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

Category: Central Burnaby Page 1 of 3

Han Ju, hot pot restaurant

This wasn’t our first option, it wasn’t even our second. The later in the night craving was for xiao long bao; however the usual go-to on Kingsway wasn’t open on Wednesdays, and the back up within Crystal Mall was also closed for the night. So instead of getting back into the car and driving around, we walked a few steps out, to the exterior of Crystal Mall, and right into Han Ju. They claim to be a hot pot restaurant from the exterior awning sign, but we would end up ordering rice instead.

I really appreciated the presentation and cohesive theme of their red and black dish ware. This is definitely the way to elevate a food court tray. Each of our rice sets came packed in a round plastic bowl that sort of reminded me of a dog dish, and paired with it was a serving of miso soup.

I liked the amount of meat you get from the Kimchi bbq pork on rice. A good ratio of meat and sides for all the rice underneath.

Whereas the Stewed beef and tomato on rice had less pieces of beef that you had to ration out for enough even bites.

We also ordered drinks to go, not pictured. My guest had a taro milk with no pearls, myself a coconut milk with pearls. Sadly, after the order was placed, the owner had to come back to inform me that they actually had no pearls, and instead she offered me coconut jelly. I wasn’t interesting in doubling up on the coconut, so opted for just the milk drink. And because of this, they were kind enough to take my drink off the receipt completely. A nice gesture they didn’t mention verbally, but it definitely did not go unnoticed on my end.

Overall, this wasn’t the most memorable meal, nor is it one that I would travel great distances for. But this hole in the wall is worth highlighting for how homely things felt, and how comforting the food was in a pinch. Not to mention their reasonable prices and easily accessible locale, making them an easy spot to catch a quick meal at.

Han Ju Tofu Hotpot
4500 Kingsway Suite 1218, Burnaby, BC, V5H 2A9

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.

#101-5021, Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H 4A5
(604) 620-1315

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.


4331 Dominion Street, Burnaby BC, V5G 1C7

Atlas, Dine Out 2019 menu

Today I was invited down to Burnaby’s hottest spot, located within the “Grand Villa” casino. Where, at “Atlas” I got a sneak peak of their steak and seafood $45 Dine Out Vancouver menu, 2 days before the actual festival started.

This was a menu that not only had value, but gave you a show with table side preparation possibilities. It also highlighted dishes that featured their very unique and highly specialized oven. This is their Josper oven, it is just 1 of 4 all across Canada. It Is designed to give you a BBQ grill from an oven, which has a door to keep the meat juicy while maintaining a nice sear. You can cook anything quick and easy in this. It goes as high as 1,000 degrees, and only uses mesquite charcoal, giving everything an even cook and a perfect char. We made sure to order the dishes that utilized this equipment, to fully enjoy the restaurant we were now in.

In my opinion, this is one of the better Dine Out menus out there, with one of the best value. All your Dine Out menu options are also available on their regular menu with no deviation from what we were having today, and what you could have normally. And with 3 options to choose from, across 3 courses, it is a menu that can please even the pickiest of diners. To further demonstrate this value, I will be including each dish’s regular listed price and adding up what my guest and I got, to see how much we saved “Dining Out”.

They even start you off with complimentary bread, baked fresh and fluffy in a skillet and served with a Stilton blue cheese butter. The bread was amazing, I could have enjoyed a serving all to my self. And the spread was not overwhelming like you may think. It was a fine balance and a great way to make their buns memorable.

Next, we got our mouths warmed up with an amuse bouche that was part of our 3 courses for $45 special. And when you include the bread that is 5 courses for $45! “Prosciutto with a melon ball and lemon drip”. This was a fresh start with tangy lemon. The citrus helped to better highlight the sweetness of the fruit and the saltiness of the meat, by comparison. I would have liked each course to be punctuated by one of these to help clean the palate.

For appetizers your choice was between soup, salad, or a plate of meat. We passed on the Caesar salad, although if you order it and ask nice, they might make it table side for you, like they normally do. Scratch-made starting with the vinaigrette from base ingredients and whipping it all together by hand. All before it is tossed in with fresh washed and dried greens and housemade croutons. If you like the salad and enjoy a great presentation you are in for a treat with this. Off the a la carte menu this service will cost you $14.

My guest got the “Smoked tomato bisque”, after learning that this would be prepared within the aforementioned special oven. It is regularly $9 and served with creme fraiche, green onions, and a Parmesan crisp. This isn’t your regular tart and tangy tomato soup, the use of the josper oven gives the serving a smokiness that engulfs it. It was deep, and almost meaty (without actual meat). The soup itself was warm and cozy, the type of bowl you want to curl up on the couch with. I just wished that I saved some of the bread above to dip into it with. Though the cheese crisp was great at adding texture and some crunch, when I needed a break from the one tone soup.

