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Category: Burnaby Page 1 of 14

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

Green & Oak Malaysian Restaurant

My guest and I were looking for Malaysian food for dinner. And after a quick Google search, we were happy to find one by our homes, in Burnaby. Based on the building’s roof detail, we surmised that this use to be a Greek restaurant. But the rainbow spotted wall paper and light weight, bleach wood furniture had the interior looking more like a bubble tea cafe. Similarly, the name didn’t really speak to what was on the menu.

We were originally seated by the back exit, on a convertible table. However, as soon as a table by the window opened up, the host that originally showed us in (who I think is also the owner), kindly re-sat us without us having to ask for the better table. All the while she had her young 3 year old son in tow, helping to drop off menus and deliver diner’s their bills. It gave you an “Awww” sensation and spoke to this being a family run business.

The two sided laminated menu listed a bunch of familiar plates, and I fully indulged in this edible walk down memory lane. The following are a must order when I see them on any menu. However I had a preconceived idea of how each dish tasted, and therefore I was left unsatisfied. The food was good, and I would have enjoyed everything more had I not compared it to my mother’s cooking or that which I had growing up. It was simply a different rendition of Malaysian cuisine. My guest on the other hand enjoyed everything in full, taking a take out menu to go, along with our leftovers.

“Roti-canai”, fresh made Malaysian flatbread, grilled and served with their own curry dipping sauce. The dough was chewy and flaky, the perfect vehicle to sop up chunks of their curry. The curry here was the exact same one served in their “Malaysian curry rice”. A coconut curry made with lemon grass, shallot, and onion. I wanted a richer curry, finding it a little flat for a dip. I also wanted some more peanut and sweetness to it, to better play off the salty roti.

The “Hainanese chicken” was my favourite of the night. Steamed chicken cooked in rich chicken stock, served with a red chilli and ginger dipping sauce. This is the set meal with both white or dark meat, but for $1 extra we could have had our choice of all dark or all white meat. It was just as I remembered it. Tender chicken, served slightly chilled, with a flavour that is clean on palette, ending in a faint soy flavour that lingers. As a set menu it comes with a neutral soup (compared to everything else we ordered), a tasty chicken stock flavoured steamed rice, and a mild chilli and ginger oil sauce for additional seasoning.

My guest’s favourite dish was the “Penang tofu”. Deep fried tofu topped with onion, cucumber, and a sweet chilli sauce. This version was good, the sauce was on point, but we wished the tofu was crisper and that the deep fry had more of a freshness to it.

The “Laksa soup” was disappointing. A runny curry based soup with tofu, bean sprouts, egg, lemon grass, lime juice, and hints of coconut milk. It wasn’t as flavourful or as rich as I know laksa to be. We had our choice of vermicelli, egg noodle, rice noodle, mixed or no noodle. We went for the egg noodle, but had we selected for the finer gauge, traditional, rice noodle we might have liked the bowl more. See a whole reminded more more of a sour tom yum soup, than the rich curry based soup I was hoping for.

I was excited for the “Belachan fried rice” with dried shrimp, chilli pepper, pork, shrimp, egg, and soya sauce. This was a flavour that isn’t known to many, a unique fishiness with good umami. I just wished it wasn’t so greasy, leaving a sheen on our utensils and lips.

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.
Once again, the food was good enough, but it just didn’t satisfy because of the expectation I had going in. Not traditional Malaysian fare, but a unique interpretation when in Burnaby, to discover. Don’t deny your cravings.

GREEN OAK
3760 Hastings St, Burnaby, BC V5C 2H5
(778) 589-2668
greenandoak.com

Happy Hour at Atlas

Today I was invited down to “Atlas”, the steak and seafood restaurant located in Grand Villa casino, Burnaby’s best hot spot. I was here to try out their happy hour offerings.

Traffic had us arriving later than anticipated, but luckily we were still able to take advantage of their price reduced menu for 20 minutes upon seating. We would immediately order everything we wanted, before cut off.

We started with their cocktail special for $8, and today it was a Amaretto sour. None of the sour, and plenty of sweet from the foamy egg white topper.

We then followed it up with a 6oz glass of wine for $6. Either red or white, Merlot or Chardonnay. They also have 12oz Stella Artois drafts for $6.

For food, the following dishes were $4 a bite. It doesn’t look like much on the plate, but stacking on extra orders grew it to a fulsome appetizer.

The “seared scallop and tiger prawn” was a juicy large shrimp and a softened scallop, sitting atop of a thin slice of pineapple, smoked in their jasper oven. All wading in a pool of sweet coconut curry cream. Together this offered up a refreshing bite that made me crave a side of coconut rice with it.

The “warm prime rib bun” was seasoned in a red wine jus, and served with a truffle mayonnaise in a toasted brioche bun. The folds of beef were perfectly cooked with a pinky hue. It was saucy with the flavour of the truffle shining through. I highly recommend eating this as soon as you get it, as the bun does get soggy quick.

The “hand rolled meatballs marinara” came with two full sized balls and a piece of garlic toast twice as big. I suggest sharing as each ball was plenty. The classic flavour of tangy tomato in a sweet herbed base.

Ironically, my favourite dish off of their happy hour menu was the complimentary, house made kettle chips. Extra crispy, thick cut potato slices that kept you coming back for more crunch after crunch. It came with a garlic aioli sauce for dipping, not that it needed any help in the flavour department. I definitely finished the skillet-full myself.

They also offered $1 an oyster special, with their variety depended on the batch. Although a great deal, we passed for the time being. We had planned to stay around for dinner, and would splurge on their seafood tower before, therefore knew we would get our oyster fix then and there.

