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

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Grapes & Soda

I have been meaning to check this bar out, so when looking for an after dinner drinking spot, in the South Granville area, we headed down to “Grapes and Soda”. And to our delight, their head bartender, 2018 best bartender of the year, as voted by “Vancouver Magazine”, was behind the counter mixing tonight.

With its patterned vinyl on the all windowed exterior, you can’t really tell what’s within, if not for the bottle cap logo on the sandwich board, and the flag hanging off the side of the building.

Inside, the little space is a lot more intricate. It has a similar vibe to all the other dark and intimate bars I am familiar with, in the Chinatown area. It leads with a well stocked shelves, 3.5 rows of bottles packed in together tight, and a collection of botanicals and bitters on the counter to speak to their mixing program. The restaurant is spooky and dark, with cozy space saving pockets, and parchment wrapped lights, offering a little illumination. Seating runs down the length of the room, across from the actual bar that continued into their kitchen. Our group of 5 shimmied into the booth by the door.

Interestingly, on the back of the menu was a message, making note of the drawers under each table. Guests were encourage to use these as a place to house their cellphones, a place to put them away securely, and to not be tempted to pull them out for the duration of your stay. However, the fear would be then forgetting them there.

When it came time to order I went for one of their soda cocktails, considering this was their specialty and name sake. Today’s special was a red coloured soda with umeshu, gin, lime, whey, and shiso. They are premixed and pre bottled, served with a glass of ice and bottle opener. It was a easy drink with hints of plum and lime. I didn’t get any of the distinctive shiso flavour though, not that I wanted any.

I liked the look of the wide and short coupe that the “Tempest” cocktail came in. Blackberry, mezcal, coffee, lime, egg white, and a chilli tincture.

The “Lassi legal” drank like a creamy dessert. Kaffir lime, cachaca, kefir, coconut, cucumber, mint, and cilantro.

They can also mix up any of your favourite classic cocktails like this “Spanish gin & tonic”. Basically, anything but a highball, as they don’t carry grocery store sodas like coke or sprite.

We didn’t order any food, but for those looking for a light snack to accompany their drinks they do small plates. Bread and charcuterie boards, vegetable heavy seasonal dishes like cauliflower, peas, and zucchini; and fruit forward desserts like Mille feuille and strawberries and rhubarb with ice cream.

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.
A fun place for some creative cocktails in the South Granville area, and out of downtown Vancouver. I would love to frequent here if not for the need to travel via skytrain and bus to and from, if I plan to drink multiple glasses. Don’t deny your cravings.

1537 West 6th Avenue, Vancouver BC 6J

Go Blue at Fiore

From July 18-29, 2019 South Granville is giving foodies a reason to trek up and down the strip, with their “Go Blue” festival. This is South Granville’s first ever blueberry-themed event. Over the next 10 days, a number of restaurants will feature BC blueberries in limited edition menus. And the retailers who don’t offer food, will be celebrating blueberries in their own way.

On the first day of the festival we were at “Fiore” where they had plenty of blueberries across their drinks, appetizers, entrées, and desserts. This cute little Italian restaurant, just off 12th avenue, is a bit of a hidden gem. They are brought to you by the same owners of “The Stable House Bistro”, another South Granville staple. Their goal is to make the neighbourhood more lively, and I can attest to that considering I use to work in the area and before the two, there were very little options in terms of where to eat or drink.

“Fiore” is a smaller restaurant, ideal for intimate conversations. Their space is pretty straightforward with wood tables, over a hard wood floor, and faux leather booths towards the back. The most memorable part of their decor was the central light fixture, outfitted with an arrangement of dried plant life. It set the tone of our rustic meal to come.

We got right to the blueberries, starting with their two themed cocktails. The “Blueberry negroni” with blueberry infused lillet, blueberry gin, and Campari. And the sparkling “Blanc de blue” cocktail with blueberry infused lillet and Prosecco. Both were a beautiful bluish-purple from the fruit’s colouring.

For appetizers they had two salads finished with blueberries. We got the “blueberry panzenella, with fresh blueberries, grape tomatoes, arugula, focaccia, and blueberry vinaigrette. It was a salad described as having plenty of croutons by our server, which sounded right up my alley.