I had the “Beef carpaccio”, which isn’t actually on their normal menu, the only way you can enjoy it, is during the 2 weeks of Dine Out. Other restaurants offering a similar dish would charge $15-22, so I will estimate the cost of this as $17. It is thin slices of meat that melt in your mouth, topped with charcoal brioche, arugula, pickled shimeji, mushroom, and Parmesan for additional textural and flavour interest. The char chips stood out the most to me, it gave the dish its full body-ness, and offered a unique twist, once again making use of their oven and making this version exclusive to “Atlas”.

For entrees your choices are between what kind of steak you want, as they are a steakhouse by title. You can have your steak as beef, salmon, or celeriac for the vegetarians.

I got the steak, and took our server’s recommendation of upgrading the 7oz West Coast cut of certified angus beef striploin steak, to the 14oz angus beef from Alberta for $12 more, and it was worth it. Normally a 10oz striploin is $37, so having 3oz less would make it $25.90. And if you upgrade to the 14oz for $12 more we would normally pay $37.90 for the steak above. Although the regular menu lists the 14oz Alberta angus at $46 regularly, which is already more than the 5 courses you get for $45 with the Dine Out menu. So even when you choose to upgrade you are saving in the long run.

As for the quality of meat, it was outstanding. The taste of the grill was as apparent as the bold char marks, and cooked perfectly pink to the medium rare that I had requested. I liked the fatty bits at the tip of the steak, and only wish for a nice gravy to dip them into.

The steak came with the same sides as the other two dishes below: a warm potato salad that are more like chunks of seasoned creamy nugget potato halves, and a chimichurri sauce. “Chimichurri” is an uncooked sauce used for grilled meat. It is made of finely chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano and red wine vinegar. As it was a lighter dressing, I found it a great pairing for the similarly lighter fish below. But for the steak I wanted something richer and bolder to pair with its natural flavouring.

My guest got the “Josper grilled salmon steak” with more warm potato salad, and chimichurri sauce. Typically this is $28. I am not normally a fan of flakey fish, but this salmon really stood out. It really spoke to the quality of the ingredients used and the caliber of the kitchen. I just wish it had more flavour or pop on its own, and didn’t need to rely on the smear of green sauce. The same level of flavour in the crispy fish skin, for the entire fish would have been nice. Maybe even a handful of crisp fried onion threads to add some crunch and seasoning to this dish.

The surprising fan favourite of the evening was the vegetarian grilled celeriac “steak”. I didn’t order it, but was able to grab a bite from a friend. Celeriac is a root vegetable with a texture similar to potato, yet is crispy and juicy like celery. This version was well seasoned and hearty with the bold flavour of its ancho-coffee rub, and pomegranate and red wine jus shining through. Sadly I didn’t get a photo of this, but trust me, it is as photogenic as all their other dishes.

Dessert was a hard choice, everything was delicious and each $10. So it is basically about ordering for preference. For example the “Vietnamese coffee parfait” was a great option for those who love chocolaty rich desserts, or for those who normally end their meal with coffee. My guest ordered this one. Espresso chocolate mousse, dark chocolate brownie, coffee jelly, condensed milk ice cream, coconut biscotti, cocoa nibs, and bailey’s Irish cream. There was so much to unpack in this. Plenty of bits to chew through, and even more flavour combinations to keep your mouth interested and going back for another dynamic scoop. There was no hiding the espresso essence in this. Strong, but well balanced by the refreshing condense milk ice cream. They need to offer the latter to-go, in pints to take home.

I am glad that I took our server’s strong recommendation of the “Vanilla cheesecake” with Dolce de leche filling, brown sugar shortbread crust, and raspberry gel and candied orange zest topping. This isn’t your stiff and dry New York style cheesecake. But a fluffy round that melts like cream. A great option for those like me, who want to end dinner on a more lighter note. The caramel centre was perfect, it wasn’t so sweet that you couldn’t clearly make out the cheesiness of the cake. The buttery short bread cookie crust was a complimentary base and the raspberry dots a great way to change up the flavour from bite to bite.

The dish we missed out on was the “Baked Alaska”. I think “Atlas” might be the first to do this flambéd” table side. This dessert is completed by your table with the spritzing of alcohol from an atomizer, and the sparking of a blue flame, as the dish is torched for a nice brown and black charred finish. The addition of a show and the sheer size of the dish puts this marshmallow cake at $17. Raspberry coconut ice cream, lemon sorbet, orange vanilla cake, and Italian meringue. We didn’t order this but got to try some from others who did. They were more than happy to share their dessert that was too much for one! It is double the size and the serving of the other two desserts above. As for its taste, it was a fresh lemon cake topped with tangy sorbet. The citrus and tartness balanced out the heavy exterior of this flavour shaped dome. If you have never gotten this before, this showstopper is definitely the one to try.

