including fresh fruit for dessert.

The meal is set, but there are a few customizations that you can make. Like which of the two soup bases you want to start off with. I skipped the spicy one and the pork bone for something a little more mild to build on. The “Wild mushroom soup base” came with Chinese herbs. The enoki and sliced shiitake bobbing about was a nice bonus, in addition to the following ingredients that I would boil up with it. For good measure, I also ordered additional mushrooms to drop in and cook.

But my favourite of my two broths was the “Tomato soup base”. What looked like a spicy neon red serving was delicious in rich tomatoey flavour. It added its essence to everything it touched, whereas the other broth barely left a trace.

Worth noting is that, seeing as you are not dining in, you won’t get servers checking in on you, offering to top up your broth. So when doing this for yourself at home, the easiest solution is to add water when your broth boils down, or chicken stock if you have any handy.

Although regardless of the broth, your hot pot meat and vegetables do end up tasting like the sauce you dip them in to anyways. With the set you get your choice of two sauces. But here, I went a little overboard asking for a lot more. The sesame oil, sesame paste, chilli oil, minced garlic, green onion, cilantro, etc. A variety of mixes help to elongate your experience: changing the flavour as needed.

The combo includes 300g of sliced marinated beef and a 300g sliced Australian lamb. Both perfectly packed in the same curls that you would get when dining in. They definitely focus on presentation regardless of takeout, and the use of plastic disposable containers.

Especially seen with their “House special shrimp paste”. A pate of sorts that you ball up and add into the broth to boil up. It is set to look like a thumbs up shape, in honour of Liuyishou’s logo. This was one of my favourite ingredients, a great flavour and an enjoyable texture.

Speaking of texture, the next collection was the “Chongqing hot pot specialities” with House special beef tripe, Beef aorta, and Classic duck blood cube. Being a novice to all three, I was happy to have my virtual lunch mates walk me through the appropriate cooking time for each.

The tripe only needed 7 seconds, much like the thin slices of red meat. The result, a soft and rubbery chew. Although speaking from experience, over cooking it does not make it inedible. The aorta slices looked like calamari rings with a similar texture, a quick dip and it was ready to enjoy like cartilage. The duck blood cube was a little out there for me, a delicacy I couldn’t get my head around. It was a solid formed slice of blood, that didn’t melt after it was boiled. It retained its jello-like jiggle with a similar mouth feel. I have never had anything like it.

More familiar is the vegetable platter that included Potato slices. Potato purposely cut thick so that they wouldn’t disintegrate when left in boiling soup. I passed on the Crown daisy and Chinese cabbage, not enjoying the texture or the taste of wilted leafy greens. I also find that their flavour tends to dominate the broth once added. My favourite was the kelt knots, another great chew and texture to maw through.

On top of other hot pot fixings, you can also order off of Liuyishou’s appetizer menu. I highly recommend their fried rice, if you are like me and enjoy a starchy base with your meat and vegetable hot pot.

In terms of drinks, I highly recommend beer with your hot pot. Like with spicy foods and salty bar offerings, beer is great with dishes that have plenty of flavour. And if you are enjoying a glass, you can also order some edamame to pair with it as a munching snack; and way to catch your second wind. Hot pot is about eating slowly and enjoying the cooking process while socializing. Social distancing provides a challenge, but video conferencing your friends is a great solution.

For more details on how you can order this delicious set for a fun night in, visit the link below and check out our live hot pot party video!

Liuyishou
5507 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H 2G3
(604) 559-9888
https://www.liuyishouna.com/

Pokey Okey, Burnaby

Rejoice fans of “Pokey Okey”, you no longer need to travel all the way to Richmond to get your fresh fish and vegetable fix over rice in a bowl. Their second location is now open in Burnaby, just past Metrotown. A small shop with limited seating, no tables, and plenty of containers to take your poke to go.

Due to this being their soft launch they were only offering 3 types of poke today. Each is colour coded based on a feature ingredient, making it pretty easy to differentiate between the three. Therefore, I won’t be able to cover the entirety of their menu in this post, not until they are officially open the last weekend of February, leading into March.