Their antipasti platter also came with blueberries, a few in the compote that the single arancini ball (small fried ball of rice coated in breadcrumbs), sat it. The platter varies and today ours came with a lentil salad with pickled onion, a green fennel salad with smoked Gouda, a Spanish salsa, their housemade sausage patty, pepperoni slices, crusty garlic bread, and a dish of olive oil and balsamic. This was a lot for $20, and if you want more, they have a $40 and $60 board available for greater sharing.

Their blueberry entree is a “Blueberry and balsamic pork roulade”, served with summer vegetable and fried polenta. It was a fulsome dish with plenty of depth, well balanced by each thoughtful side. Juicy pork, starchy polenta with nice crunch, fresh green salad, and a sweet blueberry sauce.

For those who don’t want blueberries, their regular menu is also available. Like their “popular arancini ball”, similar to our one above, but with three times as many, and a beet gelee to enjoy it with. And you can’t tell in this photo, but each round is dyed pink on the inside from additional beet juice. Crispy and light, this made for a great tasty start.

The “Pappardelle bolognese” is one of their more popular pasta dishes with tender noodles coated in a slightly sweet tomato sauce, finished with salty Parmesan.

Their risotto is a lighter rendition of the firm, yet saucy, classic Italian rice dish. It is topped with mint, zucchini, and parsnip.

We were too full for dessert, but there is more blue to be had there. For more blueberry focused dishes, and what each restaurant is bringing to the table visit the link below.



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 great intimate spot for classic Italian in the neighbourhood. And I am glad that they need other South Granville restaurants are giving diners additional reasons to visit them this summer. What a creative campaign. Don’t deny your cravings.

1485 West 12th Avenue, Vancouver Bc

Café Salade de Fruits

Today I was at a lovely Parisian cafe, hidden within one of the side streets along South Granville. A hot spot for locals given the number of tables filled at random this Thursday afternoon. And each of them well taken care of with all the plenty of staff in branded tees on hand.

The smaller space is packed tight with seating to maximize their capacity. Booths by the wall, four tops by the window; and two rows of narrow tables between them both, side by side for convertible seating. Or you can grab a seat outside on their decent sized patio. Indoor, each table has a metal street sign screwed on to it. A way to pass on their personality and their French heritage.

Similarly, the restaurant is decorated with French themed artifacts and knick knacks. A cork art piece arranged to look like France. A few Eiffel towers crafted from different mediums. The blue, white, and red flag; and a lot more French street signs. A faux brick facade fronts the kitchen. Behind its peek-a-boo pass you can see two chefs in black working with stainless steel, to a citronella green motif.

The menu is printed in both French and English and is pretty straight forward. I liked how there were many specials of the day, offering variation to regulars at reasonable prices. A sandwich, soup, crepe, omelette, quiche, and pasta. We would stick to the French classics, for my first taste.

The “Garlic and butter escargots” were perfection. So much minced garlic and melted buttery goodness to sop up with the slices of baguette. And if you don’t like the idea of eating snails, you couldn’t tell what they were here. Chewy bites of escargot with no additional flavour outside of the garlic and butter.

The mussels were a classic, we paired it with a side of fries over salad. There was plenty of flavour in the soupy broth, more butter and garlic to enjoy with more bread. So tasty that I could have just drank it as is. The mussels were well prepared, the perfect vessel for the sauce. And the thin cut fries had a similar flavour when dipped into its side of garlic cream.

I was surprised by how much I liked the “Deep fried calamari”, especially considering it was gluten free. The thin veil of batter actually had me enjoying the perfectly soft and chewy texture of the squid a lot more. It wasn’t greasy, and you didn’t feel bogged down after eating half a bowl of it. I would order this one again.


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 really great spot to have a simple and delicious meal at. I would love to try more of their offerings to get a more fulsome picture of their food, but so far I like everything we had. Don’t deny your cravings.


1545 W 7th Avenue, Vancouver BC, V6J 1S1

Edge Yuandian tea and juice bar

Looking for an after dinner dessert option, my guest suggested the newly opened bubble tea place “Edge Yuandian tea and juice bar”. Truth be told, she sold me by describing its decor.

With all the other places for bubble tea in Vancouver you have to find a way to stand out, and here, “Edge” certainly has… or should I say, they have an “edge” in the game. Their pink cafe screams Instagram worthy, with a great selfie being reason enough to visit.

A minimalist approach on furnishings, but where they shine is in their decoration. One pink wall featured a collection of blown glass vases, empty and hung in disarray; they looked like bubbles coming from out of the wall.