In short, “Atlas” has best Dine Out menu in Burnaby and definitely one of the more enticing menus overall. The value is apparent when you do the math and realize you are getting much more than the $45 asking price. What should have been a $118 meal for two, we got for the Dine Out pride of $90. And that is not including the complimentary bread and small bite to start! So be sure you make your reservations today and not miss out this great deal and delicious meal.


4331 Dominion Street, Burnaby BC, V5G 1C7

Personas, summer menu

There aren’t many exciting spots in Burnaby, not many places to spend the night drinking at. So when I was invited to Burnaby’s only casino, to check out “Personas” the new summer menu, I jumped at the chance to discover more about its night life and hidden patio. As is the case with all casinos, there are many dining options within, but for a good time with live music and unique cocktails, “Personas” is definitely the one you want to visit.

Given its location they are definitely a hidden gem. The view doesn’t give you much, but you are here for the white loungers, the glass and stone fire pits, the palm trees, and the running water feature. It is an oasis surrounded by tall buildings and concrete. There is even an island bar on deck, with built-in ice moat to keep drinks chilled. I would love to return one night when it is staffed. Living in Burnaby they are definitely my favourite option for a night of drinking with a girlfriend, and best of all the taxi ride to and from equals one cab ride downtown.

Our night was off to the right start. It began with and would end with two cocktails unique to them.

We were welcomed in with their “Personas LIT”, a clever name for their long Island iced tea. topped with lemon slush. It was a great summer drink, or just a great ice tea, alcohol or not, you couldn’t taste it.

But it was soon forgotten when a round of giant “Bulldogs” came out. This “Double Down Bulldog” has two Coronas bottles flipped upside down in a salted rim margarita. There was enough liquid to fill two servings of this specialty glass, a goblet the side of your head. It came with four straws, meaning this one is for sharing, so you have to bring your friends if you to try this for yourself.

The “Ebi prawn” was tempura prawns dressed in Japanese mayo, bonito flakes, and black sesame seeds. I liked the starchy coating on the prawn, although they are quick to get soggy. Therefore it is best to eat this one as soon as you get it. Each crispy prawn was heavily coated in their spicy and creamy mayo sauce, given some fishiness from the bonito, and some depth with the black sesame seeds. Over all decent, but it felt like it needed some thing more to finish off the flavour. Some tang in between prawns maybe? Like pickled ginger or vegetable.

I really liked the presentation of their “General Hao’s Chicken”, and how clever its name was. Lightly breaded bites of fried chicken meat, finished with a toss in their lemon chilli sauce. I found the breaded nugget a little doughy, but a good snack to pair with beer given how flavourful it was. It was also great to have the ginger and raw vegetable included for balance and a palette cleanser.

I really liked the “Cheese & Honey” flatbread with caramelized onion, dates, mozzarella, Parmesan, and goat cheese. It was a perfect merging together of textures and flavours. I just wish there were more dates, it was definitely the bite I was looking forward to most. Its chewy sweetness with the sticky goat cheese, and the drizzle of honey to bind them together was amazing.

Only by comparison I found the “Tropic Thunder” pizza a little flat. Grilled chicken, Alfredo sauce, grilled pineapple salsa, bacon, cilantro, chilli thread, and a drizzling of their sweet and tangy barbecue sauce. I really like the barbecue sauce and pineapple pairing here, I just wished it was less overpowered by the barbecue sauce, maybe mixing it with mayonnaise to water it down would be the trick?

The “Sticky ribs” coated in a galbi sauce had plenty of meat around the bone, easy enough to pry off. Definitely a notch up from any bar serving I have ever had.

And this is the prettiest salad I have ever had. “Falafel wedge salad” with crispy garbanzo beans, sun-dried tomato, cucumber, homemade pickled turnip, sumac, and a lemon tahini dressing. I am not a fan of salad in the first place, and even less so when a 1/4 of it comes served still as a head. But the colours were just so amazing, it attracted me like a bee to a flower. Vibrantly bold hues and the flavours to match, each ingredient was complimentary to the others. It was like if you were to take a falafel and make it into a salad; crispy and fresh, with the taste of dill.