You order at the counter and can watch your bowl being assembled before your eyes. Rice and/or greens first, salad and pickled vegetable next, followed by seasoned seafood, and crunchy toppings. All with multiple sauces drizzled over, at various layers.

The “yellow bowl” was bright and sunny with chunks of ripe mango, a pineapple salsa, sweet corn kernels, a sweet omelette, and a puffed tempura topping; along side non yellow items like spicy salmon, scallop salad, seaweed salad, pickled onions, and seaweed flakes over salad greens and your choice of brown or white rice.

The “red bowl” got its name from the chunks of spicy salmon, ahi tuna, kimchi, bacon bits; and an eye catching, perfectly round scoop of flying fish roe. The non red items included seaweed salad, purple cabbage, pickled carrot and radish, with seaweed flakes over more leafy greens and white or brown rice.

The “green bowl” had plenty of soy beans, wasabi peas and seaweed salad; along side ahi tuna, salmon, purple cabbage, pickled onions, seaweed flakes, wasabi mayo, and capelin roe. The tiny fish eggs were a showstopper for me, they had me favouring the two bowls they crowned.

And this weekend you can get anyone of the above for free! Just head down to “Pokey Okey” Burnaby for your free bowl February 29th and March 1st. And while you are there, be sure to tag their pink wall with some chalk art!

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.
I liked what I had today as their most popular bowls, but would definitely like to come back to try the full extent of their actual menu before making any judgements. Especially as this was my first time visiting their brand. (Haven’t been to the Richmond location yet.) Don’t deny your cravings.

POKEY OKEY
4919 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H 2E5
(604) 423-9339
pokeyokey.com

Hakkaku Ramen, revisit

It has been many years since my last visit to this long standing ramen shoppe, in Burnaby. It was over 5 years ago, and with so many other options in the area and in general, I guess I never found a reason to return. However, today the weather was weary and my friend and I were wanting something comforting to warm up with. She is particular in her restaurant choices, but boldly declared that this as her go-to for ramen in our neighbourhood.

A single, traditional Japanese lantern hangs outside, marking the way. Inside, the restaurant is configured slightly differently than from what I remembered. Smaller tables with plenty of space in between one another. Outside of the giant oriental fan on the wall and the few pieces of art hanging from the bar, there wasn’t much to the decor. It was similar to their menu, straightforward and to the point.

The menu was written in English and kanji, kept safe behind plastic sheet protectors. Offered on it were the main ramen staples of shio, shoyu, and and miso; as well as five specialty broths all their own. And with each you have a choice between a regular or rich version of the broth, and the topping of pork chasu in either shoulder or belly cut.

My guest got her usual “shio ramen” and liked it just fine with the regular broth. The bowl typically comes with chashu, bean sprouts, lettuce, fish cake, green onion, and seaweed. But my she had her’s with only the soft boiled egg and chashu in shoulder meat. The meat was lean and cut thick, but not tough. And even with the regular broth it was still fairly rich and flavourful.

She also added on the “shrimp cake” under additional toppings. It was a different option, not offered anywhere else that I have been to. Although the two flattened patties had a taste that overpowered. And I couldn’t help but liken them to the shrimp loaf that you find in the dim sum dumpling, ha gao. It tasted okay, but I didn’t find that it paired well with the mild salt flavoured pork bone broth.

I preferred and was surprised by their “Tomato ramen”. Tomato, bean sprouts, onion, corn, fish cake, green onion, boiled egg, and chashu in my chosen cut of pork belly. The belly meat had a great fatty char to it. It was the decadence I wanted, along side the rich version of the pork broth. And the tomato flavour added kicked things up a notch. Its tangy quality somewhat reminded me of canned tomato soup. Warming and satisfying, although it did get fairly rich, and I found myself reaching for more tea than usual with this one. And luckily my cup was never half empty thanks to their caring staff.

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.
Not my first choice for ramen, but not one I would shy away from either. Made wholesome and served by what looked like 3 generations of women. Simple delight and much charm from this local eatery. Don’t deny your cravings.

HAKKAKU RAMEN
4530 East Hastings St., Burnaby, BC V5C 2K6
604-558-3386

Marutama Ramen Metrotown

Unpopular opinion: “I am not a fan of Marutama Ramen”.