The other had pastel rainbow cotton tuffs, clouds in this candy sweet wonderland. We were able to take our photos uninterrupted, by coming early and avoiding the after dinner crowd. As the only bubble tea game in the area for miles around, I can imagine them the popular kid on the block. And seeing this installation live I can definitely recommend coming down to see it in person.

As for the drinks, I didn’t find them especially different from anything or anywhere else, although the pearls were solid. My lactose allergic friend got one of their black teas with coconut milk and the traditional tapioca pearls. It was as expected, overwhelming with the distinct flavour of coconut. She ordered it with less ice and less sugar, opting for the ability to customize her drink further.

I had the Matcha milk with fresh strawberry and pearls. This, after a long agonizing decision on what to get. They had a few interesting sounding combinations to consider. But ultimately I made my choice based on what looked most appealing to me. A choice made easier with their collection of photos on an iPad. Each photo gave you more than just what the menu listed them as, with some names being more mysterious than other’s: “Avocado panna cotta”, “twin stars”, and “pink teddy”. They didn’t have an English description, but a line of Chinese character/, so you are forced to ask the clerk behind the counter what things are, if you are ordering based on taste.

The actual drink was matcha heavy, what I thought would be a creamy tea based beverage, was actually light like matcha powder stirred into luke warm milk. Luckily the strawberry chunks that it comes with and the addition of pearls that I ordered, made the drink more interesting. I enjoyed all the chewing through watery mouthfuls. But what I didn’t consider was how the drink looses something when you do as the clerk says, and stir it all together before you drink.


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 great edition for bubble tea fans in the area. Pretty drinks in one heck of a whimsical setting. Don’t deny your cravings.


106-950 West Broadway, Vancouver BC, V5Z 1K7

Dalina Broadway

“Dalina”, the healthy Vancouver snack stop is soon to open their second location on Broadway. A fair bit smaller that their original, this posh cafeteria of sorts is sure to become the lunch time favourite of many who live and work in the neighbourhood.

Like their original location in Chinatown, the new restaurant features meals to go and snacks to take away. Freshly made salads, sandwiches, and wraps. As well pastries, doughnuts, and other baked goods. For drinks they offer up artisanal coffees, superfood smoothies, and kombucha on tap.

The vision was to provide Vancouverites with their own “grab-and-go style eatery”, the solution for busy people who don’t always have time to prepare wholesome and delicious meals for themselves. Full meals to enjoy at your desk, in your home, or within their space. And best of all, for the daily diners, most of their menu items are affordable ranging between $10-$15. And always presented in compostable packaging. They also have your catering needs covered with meeting and party ready trays with weekday office delivery.

So today, four days before their official opening, myself and a room full of others were invited to check out the new space and the same solid menu before they opened to the public. Truth be told, I haven’t actually ever visited their original location. When in that area and looking for a meal, I figured that their collection of baked goods and pre package salads won’t scratch any of my food itches. So to be able to learn that I was wrong first hand, here, was a treat.

The room is tiled in white, it gave the place a sterile feel. It was how clean you want the same tile in your bathroom and local swimming pool to be. It ran all around their bar/service counter. And behind it staff dressed in their branded tees poured alcoholic beverages and brewed up cups of caffeinated drinks. During regular hours of operation, this will also be where options are read off their over head menu and orders are paid for and placed. During this launch attendees enjoyed glasses of wine and beer, however the Broadway cafe won’t actually be able to pour until they get their liquor license in the spring. But you can enjoy artisan coffee and espressos in their branded cups for here or to go.

To its left is a glass counter with a healthy selection of baked goods. Where, I made sure to try a few of their delicious looking doughnuts. Thick and chewy cream filled and frosted doughnuts in matcha, French vanilla, chocolate banana, and espresso. There was also chocolate cake with frosting, cookies crammed with seeds and nuts for a filling snack, and moist in the centre slices of cakey loaves.

Right in front of this is their limited seating. A booth runs along the wall with small tables and loose chairs set facing it. If you follow them all the way to the entrance you will see a series of refrigerated units. These house their prepackaged meals and grocery staples for pick up and sale. From box salads, and yogurt cups to fresh made then frozen pastas and soups.