They had a decent poke bowl, but I wouldn’t get a poke bowl at a restaurant, when there are so many poke shops that specialize in the stuff. None the less, if you find yourself here cause your friends wanted to go, but you wanted poke, this is what you would order. Ahi tuna, cucumber, edamame, spicy mayonnaise, gochujiang chilli dressing, and kizami nori. It ate more like a rice bowl, but with not enough tuna, although this seems to be the case of most pokes, anywhere.

But if your prefer your seafood cooked there is the “California sushi tacos”. Crab, avocado, nori, cucumber, togarashi mayo, wasabi, and sushi rice spooned in a gyoza taco. The beige coloured crab meat didn’t look all that tasty in the beige gyoza shell, although the avocado and seaweed that topped it gave things some needed colour. Sadly I missed trying this one, so won’t be able to review it for you here. But I love a good reinterpretation of a classic, so would have absolutely ordered this to try it.

The “Bourbon St. Blackened chicken” was lack lustre. This was a blackened double breast of chicken, topped with a bourbon maple jus, over brown rice and seasonal vegetables. There was a substantial amount of of spice coating the chicken, but sadly none of it actually penetrated into the white meat. Bland.

This is their “Personas Burger”. They pride themselves on using real ground beef, which they mould into a ball with their hands, then cook up on their grill, with a weight used to flatten the patty. Therefore no patty comes out quite the same shape. It made me like them more, but not as much as I could, as the burger I had was slightly on the over cooked side. However, the flavour and seasonings were great. 100% AAA ground chuck, lettuce, tomato, pickle, red onion, and garlic aioli on a brioche bun. Doing it again I would pay the extra to add in bacon, mushroom, and cheddar and make it over the top! The curly fries were the best accompaniment. I would get the burger combo just for the fries, another great bar classic they do well with.

I liked the “short rib pappardelle” although strategic eating was required for this one. I loved the perfectly chewy texture of the thick cut ribbon of noodle, although as is they weren’t all the seasoned. Each bite needed the toppings: toasted pine nuts, wild mushroom ragout, sun dried tomato, goat cheese, virgin olive oil, and grilled garlic croutons. Collectively they made the dish. The only thing I would add is a light sauce to coat the noodles with, giving the dish some moisture. And some Parmesan for its cheesy saltiness, just as how I ate the leftovers at home, which was delicious. Although the toasted pine nuts didn’t fare too well a day later.

And lastly, a dessert you drink. Their showstopper and what they are best known for is their “cotton candy cosmo”. Typically a pink tuff gets spun and the speared on to the straw. Then you either enjoy the cotton candy as is, or you let it melt, sweetening the beverage under it. Today we were lucky enough to have our cotton candy in green and flavoured like sour apple.


The ability to spin my own cotton candy had me getting creative with all that power! Which led to my latest YouTube video on my channel: MaggiMei. Check out my impromptu cotton candy challenge below.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
This is definitely a destination worth travelling to. THE place in Burnaby for a good time. Ideal for a couple of drinks on their patio, with great classic bar food to nibble on. And best of all, they have live music on Fridays and Saturdays, trivia nights, and now with Vancouver’s latest giant cocktail coming to its menu there is even more to come in for! Don’t deny your cravings.


Grand Villa Casino
4331 Dominion Street, Burnaby BC

Trattoria Burnaby

“Trattoria” is my go to for foolproof Italian. Their menu serves all with plenty of comfortable options, for those who prefer familiarity; and a few twists to keep more adventurous diners engaged as well. Today we were invited to their third location in Burnaby, to try a few of the new items to hit their spring menu.

To read up on my original visit to this location and get a little more detail on the decor, click the link below.

Trattoria Italian Kitchen


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

They are now offering four new salads, including a salad with beets and one with chicken parmesan as the protein. But the one to get is definitely the “Tonnato salad”. It features seared ahi tuna, artichokes, pepperonata, fregola castelvetrano olives, and pinenuts; all coated in a limoncello purée. The result is vinegary fish fresh with bright citrus pops, balanced by the pepperiness from the crisp greens underneath. It makes for a great zesty lunch; or as in our case, the perfect starter to kick start your appetite with.

We ordered the meat and cheese platter for the luscious burrata and fresh prosciutto featured. A shareable collection of prosciutto di parma, pesto, marinated tomatoes, and forno bread. You pick and pry pieces to craft your ideal bite.

“Mussels” prepared with nduja (spicy, spreadable pork salumi from Italy), fennel sausage, saffron, white wine, garlic, and fresh herbs; served with forno bread. I found it a little over whelming with the sausage and pork spread, I would have preferred it just with the the salt and citrus to allow the flavour of the seafood to show through. The bread was also a little too tough for my liking, even with a soak in broth I still found it stiff.