Maybe it’s because I like being the odd man out, or maybe my taste buds are a skewed; but I am not a fan of the multi-location, ramen chain, “Marutama”. In fact they may very well be one of my last choices for ramen. But today we were in Burnaby, my guest had been craving a bowl of their chicken broth ramen, and I didn’t have the heart to say, “No”. Although, I did suggest dining at the neighbouring “Boiling Point” instead, due to their lack of a line.

However, the wait for “Marutama” wasn’t that long, and we only had to endure 5 minutes of it in the cold with all the others hungry folks. So there we stood patiently by the doorway, after having written our names down on a clipboard out front. We would stare into the all glass interior, watching lustfully as the tables turned over quite quickly.

This is the latest location of this popular chain, located is in the expanding area of Burnaby, just past Metrotown. Once home to a different ramen restaurant, the space didn’t feel all that much different now. Narrow tables meant to maximize seating, and the kitchen/bar towards the back. Well lit and warm, even despite us sitting by the door that regularly swung open, exposing us to the elements.

The menu is a one laminated sheet. It showcases their chicken broth and the variations of ingredients and noodles with it. With an egg, without, spicy, extra meat, or all of the above. At the base of it, it is all the same.

Remembering I wasn’t a fan of my first and most recent bowl, I ordered their signature bowl with creamy chicken broth, seaweed, and a whole soft boiled egg. It came with the maximum number of toppings for a more varied meal. I don’t find that the broth has enough flavour, the richness that I love in my favourite bowls of ramen was missing here. It felted watered down and it lacked interest. I would have also liked a thicker noodle, to offer a better balanced collection of textures to sort through. Something satisfying to gnaw on. With this it was small pieces of soften seaweed, a whole egg that was hard to ration out bite by bite, fatty slices of cha su, and thin wispy stands of noodles.

The table side condiments do help in curating your bowl. Between us we used 3/4 of their fried garlic slices. I was also heavy handed on the toasted sesame seeds, and torgarashi power. Yet I still couldn’t finish my serving. I found myself growing bored of the taste mid way.

Anticipating this, I ordered some gyozas to have something else to help change up the taste. They were your run-of-the-mill pork and vegetable filled dumplings. I knew exactly what I was going to get with this, and it delivered. A classic with a soy and vinegar dipping sauce.

Sorry, for those who have been offended by my opinion here. But I have had this a handful of times now, and can safely conclude that I don’t like their ramen. And in fact, I like them less after each subsequent visit. I can see why others love their chicken broth though. That there is quality and authenticity that goes into each bowl, everything is made fresh daily, without msg or imitation flavours, and its lighter nuance appeals to more individuals. The latter was the goal of its creator, based out of Japan. He wanted to create a bowl of ramen that would satisfy anyone from around the world, and given that chicken is one of those food items that majority of people like, this became his flagship product.

That being said, my guest like what she had just fine, cleaning her bowl it full satisfaction. She had the “Aosa ramen” with aosa seaweed, two pieces of cha su, and an egg she added on. She also requested it to be made spicy. Although truthfully in terms of ingredients, it was no different than mine, same seaweed and all.

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? – Yes.
Once again, I am not a fan of their chicken broth ramen, but will recommend it to those who like a lighter broth, and all the garlic chips they can stomach. Just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it. We don’t share the same mouth after all. Don’t deny your cravings.

MARUTAMA RA-MEN
5278 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H 2E9
(604) 430-3343
marutama.ca

SweetHoney Dessert

“Sweet Honey Desserts” is a cafe serving traditional Taiwanese desserts. This summer they have garnered much attention from their hyper realistic dog cakes. And now with two locations, you can visit them in either Burnaby or Richmond.

I have dined with them once before in Richmond, but after trying two desserts with little excitement I decided not to return. That was until I saw that they have new Christmas treats for the winter season. Riding the wave of success with their dog theme, they now have two more dawning Santa hats. And for me it is like collecting “Pokémon” in the augmented reality game, “Pokémon Go”. It is essentially the same chocolate dog, but now that it comes with a hat, I wanted it all over again.