The following is a collection of what I tried this night. It is worth noting that the baked goods are sourced from local vendors, and it is the prepackaged meals that are exclusive to them. Overall, I was surprised by how good the vegan options tasted and how satisfying the healthier options were. Everything I had was so flavourful and I felt better indulging in it.


Guests grazed on charcuterie and roasted vegetable boards which make the perfect tray for a potluck or to impressive at any party. Cured meats, hard cheeses, and pickled vegetables for self serving.

There were also small bites being served. Like the Tahini and eggplant farro salad. A zesty and filling morsel that had a nice chew to it, with notes of curry spices.

I preferred the juicier beet and goat cheese salad. Firm, naturally sweet red beets tasty with the pairing of sharp cheese.

Sundried tomato and goat cheese quiches and ones with smoked salmon. Both with fluffy egg and a buttery pie crusts.

I really enjoyed their prosciutto and fresh vegetable filled croissants. Surprisingly the latter more than the former. The neutral vegetable allowed the delicious flakiness of the  croissant to show through more.

Similarly the focaccia sandwiches were delicious because of the herb bread sandwiching either roasted vegetable or slices of meat. Surprisingly I really enjoyed the one that combined an olive tapenade and crunchy broccoli together.

For dessert fresh cream filled cannolis came around. A show stopper with green pistachio cream and candied orange peels.

The flourless chocolate fudge with caramel beads was gluten free and a hit with the room. Chewy and chocolatey.

And the burlee lemon tart a great refreshing way to end your meal and cleanse your palate.


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 great place for a convenient meal, and a great additional to the area. Tasty and healthy options that won’t break the bank, leaving you feeling energized and satisfied throughout the day. Don’t deny your cravings.


92 West Broadway, Vancouver BC, V5Z 1K7
#Destinationdelina #Delinabroadway.

Banana Leaf, Dine Out Menu 2019

Tired of over priced and overly busy Chinese restaurants for Chinese New Year, my mother sought Malaysian cuisine for this year’s celebratory dinner. So we found ourselves at the long standing chain, “Banana Leaf”; and just in time to take advantage of their $35 Dine Out menu, on its last day.

It has been a while since my last visit. I am a fan of Malaysian cuisine, but don’t find their rendition of it the most authentic. So was surprised to see how they have updated their space walking in. The once green and yellow exterior was now hiding a chic new dining area. White walls, sea foam booths, and a collection of dark wood artifacts around the room. The decorative greenery gave the space some life. I didn’t visit the washroom, but was able to spot the eye catching, green banana leaf print that papered it from my seat. It was quite the pun. As a whole, the space was updated and the brand breathed anew because of it.

As for our meal, their Dine Out menu wasn’t the typical pick and choose 3 course menu like at all the other restaurants participating, (that I have encountered). This was a set meal with no substitutions, and a minimum required spend of 2 servings. Although both the appetizer and entree course came with 3 different dishes, served together. Which gives the diner a total of 9 courses for $35.

We came as a family of 7, each ordering the $35 menu, and for the most part we shared two full servings of each course, family style. I did the math, and ordering this special menu versus the regular plates off the regular menu, is a better deal. Majority of what is offered on this menu is also available on their regular menu; thus making it a good way to dip your toe into Malaysian cuisine, or to try a new restaurant at a fair price.

We started with our own individual serving of “Indonesian gado salad”. Cooked bean sprouts, tofu, cucumber, potato, green bean, and egg; coated in a sweeter satay peanut sauce. It was tasty, but I could have used more texture in my salad. I found it too juicy with all the bean sprouts. I wanted some chew from dried tofu or some crunch from crushed peanuts. It was a good start, but it felt incomplete.

The rest was served shared style in their full serving plates, like the “Nyonya Calamari” served our 7 across two full plates. Crispy fried calamari with a sweet chilli sauce dip. It was your standard breaded and deep fried squid offered in modern chains and at Greek restaurants. Out side of the sweet and tangy dipping sauce I didn’t see how this was “Nyonya” style, the term coming from a group of nomadic Malaysian tribes.

The “Gulai clams” is not on their regular menu. Steamed clams sitting in a pool of their sweet, yellow, coconut curry. It was good, juicy clams in a slightly spicy broth. I enjoyed the roti we ordered below best when dipped into this, using it to wipe the bowl clean.