This is their “Atlas chilled seafood tower” for two, at $88. Two tiers that arrived at our table with a show of liquid nitrogen smoke. The top included jumbo shrimp with the classic tangy red cocktail sauce; and raw kushi oysters, the catch of the day.

The bottom layer had clams and mussels cracked open, long snow crab legs, and a full lobster tail cut in half for easy sharing. The latter two was also pre-cracked for an easier peel back. Although if you needed more help in this endeavour there were nut crackers available, and we each received a hot towel to wipe our hands with.

This was a fresh feast we enjoyed with a bottle of white wine. It was brought table side and kept chilled in a copper bucket.

During our stay we also got a sneak peak of one of their new services. A cocktail made table side, crafted from premium ingredients. There is something about watching your food or drink being prepared before your eyes that elevates it and your experience. The result, a smokey Old Fashion, topped with a cherry.

 

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.
“Atlas” is the dressiest place in Burnaby. An upscale restaurant offering the downtown feel and experience without the haste of the travel, the cost of the cab, and the trouble of finding parking. And now with happy hour specials, they give you another reason to visit. I suggest starting your dinner early with some happy hour bites as your appetizer. Then enjoying your visit with well crafted drinks that easily take you from after work to dinner. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

ATLAS
4331 Dominion Street, Burnaby BC, V5G 1C7
604-453-0776
atlassteakandfish.com

Audrey Moment Afternoon Tea & Cafe

Burnaby has its first tea house and I finally gotten around to checking it out. It is fairly close to Metrotown if walking, and if you are driving, they are conveniently in a shopping plaza with plenty of parking.

When you enter, the foyer has a counter with a collection of macarons you can take to go, loose leaf teas they sell by the pound, and potted succulents perfect for gifting.

We were led to the salon where the room was dressed girly. A collection of pretty bobbles and cutesy elements that don’t necessarily go together, but individually have their charms. Antique frames and worn wood shelves with elaborate crystal chandeliers and purple velvet drapes dressed with golden tassels. It all matched the soft music playing: top forty tracks without their usual base or lyrics. Pretty and melodic.

We were seated one of their carved chairs with pearlescent paint that matched the collection of white round tables. There was plenty of seating and coming 1 hour before they closed for the night, we were only the second group sat.

Our visit was a last minute decision, so I didn’t get a chance to book 24 hours in advance, meaning we didn’t get to try their trademark tea set served in a gold bird cage decorated with artificial rose buds on a vine. I even asked if we could order a random assortment of sweet and savoury nibbles and have them displayed on the specialty cage. It was a hard no.

So instead, we got the second tier “Afternoon Tea” set, the “Audrey moment” is a collection of four savoury items, two black current scones with Devon cream and preserve, and four mini desserts. $29.95 per person with a pot of tea each.

My guest got the jasmine green tea, a green China tea with jasmine flowers. It was served in a mismatching tea set with blue and gold speckled pot and a pink cup with a Victoria scene painted at the bottom of the cup and on its saucer pair.

I was given the option of one of their hot or cold drinks instead of tea in a pot, so I took the time to try one of their coloured lattes. You can choose your flavoured syrup and what colours you want. I went for A rose flavoured latte coloured with rainbow milk. Truthfully, I am not a fan of coffee, but will drink more if they look more like this. The “rose” was actually three dried buds that sank to the bottom of the cup. They didn’t look all that appealing, especially once all the colours of the latte art blended together became a murky green pool.

As for the tea tower it was served in the more traditional three layers of plates on a wire rack. We worked our way from savoury to sweet in the following order. Of note, everything is made it house and does rotate on and off the menu.

The “Egg salad sandwich” included tomato and spinach. It was plain, and could have used more seasoning in its egg mix, or some pepper as a minimum.

The “Bacon cheese quiche” had a but good ratio of cheese and bacon on a buttery crust.

The “Shrimp bite” was cold shrimp on toasted hard bread with a heavier dusting of paprika. Nothing special with this one sadly.

The “Chicken salad roll” included spinach, lettuce, celery, and mayo all bundled in a pesto wrap. This could have used some ranch for some bite.

The “Black currant scones” are worth revisiting, they too are made in house and are a staple, available all the time. They were nice and crispy on the out outside, and warm and spongy on the inside. Best with both the smooth Devon cream and sweet raspberry preserve as a spread.

For dessert they were pretty bites with some hits and misses. We both didn’t like the blue earl grey macaron. It was far too sweet and the texture stuck to your teeth. We both passed on any more after two bites.

The “Tiramisu pot” was a cute idea, but I wish you could eat the actual pot and that they used mint instead of parsley for the green. As far as taste it was good, especially as I am not a fan of tiramisu. This was a nice creamy dessert with spongy cake at the bottom and a crunchy crushed cookie topping. It wasn’t overly softened and soggy like the dessert normally is.

I did like the “Grape Napoleon”. It was light and airy, layers flaked off as you bit in, and powered sugar snowed down. Never had it with grapes before, but I liked the pairing. The firm and slightly tart grape with the sweet cream and buttery crust was a nice combination.

The “Passion fruit and mango panna cotta” was also tart, but more cheesy with its firm Greek yogurt -like cream. The popping juice pearls on top added some textural interest and a change of taste 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? – No.
Everything is made in house and you can tell. I didn’t necessarily like each element, but as a whole I did enjoy the tea set enough; but not enough to to try their larger tea set with simply one more savoury item and another sweet, even if it is uniquely served in a bird cage. But I will return if I am looking for a nice tea and some dessert in such a spot when in Burnaby. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

AUDREY MOMENTS
120b-6540 Burlington Avenue, Burnaby BC, V5H 4G3
604 559-9789
audreymomentcafe.com
Audrey Moment Afternoon Tea & Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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