So here I was, now at their Burnaby location getting a better second impression of this chain. A more favourable visit with some desserts I will return for. Located on Grimmer street, the area is quickly expanding with many like dessert and drink cafes. The shoppe is easy to spot with their entire menu pictured as decals splashed across the exterior. A collection of well groomed fluffy pancakes, rice balls, and fruit beverages.

The interior is fairly modern. Geometric shapes adhered on to a mirrored surface on one side of the room, and red and white striped wallpaper on the other. The dining area is spacious with plenty of room to move between lacquered table tops and cushy chairs. We were given our choice of seats and handed a stack of menus to peruse through.

The main menu was handsomely bounded, arranged by specific items, featuring plenty of glossy photos. A page for “durian lovers”, and two for those who like mango, grass jelly, and ice cream. For more traditional Chinese desserts look to their “tofu pudding series”, “rice ball series”, or “sago”. There was a lot or options, and a lot of overlap within each category. Though the photos definitely helped in the ordering process. For noting is that everything we had was exactly as pictured in the the photo.

We started with their Christmas specials. And what I thought was their ice cream dog cake with Santa hats, like below, was actual a solid chocolate puppy with a fondant hat. Not as realistic as the cake, but just as cute and as memorable. Plus they make for great stocking stuffers. They line the top of their refrigerated glass case in easy to take out plastic boxes with handles. But be warned the hat isn’t secured all that well to the top of the dog, and the dog isn’t stable on the cardboard base either.

As for the original dog dessert, the cake only comes in chocolate. A bull dog on his belly with pudgy arms and meaty legs outstretched, and a nub of a tail at his end. It comes right out of the freezer and has the white ice crystals to prove it. Said crystals highlights the detail in the dog’s coat well. I advise waiting for them to thaw and for the cake to start sweat a little, in order to be able to cut into it with ease. Honestly that is half the fun of this treat, to be able to slice into the dog and ruin the illusion as such. As for taste it is like a melty chocolate mousse. Not very rich, not very chocolatey. But if it had both of those characteristics, it would have been better for it. Great to have once for the novelty of saying that you have. But as for taste, you are better off with chocolate ice cream by the scoop.

Next was their soufflé pancake, holiday edition. They are the latest restaurant to offer this jiggly treat. The lightest pancake you will ever have, in a rendition that is especially eggy. This gave it a more savoury feel; one that I preferred, and was best highlighted by the salted cheese foam it cams in. The foam is very similar to the topping you can get crowning a bubble tea. Tasty. But sadly, the only thing festive about this was the fondant red and white Santa hat. The very same one used for the dogs above. The fruit on the side felt out of place and out of season. I would have liked green and red sprinkles instead. Although the papaya, mango, watermelon, and blueberries did offer a nice freshness, complimenting the salted foam and helping to balance the dessert as a whole. Except, I could make out the taste of durian in each of them. I guess they were all stored together, and that the very distinct and fragrant flavour of durian bleeds. And as for the Santa hat, it was horribly sweet with a tougher chew. Maybe not for eating. Its sugariness was overwhelming, but it did what I wanted it to visually.

As cute as these ideas were, I much rather their regular menu items. Desserts with great textures, that aren’t too sweet.

As a fan of durian, who is also too lazy to crack open the fruit herself, whenever I see it featured on the menu, I have to take advantage. I went for the “Durian Mochi”. There were three perfectly gummy rounds, well filled with durian fruit from Thailand. And rolled in shredded coconut. Deliciously done, but out of personal preference I would have been happier without the coconut, to be able to best enjoy the smooth texture of the mocchi and its hidden fruit centre. As a whole it was deliciously sweet yet mild enough for those who don’t necessarily like the flavour of durian. Plus we didn’t get any of the smell if you aren’t a fan of it either.

If you are looking for a great sticky chew, you have to try their rice balls. These are “Glutinous rice balls” sitting in a pool of syrup. The sweet liquid adds sweetness, and also helps in adhering the mix of crushed peanuts, sesame, and coconut flakes to your ball; when you dip into it at the centre of the bowl. But be sure to eat these first, the crushed nuts do get soggy quick; and as a result, you don’t get that great contrast in texture between gooey rice ball and crunchy peanuts.