I completely disliked the “Curry spiced oysters”, to the point that I couldn’t swallow and had to spit it out. I am not a fan of the fishy flavour of cooked oysters. I can eat them raw, but find them rancid tasting when cooked and fried in oil that exemplifies this. Breaded and deep fried oysters, seasoned in curry spices, served with a green leaf salad on the side. Everyone else found them just fine.

I liked the “Lemongrass grilled giant prawns”. Giant grilled tiger prawns seasoned with lemongrass, garlic, palm sugar, fish sauce, and scallions. Minus the hassle of peeling the shell, I would gladly eat a plate of this again.

I liked the presentation of the “Sambal sockeye” grilled in banana leaf. You unfolded the green leaf to discover a cut up sockeye fillet, seasoned in sambal chilli sauce, lemon grass, dried paste, curry spices, and okra. It had a good flavour to them, but I am not a big fan of cooked salmon. Though did enjoy it with a serving of the rice below.

The “Turmeric rice” was fragrant, great on its own and better as a base. I want to learn how to make this for myself.

The “10 veggie and 10 spices” was also a nice accompaniment to the rice. A collection of diced vegetables in a creamy curry-like sauce. I was able to make out chunks of squash, peas, green beans, carrots, red and yellow peppers, taro, tomato, and okra. So tasty that I didn’t miss meat in this, but got my fix below anyhow.

“Thai sweet chilli chicken”, simple and delicious, juicy dark meat nuggets. The red and yellow peppers played off its sweet sauce.

For dessert our $35 set came with “Kuih dadar”, pandan crepes with grated coconut. But luckily I asked if we could get a split order, wanting half of our desserts to be the “Pandan coconut panna cotta” from off their $25 menu. The “Kuih dadar” was not as expected. I liked their neon green colour and how soft and chewy the crepe was, but the filling was off putting. It looked like minced meat or as my partner put it, “the bottom of a container of bacon bits”. It tasted as gritty as it looked, coating the mouth like sand, with a burnt after taste.

By comparison the “Pandan coconut panna cotta” was much better. It looked pretty with its layers of white and green jello-pudding, topped with a mango compote, gula melaka syrup, and a single tart cranberry. It tasted like mango and coconut pudding mostly. Whereas I didn’t get enough pandan flavouring. I also didn’t need the sweet syrup, it almost took away from the lighter fruit flavours.

Having seen our dislike of their crepe, our server was kind enough to offer us more servings of the panna cotta, so that everyone could have one glass jar in full. We fully appreciated the gesture and service.

As additional sides to share we also got three servings of the “Roti canai”, a favourite of those familiar with the chain. It was served split between two plates, so my photos shows a one and a half serving. Flaky layered bread prepared with evaporated milk, egg, flour, and butter; served with a sweet and lumpy peanut dip. It was like a layered pancake, tasty on its own, but dipping it into sauces is what makes it.

“Baba’s chicken wing”, Peranakan’s marinated chicken wings, lightly breaded, deep fried in curry spices. It was a clean and dry wing. Didn’t get any of the listed curry spices, it was more a simple pepper and salt seasoning.

The “Vegetable spring rolls” were filled with jicama roots, carrot, cabbage, celery, green bean, turmeric, white pepper, sesame oil, sweet chilli sauce, and pickled red cabbage. It had a curry flavour to it, which was over powered by the sweet dipping sauce that it came with. Not my favourite flavour from a spring roll, but it at least had a nice crispy texture.


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.
Approachable Malaysia food made easier with a set menu that gives you a little bit of everything and takes the guess work out of the equation for you. Having Malaysian food in Malaysia I cannot say this measures up, I was missing punchier ingredients and more pronounced seasoning. Good, but didn’t hit the spot the same. Recommend for those new to the cuisine and for those who prefer milder flavours. Don’t deny your cravings.


820 West Broadway, Vancouver BC, V5Z 1J8
Banana Leaf Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Guy Fieri at Peaceful Restaurant

“Food Network” celebrity, Guy Fieri was in Vancouver shooting for his latest television series. In it he revisits his favourite stops along his travels, while looking for the best “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives”. And I just so happened to be at the original “Peaceful Restaurant”, when he popped in. No words needed to be spoken, you could tell something was happening in the restaurant tonight. The camera crew, the large spot lights, and the cherry red convertible rolling up with a “FLVRTWN” license plate. Not to mention all the well dressed staff on shift today and the owner and his entire family present and ready to serve customers and prepare food. And it is not surprising that tonight I have had some of the best service, and the best meal from them to date.