The “Crab and lobster ravioli” is perfect if you are craving a smaller portion that satisfies fully. Sundried tomato pesto, mint, and basil gremolata; smothering crab heavy squares. The best time to order this is during pasta Tuesdays when it is offered at a discount, although come early because they don’t take reservations and they do tend to sell out of this one.

They also have a handful of new pizzas on menu, and we sunk our teeth into two of them. I preferred the nduja and fennel sausage and their flavouring on the “Abruzo pizza” here. They partnered better alongside the freshness of broccolini and the smokiness of the scamorza (talian, spun paste cow’s milk cheese). The pizza was a nice mix of spicy and salty, with a multitude of textures for enjoyable eating, thanks to the mix of toppings. Although, I could have skipped the saltiness of castelvetrano olives. Baked whole, I found them distracting to the otherwise cohesive theme of the pizza.

Where I craved some more freshness, I got it from the “Gamberi genovese” pizza. Creamy mascarpone pesto, juicy soleggiate tomatoes, prawn, fatty Macedonian feta, sweet red onion, and peppery arugula. The only thing I would suggest is grilling the prawns, not only to give it some colour in a char, but also to give some more stand out flavour. I wasn’t expecting it to come out raw and pale looking. Nor did I enjoy the acrid flavour of the burnt pizza crust. Although having said all that, this was still my favourite of the two pies.

Don’t forget to save room for dessert. The newest addition to dessert menu is the “Salted caramel budino”. Butterscotch custard cream with salted caramel sauce, and a amaretti cookie crumble topping. This was a little too sweet for me, but perfect for those who love to end their meal on a richer morsel. My favourite part was the cookie topping giving the silken pudding a nice crunch to chew through.

Not a new menu item, but one of their hallmark desserts, that shouldn’t be missed, is the “Zeppole al cioccolato”. Italian style doughnuts with chocolate, gianduja, and vanilla creme anglaise. Typically each ball is filled with so much liquid chocolate that taking a bite has it squirting all down your face.


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.
New menu items mean new reasons to visit. As this is the closest location to my house, I make them my destination when I want italian food I don’t have to think about. Pizzas and pastas that you know you will like. Don’t deny your cravings.


102 – 4501 Kingsway, Burnaby BC, V5H 2A9
604 424 8779

Jang Mo Jib, Kingsway

The requirements for this dinner was a restaurant serving family style dishes that isn’t a Chinese one. One that proved difficult, so we ended at this Korean chain as our best option. Their’s a venue that offered plenty of seating, larger tables, and the possibility to order a handful of different dishes to feed a larger group of eight. So this became our destination to enjoy a belated Chinese New Year dinner with extended family at.

Located on Kingsway, a few blocks from Metrotown, driving to and parking is a breeze. Except that the lot was surprisingly filled this Sunday.

The restaurant is divided into two parts. The seating on the left paired smaller parties and couples together. We were seated on the right with other large groups who needed tables pushed up against booths (like our party did), in order to seat them all. The extended room glows with the red accents that highlighted the ceiling. Wooden dividers gave privacy between tables, and provided extra surfaces for posters and signs advertising their specials. Although the menu did a good enough job tantalizing us with all its colourful and vivid photos. The walls were decorated with Asiatic art. Pandas at play, dipping valleys and rushing water ways, twisted trees and spiral-ing streams, and a dragon gliding between the clouds.

We ordered as a group and were surprised by the speed in which it all arrived. The food came one after another, starting with the complimentary sides and rice. These, we were informed that we could have as much as we wanted. They all helped to provide a nice palette refresher with their tangy tastes, chill temperature, and their use as a neutral base for all the stronger flavours to follow.

A green salad with vinaigrette offered freshness. The chilled soy beans, crunch. The sweet chilled potatoes and the spicy daikon gave you a base for all your tasty meats. And the kimchi is a staple in Korean cuisine with its pickled tang. All together, five great sides to enjoy atop rice.

“Goon mahn doo”. Pan fried Korean style beef and pork dumplings, served with house special soy sauce for dipping. They were chewy with a good crispy skin from the pan fry.

“L.A. Gahl Bee”. Korean traditional BBQ beef short ribs marinated with house special BBQ sauce. It was described as being rolled on charcoal, which gave it its nice char, but it was very hard to eat. We didn’t realize that, that is what the scissors on the table were for. And that we were suppose to cut it down to smaller pieces, to have everyone be able to pick from it. In smaller bites it was delicious.

“Bool Go Gee”. Korean traditional stir fried beef rib eye and vegetables marinated with house special BBQ sauce. Served in a sizzling hot plate like teriyaki without all that sauce and sweetness. I felt it had way too much onion compared to meat available.