But if you are looking for something more decadent, you can get your balls stuffed with black sesame, and served in a pool of split sesame and walnut soup. I loved the simple and clean presentation. Biting into a ball, it was an unexpected and delicious surprise to have a pool of liquid pour out in to your mouth. I just wish there were more rice balls, especially given how much sauce you get with an order; and it isn’t as great without something to dip into it. There was more than half of the blended colour soup left when we were done with it.

And during the last visit to their Richmond location, I also tried the “mango pomelo sago”. I expected something more like mango pudding in taste and texture. But this was thin and bland. There was enough mango flavour in the soup, and you wanted something more substantial to dip into and/or eat with it. Maybe more rice balls? Or larger tapioca pearls. Overall, I likened this to a watered down smoothie bowl.

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.
I highly recommend their rice ball series, and don’t know another restaurant that offers such an extensive array of it and durian themed desserts. And now with a location in Burnaby, I can visit them more often, and at my convenience. Don’t deny your cravings.

SWEETHONEY DESSERT
5358 Grimmer St, Burnaby, BC V5H 2H2
(604) 559-8599
weethoneydessert.com

Green Leaf Café

I enjoyed my visit to the Broadway location so much, that when looking for a place for dinner in Burnaby, I was more than happy to visit their original location. It is a larger space with a larger menu. Although, with so much on their menu worth exploring, I had to take in their restaurant twice, before writing this review.

The Burnaby location is definitely the largest property of the two. A restaurant that greets you with its bar, well lit in the form of their logo. Available seating spills over on either ends. I can best describe the whole as a cabin, with wood planked walls, wooden floor boards, and worn wood tables and chairs that match. Wooden clocks hang on the wall, wooden ornaments hang from light fixtures, and wood crates are repurposed as shelves. The latter of which is used to showcase a collection of rustic antiques, glass bottles, and faux plants as decor. They even serve you the bill in a wooden water bucket.

The menu is pretty straightforward. A list of omelette rices, fritters, meat on grills, “big fresh greens”, “rice house”, stuff from their raw bar, fresh oshi, aburi oshi, pasta + udon, “gimbal” (Korean style rolls), and “social sharing” platters. Self explanatory, but I still could have used a lot more photos, if any. Considering they are a fusion restaurant, it would make the ordering process easier. You also might order more, when being able to see what you will be getting before hand.

They are well known for their omelette rice, and not coincidentally I tried all they had to offer under this category. The “Tornado omelette rice” is available in a sweet and savoury demiglace or in a creamy jalapeño sauce. We got the former, taking in to consideration our server’s recommendation. It is a marvel how they are able to whip eggs this smooth, then churn it like spun fabric. The result, a unique texture that is both chewy and airy. Comforting with the familiar gravy and tender rice.

Similar in taste, but with a varying texture in it eggs is the “House omelette rice”. This too is served in a sweet and savoury demiglace, but with fried garlic flakes, tomato, and chilli. The flavour is similar to a sweet pasta sauce with the inclusion of stewed tomatoes embedded into the rice. Overall good, but I would have liked all it with a sweet Japanese curry sauce instead. Here, the eggs are beaten in to sponge-like consistency, it ate like tofu in the way it melted. But the highlight of the dish, was the crispy garlic chips that added a crunch and some depth of flavour.

The “Soufflé mushroom risotto”, applied a different technique to preparing its eggs. Foamy and light, it was well described as a “Cloud egg omelette”. With jalapeño, it sits over a creamy mushroom risotto. The cloud separated like meringue. It created a nice break, something light and refreshing to balance out the richness of the earthy mushrooms. Together, this made for another comforting dish to curl up with.

In a completely different direction, we had the punchy “Spicy crunch prawn”, under the “tempura” section of the menu. Five pieces of battered and deep fried tiger prawns, coated heavily in a spicy mayo and tangy brown sauce. It all sits on a bed of greens that functions like a mixed green salad. It tasted like the filling of a sushi roll that I have had before, and I wanted it like that again, with its slower burn. With all this flavour, it needed a base to even things out. It needed rice.