For those unfamiliar with “Peaceful” they are the well known and beloved Sichuan restaurant that is delicious and approachable. A friendly spot that anyone unfamiliar with Chinese food, or is too intimidated to visit a restaurant with its name only written in Chinese characters; can come to and order exactly what they want and how they want it. Cut and paste Chinese food with an easy to read menu and plenty of photos. The restaurant takes into consideration their customers taste. More spice, less chilli, or additional salt. It is no wonder this winning recipe has earned them international recognition and additional locations all across the Lower Mainland.

The cafe on Broadway by Cambie is their first location, the original one that Guy first visited and helped launch all those years ago. With his endorsement he was able to help propel this family run business into the multi chain organization that they are today. And it was nice to be within the restaurant when the two parties (Guy and Charlie the chef and owner) reminisced about it all.

The filming was done in the kitchen, where Chef Charlie offered up newer dishes and sought Guy’s opinion on them. There was tasting and talking before the shaking of hands. The Guy was gone, just as quick as he came. But not before posing for a few photos and tagging the wall, just like he did 6 years ago.

When it came time for me to have my meal, we took our time and stayed much longer. The staff were friendly, and very hospitable. I heard servers ask about preferences when talking orders , and returning a couple more times to check on dinner and if they can be of further assistance.

I wanted what Guy got to try so ordered the two below. “Sichuan thousand chilli chicken”. Crispy chicken stir fried with dried peppers, peppercorns, garlic, ginger, green onion, green beans, and crispy potatoes (which is a new twist they are taking on this dish). It looks a lot more spicy and intimating than it really was. If you avoid the red chillies, you avoided the heat. Therefore the dish took work to eat, can’t just scoop and plop a spoonful into your mouth. Being caught off guard by a peppercorn or two, isn’t all that fun. But the menu gave you fair warning. They called this dish “tongue tingling” and that it was. I did like the rest of the ingredients. The ratio of batter to chicken was great, enough for crunch, without hiding the actual flavour of chicken. The beans were firm and the flavour complimentary to the nuggets of meats and the slivers of garlic. As my guest put it, this was a well balance meal with meat, vegetable, and starch; you just needed dairy.

“Xian steamed cold noodle” was the other dish we tried cause Guy did. I love a good thick and chewy noodle, so was excited to try some of “Peaceful’s” house made version today. When ordering it, our hostess spoke to how the dough for this is prepared. It is washed before it is cut into strips. And is then boiled and a thorough dressing with a garlic vinaigrette that includes sesame oil and tahini. The result, a chilled tart and tangy dish, with a warming chilli spice. Our hostess was also quick to boast that their freshly made chilli oil is what makes all the difference in this, and she was right. Great as a summer plate or a appetizer to kickstart your appetite.

And what put them on the map during Guy’s last visit, and the dish he helped familiarized: the “Peaceful beef roll”. Slices of beef and strips of chives roll together with a sweet and tangy sauce in a chewy green onion pancake. Altogether a great combination. It is worth nothing that everything in this, and everything else on the menu is made in house, except the rice cakes.

My favourite dish of the night was the “Peaceful house stir fried noodles”. Seared noodles, fish, shrimp, squid, pork, and vegetables; all coated in a chilli garlic sauce. It has a really great flavour that fully coats each slurp-able noodle strand. I liked the texture of the squishy squid with it, but found the BBQ pork a little much, whereas the fish was hard to notice all together.

And when it is handmade in house and on the menu, you have to get the classic “Xiao long bao”. These steamed pork and chive filled dumplings were deliciously moist, one bite morsels filled with warm soup. They were so soft that they almost melt under your tongue.

It turns out the owner’s daughter was working front of house tonight, and she was actually the one tending to us. Upon learning this fact, I took the opportunity to chat her up some. We discussed the universality of their Sichuan cuisine. And the fact that they are the Chinese food chain that is welcoming for everyone. She seemed proud, as her dad and brother dawned their chef’s uniforms, and her mother sat in the dining area taking it all in. What a cool experience and a great day to play the fly on the wall.


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.
Same assessment as the last time I visited. A solid choice for quick and easy Chinese, made all the more special tonight. Don’t deny your cravings.