“Go Dung uh goo wee”, grilled Norwegian mackerel. Salty white fish with crispy skin. I am sure there are tiny bones to be aware of, but I lucked out by missing most of them. Flavourful, yet fragrant enough to enjoy as is.

“Yang nyum chicken”. Deep fried chicken wings tossed in house special spicy sauce. larger pieces of wings and drumlets battered heavily with your choice of spice level. We requested it only a little spicy.

The “Jab che” was one of my favourites of the night. Stir fried sweet potato noodle with assorted vegetable and beef cooked in a house special marinade sauce. I like the noodles the most, so was disappointed to get more onion then slippery strands. But the flavour was great and all the other julienned vegetables offered a great texture to chew through.

The “Gam ja tahng” was most impressive of our seven dishes. Korean traditional pork back and neck bone soup with green onion, regular onion, vegetables, and potato. Available in either a small or large size, this is the large served in a hot pot, kept boiling over a camp stove. The broth was full of flavour, lending plenty of it to the large chunks of meat on bone, the large potatoes halves, and onion quarters. Although I was only partial to the tender cuts of meat, taking it in as I sipped spoonfuls of the peppery soup. A great dish to warm up to on a cold day.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A standup place for Korean cuisine with a large group. A great meal, where everyone left with happy bellies, no complaints. Don’t deny your cravings.


5075 Kingsway, Burnaby BC, V5H 2E6
Jang Mo Jib Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Yaguchiya Ramen

We were looking for a quick and easy stop for ramen in the Burnaby area. Our travels led us to either one of two options across from Metrotown mall. Both newer ramen shops; both smaller, one-of restaurants.

We based our decision on the atmosphere of each, looking in through their front windows. The first was empty, so we walked to the next which had all but two tables seated. We were lucky enough to grab the last available seats without a wait.

The restaurant was left undecorated for the most part. A couple of orchids, a couple of lanterns, the word “ramen” spelled out in black letters, and I assume the restaurants name in kanji across the empty, adjacent wall. We grabbed a seat on their flat structured table with matching benches on either side.

Their menu was an easy read. Your six options spelled out in coloured photos. The traditional miso, shio, and shoyu are all represented, as well as a spicy version, and one for the vegans. Each bowl is available in regular, medium, and large. We asked, and our server was honest in informing us that the size increase only increases the noodles added, not the toppings to enjoy them it. Therefore we stuck with the regular, not that we needed more than that, giving how filling the serving was.

I got their “Yaguchiya special ramen”. Pork and chicken broth, with three slices of pork chashu, a whole seasoned egg, spinach, roasted seaweed, and leeks. The flavour was an herbaceous one; not bad, but not to my liking. I was surprised by how flavourful the pork meat was, despite its time floating in the broth and how bland its complexion was. The egg was the highlight. It had the perfect not fully a solid, and not quite a liquid texture at its core.

The same toppings in my bowl, found its way to my guest’s “Spicy ramen” as well. Just as well boiled el dente noodles, the same slightly runny poached egg, and crispy bean sprouts. Except his broth came with a light burn and an orangey hue from the use of kimchi. This too was a mix of pork and chicken broth, with pork chasu, spinach, and bean sprouts; but then the addition of shredded chilli pepper.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
It was an okay stop. A quick place for ramen, across form the mall. I wouldn’t make this a destination, nor would in purposely plan a trip back for more. Just an easy option in the neighbourhood. Don’t deny your cravings.


4679 Kingsway, Burnaby BC, V5H 2B3
Yaguchiya Ramen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Atlas Steak + Fish

Today I was invited as the plus one to a media dinner at “Atlas”. “Atlas Steak + Fish”, the new restaurant within the “Grand Villa Casino”, in Burnaby. I have been to the casino and visited the restaurant’s location on many occasions, prior. But back then it was branded as “Ebo” with a very different feel and menu.

And thanks to this faithful visit, it is now one of the restaurants I like recommending for a dressy night out in Burnaby. In fact, this post will cover two visits: the aforementioned media event in celebration of its opening; and my 2017 Christmas Eve dinner with my partner.

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

The entrance of the restaurant is within the casino. You enter through the main doors, then climb the staircase up. A turn to your left leads you to the casino floor; one to the right, your destination marked with an electronic billboard across from the hostess’ podium.

Being able to recall the restaurant that it once was, I immediately felt the space rejuvenated. New orange, blue, green, and grey carpet underfoot. New cream coloured couches and blue upholstered seats. And a couple of ceiling to floor wine walls with bottles balancing on pegs. Things were also a whole lot brighter with hanging bulbs in glass, focused spot lights, and copper piping that resembles the string of constellations in their logo. Other features including live music playing from a piano at the entrance; and the kitchen being open wide, with a full view of its operations from the dining room.