“Green Leaf” is also known for their “oshi”, Osaka style pressed sushi. The obvious choice is their flame-kissed aburi oshi in salmon. And although I am sure I would have enjoyed it, I had to order the most interesting of my options, which was the “Basil ebi tiger prawn oshi”. Tiger prawn, basil pesto oshi sauce, black olive, and Parmesan cheese. Not surprising, it tasted like a pasta dish, minus the black olive slice that over powered, and felt out of place. The whole bite left me wanting wanting garlic bread and a red wine, thanks to the pesto and parm combo. Overall, fun for novelty, but not one I would order again. It is probably best along side other oshi, and used as a break in between bites.

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? – Yes.
Good food, familiar and comforting flavours, and a menu with plenty more worth exploring. Where else can you get eggs like this? Don’t deny your cravings.

GREEN LEAF
9604 Cameron St, Burnaby, BC V3J 1M2
(604) 444-9802
greenleafcafebc.ca

OneZo Tapioca 丸作

After dinner we were looking for something sweet to end the night on. My guest has been meaning to visit this bubble tea shop in Burnaby for a while now. And she hasn’t until now, given the long lines and its original opening popularity.

We arrived just in time to beat the rush. With limited seating, you are lucky to be able to grab one of their two tables, or row of bar seats facing the wall.

This bubble tea cafe is better known for their house-made pearls. They don’t deal in the regular black tapioca balls, but smaller pearls flavoured in a variety of popular Asian ingredients and seasonal flavours.

You place your order at the counter, and like most other bubble tea cafes, you can choose your sweetness and amount of ice by percentage. They had all the familiar milk teas and slushes; as well as the new trendy dirty brown sugar tea series, fruit blended green teas, real taro smoothies, and even a collection of “healthy teas” which included honey and sesame teas.

Next, you pick your pearls. The “crystal” tapioca is white in colour with no distinguishing flavour. Purple tapioca is taro, black is black sesame, and yellow is mango. Only the black sesame tasted like it promised. I barely got any mango, and had even less from the taro. They also have a rotating seasonal flavour, on this visit it was “cactus”. I would have liked to try such a unique offering, but they only have their seasonal pearls available during the weekends. Instead I got their “Onezo tapioca”, three of the above flavours mixed together. Seeing as it is all pre-mixed, you can’t choose which three you get. They also don’t offer you samples of their pearls, so you take a chance on not getting what you want, or a flavoured pearl that might not compliment your drink. As for the pearl itself, I found them small, and the chew less desirable as a result, but still very fresh. However, the mix of pearl flavours I wanted to try, ended up taking away from my drink.

I had the “Jasmine green tea milk tea”, which is one of their most popular drinks. I ordered it as intended with 80% sugar and 100% ice. I liked how I was able to enjoy it as a smaller cup, which gave me a better ratio of pearl to sip-of-drink.

My guest, the bubble tea fan, went for the “oolong milk tea” with 50% sugar, 25% ice, and the crystal tapioca. She found that the white ones tasted like sesame.

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.
Another bubble tea option in Burnaby, giving you a differing reason to visit them, instead of their competitors. Don’t deny your cravings.

ONEZO
4929 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H 2E5
(604) 423-4929
onezotapioca.com

Xing Fu Tang, Burnaby

This one has been a long time coming. I have tried to visit this Taiwanese import for a while now, but kept encountering lengthy lines at its original location. So with its second in Burnaby, in a less frequented area, with plenty of parking to boot; a visit is much more feasible.

Its all windowed exterior and bright interior lights make it a beacon in the night. Easy to spot driving by, where everything else is shuttered for the evening. There menu is televised above the counter and taped up on a pillar by the door. It is easy to read and make your choice by sight. 11 specialty drinks and your typical teas with the possibility to add in pearls.

My guest is already a frequent customer so knew what she was getting, the same thing she gets every time. Their trademark specialty drink, the one that they are most famous, and the one the menu highlighted with a larger photo of.

“Brown sugar pearl milk”. An additional level of decadence is added to your typical pearl milk tea. The tapioca pearls are mixed in with melted brown sugar. The latter has a sticky toffee-like consistency, adhering to the pearl and the cup; making it look “dirty” (another nick name used to describe this class of drink). This combining of pearl and brown sugar is done throughout the day, when they sell through of one batch. If you visit at the right time, you will be treated to the show of them making it, and the scent of a room sweetened by cooking sugars. A specialty wok is placed at the counter, set behind glass for a hygienic view point. Here is where the magic happens, and the pearls stay until they are scooped in to cups using a specialty curled metal spatula.