532 West Broadway, Vancouver BC

Downlow Chicken Shack

There isn’t much that my partner and I agree on food wise. Whereas I am an adventurous diner, he is more cautious when it comes to what goes into his mouth. Although when it comes to fried chicken, it is something we can both enjoy. Therefore we have been meaning to check out this new deep fried chicken place for a while now.

When “Down Low” originally opened they kept irregular hours, testing the waters of the Vancouver food scene. They stayed open until they sold out of their chicken, meaning we would park and walk to the front only to be turned away. Almost half a year later, here we were entertaining a late lunch. It took a Friday afternoon between lunch and dinner to get a bite with them. And they were still as popular and as busy as ever, and based on the chicken we enjoyed, I can see why. By 3:30pm there were plenty of bodies dining in and even more taking out. With two working the floors, three behind the counter and two more fronting the deep fryer. Each employee dawned a black tee with their logo bold on the back.

This was a chicken giving you the side eye, a cheeky stare, knowing full well what he was offering you how he would have you hooked. The same chicken graced the restaurant’s front window with a yellow beak and red crown. If you are enamoured by his grin you can take him and it home on some of the restaurant’s merchandise in the form of tee shirts and ball caps.

They are available at the back, the same place where you ordered and pay. You engage with the clerk seated at the very end of the restaurant. Today, she was nursing a sprained foot and resting it high on milk crates. She did a great job, giving you all the options and ensuring you got exactly what you wanted. Then shouting it out to those working behind the open kitchen. Like her, everyone else I spoke to was friendly, cordial, and as chill as the setting. All set to a nice mix of hip hop: loud and full of base thumping beats.

You pay and then pick your seat, where your food is quickly brought out to you. Benches outside on their patio, or high tops inside, against all the open windows.

We ordered the half chicken as I like dark meat and my partner likes white. This cost us $17 instead of $19 together. I didn’t take note of the heat level on the menu up front, so ordered the chicken “mild” only to realize this gave things “just a dusting of heat”, whereas I wanted the classic: dredged and fried without chilli. And sadly it was this, the seasoning, on the thick breading that had me liking it less. I am positive that if I had the “classic” I would have liked it much more. At least the meat at the centre was juicy and the breading crunchy, despite my mini photo shoot and allowing it to cool before we took our first bites. My partner however, really enjoyed the chicken here, and more so in his burger below. He declared that when it comes to flavour and size nothing else comes close to this in the city.

My partner loves a good chicken sandwich, so wanted to try their chicken “on a bun”, as well This is their “Hot chicken sandwich” made with white meat chicken breast, their DL sauce, sweet n sour slaw, and house pickles. Given the use of a whole slab of chicken breast, it was  a little hard to get a full bite around, but I preferred it and its ratio of breading to meat than the serving above. It was also nice to see and have more meat than bread, whereas many such burgers has it the other way around. The slaw offered a nice balancing and creamy crunch, and the pickles a refreshing tang to lighten up the meal. I appreciated the clump above and more of them on the side here.

My partner ordered some fries as a side. He didn’t find them all that great, likening the crinkle cut potato sticks to the frozen McCain version. Although at “Down Low” they managed to give them new vitality with a dusting of the “mild” spices and a generous squeeze from their bottle of house mayo. As tasty as the sweet and tangy mayo was, it was just as heavy as everything else, so much so that I was craving some ketchup for freshness.

I like a good corn bread so was excited to try their version listed as being made with “honey and butter”. However it was a dry brick of cheese and jalapeño. Another spicy element to this meal, whereas I could have really used some sweetness from this, as a break from all the bold flavours. And sadly the texture was crumbly, the dough dry from elongated exposure under a heat lamp. There, each square proceeded to cook, wrapped in wax paper oozing with grease that saturated the sheet. Needless to say, we each took a bite and didn’t bother to finish it.

In hind sight, instead of the fries or the cornbread, we should have gotten the creamy and cooling macaroni salad or the crunchy and juicy coleslaw. Either would have acted as a nice cleanser in between bites, helping to balance everything and increase my longevity for the meal before me. Without either, I found myself drinking cups and cups of water from their self serve water station. Overall I did find things on the saltier side.

After we ate our fill, I wanted to get a new box and amalgamate all that we couldn’t finish into it. However an extra box would have been $1 more. So instead, we got a brown paper bag to take our current greasy boxes home in. Despite my disappointment, I did appreciated how one of the managers took the time to explain the reasoning for the cost, with his apologies. He explained that these compostable boxes are the restaurant’s most expensive cost. And they are currently looking for a more reasonable distributor and cost, so that he doesn’t have to seem like he is “cheap”, when customers (like my self) ask for another box; one that he can give to them freely.