Their electronic and interactive menu lets you scroll through all their food and drink menus. Although, for those who prefer it analog, they offer the traditional fold out cardboard and paper as well. Though the latter doesn’t help you pair food with recommended drinks.


Like the “Agua de Valencia”, a cool and refreshing cocktail prepared with a dry English gin, fine orange liqueur, and a touch of orange. I reminded us of a salted mimosa. It was made for sipping.

I preferred the “Anejo old fashioned” more, enough to have another during this dinner and then come back for an additional glass on a later date. It was the sweetest and smoothest tequila based drink I have ever had. It featured a whisky charred tequila with dark aromatics, a touch of sweet agave, and is then finished off with flamed warm orange zest. I also appreciated the ice ball each glass came with, and your ability to swivel it menacingly.

The “Imperial pear” is great for those who like a lighter, fruitier beverage. Pear, sake, vodka, and a little fizz from soda water.

Their complimentary serving of bread to start is now one of my favourites. Fluffy buns served in the same cast iron pan it was baked in. And only a dedicate spread to pair with such a tasty roll will do. So they are presented with a blue cheese infused butter. It was salty with a strong cheesy flavour, and right up my alley.

For appetizers we shared the “Prawn cocktail”. And to our delight, the plump poached jumbo prawns were served hanging off a glass smoking from the use of liquid nitrogen. They were juicy and delicious, dipped in the gin infused cocktail sauce.

The “Salt spring island mussels and Manila clams” were prepared in a soupy sauce of fennel and smoked tomato. It was sweet and tangy with sausage slices added in for zing.

Their “Seasonal oysters” are a rotating selection, fresh and served on ice.

The “Steak tartar” is hand minced tenderloin with miso mustard, pickled daikon, a quail’s egg, and gnocco fritto. I liked the tartar alright, but could have done with a different type of base, instead of the hard fried bread puffs. I didn’t like the oil I tasted on them and how they contrasted with the clean finish of the tartar.

There are a few dishes prepared for you table side. An extra show with your meal, and a nod to the traditions that once existed. Once such was the “Caesar salad” at $13 per person. Everything is made from scratch, with the dressing hand whipped and the salad toss into it once mixed. Heart of romaine, parmegiano-reggiano, and the scratch made traditional Caesar dressing. If you don’t like the calories of a Caesar salad, they also have a “baby kale and spinach salad” for the same cost per person, served with a warm bacon and mustard vinaigrette with shiitake mushroom.

Their steak feature definitely has to be the “Double R Ranch tomahawk steak” served on bone. It will run you $120 with more than enough steak for two. The price also includes sides to go with it. The steak comes from family owned, “Double R Ranch”. Since 1968, “Snake River Farms” and “Double R Ranch” have been sourcing cattle from Nicola Valley in British Columbia. They hand-sort the best product so that “Atlas” can turn around and provide their guests with exceptional ranch-to-table beef. Trying this 48oz slab made me a believer. It was juicy with marbled fat. Great with the potatoes it comes with, but better with the add-on of truffled French fries.

The “Beef tenderloin” is available in a 6, 9, or 12oz portion. Our group of four planned on sharing so went big with the 12oz. We then took it to another level by requesting or steak with the “Oscar topping”. This is the addition of Dungeness crab, grilled asparagus, and a béarnaise sauce for an extra level of decadence. It added a creaminess and gave the stab of meat a new texture and taste to prolong our enjoyment of it.

The “Chilli rubbed cowboy steak” came in a 16oz. Its spicy rub draws out the juiciness of the USDA prime cut. And apparently it is all grilled in a special oven to gain the specific and desired char.

The “Tomahawk pork chop” also comes from “Snake River Farms”. A kurobuta pork chop, smoked pork belly, and an apple relish; served with a side of warm potato salad. It is a juicy piece of pork with an enjoyable sweetness, thanks to the apple and the caramelizing of the belly fat. The meat had a marbling similar wagyu and as a result was some of the juiciest I have ever had. I typically stay away from ordering pork for the fear of it being dry, this wasn’t a problem with this medium aged pork chop from Montreal.

The “Brome lake duck breast” is prepared with five spice, and served with pan roasted sweet potato, and an apple slaw. The sides too gave this a nice sweetness. I have no complaints for such a juicy and rich piece of meat.

With it all we ordered some seafood sides, to make our meal a little more “surf and turf”. Each “accompaniment” came out on their own, separate cast iron pans.

The “Grilled Atlantic lobster tail” included a dish of butter melted in a special apparatus, kept warm and melted by a flickering tea light. The tail was juicy, made richer by a good dunk in liquid butter.