As for the drink itself: It is a scoop of these brown sugar extra sweeten pearls, milk, cocoa power, and a vanilla cream foam topping that is torched. You can smell its burnt caramel flavour just by holding it. But surprisingly it is not as sweet as you think it would be. Drinking it without stirring, it tastes like slightly chocolatey milk. But after a good mix, folding the foam into the milk and having its torched heat warm up the serving, it is pretty darn tasty. A sweetness that is great the first few sips, but wears on you after a few more. No complaints from my guest who admitted that this was her second one in as many days.

I preferred the “bunny jelly mango smoothie”, this was also recommend by the laminated colour menu. A larger photo to have the allure of a rabbit on your drink lure you in. It was impressive that they were able to make the drink thick enough to have the coconut jelly moulded bunny sit a top of the drink without sinking. This too was sweet, but better with the tartness of their mango and the blended ice that helped to thicken it. In this drink you don’t get the regular black pearls, these were called “pink pearls”. They were squishier and popped more than the regular pearls, but not as juicy as juice pearls. A nice in between with less chewing, and equal parts sweet and tart. But the rabbit was my favourite part, a dessert on its own. Tasty coconut jelly you can either try to break down and have with your drink, or coconut jelly you can fish out of your cup and eat as is. Two desserts in one.

Worth noting is that their cups feel smaller than the ones at other bubble tea places, but at the same time I don’t think you need anymore. They were filled to the brim, and then some with the spill proof lid in place.

And while you are waiting for your drink to be made to other, you can also get your fortune told. A Taiwanese tradition that has you picking a red tipped wooden stick out of a collection of 100. Each one is numbered. The number corresponds to a number on a little drawer, from the fixture adjacent. You open the drawer to retrieve your paper fortune. A sheet that you can take with you as a souvenir. Based on the ones my guest and I got, it feels very romantic and relationship driven.

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? – Yes.
I am not a big fan of bubble tea and sweet things, but from what I tasted, and comparing it to others, I definitely like their brown sugar pearl drink the most (haven’t tried many to date). Worth trying if you haven’t already. They are on a different level with their bubble tea gastronomy. Don’t deny your cravings.

XING FU TANG
2675 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC V5R 5H4
(604) 423-3773
xingfutang.ca

Weekend Tea

A new tea and juice shop has opened up on Kingsway, another beverage solution to help keep you cool this summer. Located by Metrotown, you might miss their shop if you don’t know what you are looking for. An all glass exterior with the word “weekend” running across the top, reminding you of what you are waiting for.

Inside, is an oasis with faux greens grafted on to the wall. They hung and dangled, surrounding their logo for the perfect backdrop. Before it, several chairs and small tables are available for seating.

You order at the counter, reading off the straightforward menu behind it. For those who order visually, they also have photos of drinks and their names on surrounding their till.

The following are what we tried, based on the clerk’s suggestions. Their specialty is their fruit based teas so we were sure to try the “Lychee Tea”, that came highly recommend. Plus, it isn’t often that you come across lychee juice on a menu, even if it is blended with tea. There are bits of lychee and jelly within, offering plenty to to chew through. It was not too sweet, serving as a great thirst quencher.

Another one of their specialties is their yogurt drink. We tried both the “Honeydew yogurt” and “Grape yogurt”. You definitely want to mix this one up so you get an even blend of the slush and yogurt, with jelly bits in each sip. The fruit flavours come through and you get a bit of creaminess to it from the dairy.

The “Zang mango” is mango jam, mango chunks, fresh milk, and cheese foam. Another one you mix up, in order to get the intended flavour. Sweet fruit and salty cheese works in this drinkable dessert.

And I got the “Zang pearl milk”, their take on the popular brown sugar trend that doubles the calories and sugar of the drink. Great the first few sips, but it is a flavour that wares out quick.

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.
A solid option for drinks and a place to chat at in the area.
Don’t deny your cravings.

WEEKEND TEA
#101-5021, Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H 4A5
(604) 620-1315
weekendtea.com

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