The “Garlic jumbo prawns” were no different from the chilled appetizer version in quality and girth. Just seasoned with a nice garlicky flavour instead.

The “Pan seared sea scallops” were huge. Juicy rounds with nice crispy edges.

And the “Alaskan king crab legs” were easy to pry flesh from shell.

I liked the texture of the crispy “Tempura softshell crab”. Although it was a little too salty for my taste.

Their feature dessert, and the one to order is the “Baked Alaska”, which is flambéd for you table-side. This is a ball of raspberry coconut ice cream, lemon sorbet, orange vanilla cake, and Italian meringue. It is lightly spritz over with alcohol, which is then lit on fire. The blue flame that engulfs it after is quite the showcase. It doesn’t last, but gives the meringue a nice char. As for flavour, I found it a little too sweet and too tangy from the tart raspberry sorbet. A great dessert to try, but the next is one I would come back for.

The “Apple galette” was served baked warm, topped with a bourbon maple caramel sauce and candied pecans. This delicious flakey crust and sticky syrup combination is a winner. But it was the savoury rosemary ice cream that tied it all together and made it memorable for me.

I also found the “Vietnamese coffee parfait” too sweet and a bit too rich to finish on my own. I liked its concept and the assembly of espresso chocolate mousse, dark chocolate brownie, coffee jelly, condensed milk ice cream, coconut biscotti, cocoa nibs, and Bailey Irish cream together. There were a few spoonfuls where there was an overwhelming flavour of spice. But it was helped along by the biscotti-like short bread, to balance flavours out.

The “Salted caramel creme brûlée” was so good that I recommended it to my partner the next time I returned to “Atlas” with him. This was his first try of the classic cream dessert, but knowing his love of salted caramel, this was a guarantee win. It is baked sous-vide and served with a chocolate dipped biscotti, for those who like a little crunch with their pudding-like desserts. He enjoyed it as much as I did my first time.

As I mentioned, I liked the place enough to recommend it to my partner, when we were looking for last minute, Christmas Eve dinner locations. During this latest visit I was able to reaffirm my original assessment as a regular diner, as well as taste their limited time only “Festive season feature menu”.

The feature entree was the “Turkey duo”, a fun interpretation of a traditional turkey dinner with stuffing and cranberry sauce. Josper smoked breast and sous-vide thigh roll with a brioche chorizo and apricot stuffing, jus gras, and cranberries. The portion was generous though I wished for a 1:1 ratio of meat round to stuffing disc. Instead you had three slices of turkey meat and two pucks of packed stuffing. The turkey roll was juicy and very flavourful, the stuffing cakey with a sweet and fluffy texture. The cranberry a nice pop of acid, lending its sweetness to round out the plate.

Keeping with the fowl theme, my partner had the “Josper smoked chicken breast”. Free run chicken breast, shiitake peppercorn sauce, and roasted potatoes. He was leaning towards one of the steaks originally, but eventually made his decision based on the sides that this juicy white meat chicken would come with. The rub on it tasted like bacon, giving it a nice crispy skin. Though I found the chicken to be on the drier side. I liked my turkey a lot more. Although my partner declared his chicken the better of the two.

For dessert I throughly enjoyed the “Buche de noel”, though sadly I will not get another taste of it, due to its seasonal availability. It felt like you were eating Christmas on a plate. It didn’t looking like a lot, but this was just the right amount of food to leave you satisfied, yet wanting more. Gingerbread cake, marscarpone cream, dark chocolate, and candy cane ice cream. Juicy and tart toasted goose berry, crispy toffee to bite into, a spongy roll to melt on your tongue, and the perfect creamy and minty ice cream to cleanse your palette with, in between bites.

During this visit, our entrees were taking longer than expected to arrive. So one of our two dedicated servers came by to offer us a side salad to tide us over. I rejected his offer, as we both don’t like salads, and despite being able to enjoy the show, the food would have gone to waste. So during his second time around he offered and we accepted some wine that they would buy us. I had a 9oz glass of white and my partner some in the sparkling variety. This was a generous offer and a show of their level of service and standards. That and the fact that we had two servers attend to us and the manager and hostess clearing our empty plates and checking in on our meal throughout our stay. That and being situated right next to the piano with their pianist playing winter carols, made us feel quite like VIPs.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
A great place for a night out in Burnaby. And with the casino adjacent, you have your next date night destination all under one roof. Don’t deny your cravings.


4331 Dominion Street, Burnaby BC, V5G 1C7
Atlas Steak + Fish Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Big Star Sandwich Co.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


3736 Canada Way, Burnaby BC, V5G 1G4
Big Star Sandwich Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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