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.
Fried chicken is one of those dishes that almost everyone likes, and great fried chicken is on everyone’s list. Therefore this, with its original flavour, one that I have never tasted before, is worth sharing with others. I would skip the sides, but definitely declare that the chicken as is and in between a bun is definitely worth trying. And best late at night after some drinking, whereas it was hard having it for our breakfast this morning. Don’t deny your cravings.


905 Commercial Drive, Vancouver BC, V5L 3W8

Ugly Dumpling

On this night we learned that there aren’t many restaurants in Vancouver or Burnaby, out side of downtown, that are open past 10pm on a Friday night. And after a few closed doors and a few minutes of being too late after closing time, we finally stumbled on “Ugly Dumpling”. Both my guests have read about this new dumpling shop so were keen on trying it for themselves. I was just glad that I didn’t have to drive downtown, and simply liked how fun the name was.

It is a corner shop, residing at the old home of “Merchant’s oyster shop”. And walking in there is no missing where you were. A black outlined drawing by the door spells it out clear. “The Ugly Dumpling”. There is a bowl of ramen surrounded by sketches of garlic, a bean sprouts, star anise, ginger root, and a single dumpling. But ironically they didn’t actually offer ramen on either of their menus.

The restaurant has a bistro vibe, with the bar housing bottles of wine and sake, as well as preservatives in mason jars. Similar jars kept crayons in packs at the hostess booth. They were given out to tables in conjunction with their menus. Their paper menus doubled as a colouring book featuring their dumpling mascot in every scene. It was depicted enjoying fine wine and better spirits. I made sure to colour it and his adventures in full Crayola vision.

Coming one hour to the closing of their kitchen had us missing out on their dumplings of the day, and apparently these were the only ones available throughout the day: a pork and dried shittake. Immediately this caught me as strange, seeing as their name promised “dumplings”, and to only make available just the one variety on any given day seemed odd. Odd enough for me to propose this very concern to our server. My disbelief had me questioning her answer twice, that indeed there were no other dumplings in the house for me to partake in. I was disappointed and forced to order something else begrudging. I did this only to be later told by another server that they actually have a vegetarian dumpling available. So naturally, despite already finishing our meal, we had to tack on a serving of their vegetable dumplings as “dessert”.

These steamed vegetable dumplings were stuffed with bamboo shoots, ginger, cabbage, mushroom, noodle and egg. I liked the originality and the variety of filling, but I didn’t like the grainier texture with the ingredients all minced together. As for the flavour it was “pungent with the bamboo” according to my guest. I found it pretty standard with a good dip into the sauce on the side.


For my main I wasn’t really hungry, but given that majority of their offerings were side plates like pickles and salads in the double digit price range, I opted to just order something more substantial to get my most out of my money.

The “Manila clams in kimchi soup” were more clam in a spicy sauce than actual soup. Whereas reading its name, I wanted more soup to slurp on than clams to pick through. Even so, what little broth I was able to scoop with my spoon was a little too salty to enjoy as is. Under the mound of shells was a garden of stewed vegetables: Brussel sprouts, carrot, onion, leek, green onion, and tofu. Overall it was good, but really not what I expected for $17.

Similarly, what my guests both ordered was good, but it didn’t feel like it measured up to the $17 price tag. This was the “staff meal”, like the dumplings, a daily special that rotates from day to day. This is actually what the staff working enjoy for their meal break, prepared in bulk, with enough servings for customers to have a taste. In actuality, this was the only full entree sized serving, with everything else, a snack sized side to be shared.

“Chicken rice with coconut milk, cabbage, roast chicken, and cilantro”. Made homestyle and comforting. The coconut milk rice really sets it apart with its creamy sweetness, highlighting the savoury and salty, tender chicken you enjoyed in conjunction. The buttery lettuce rounded out the dish with some freshness, giving bites a nice crisp to end on.


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.
Sadly, I was disappointed by this first impression. There wasn’t much to choose from off their regular menu, and the daily specials gave you very little variety as well. Ironically, I coloured more dumplings than I ate, and enjoyed the activity of it a lot more. The portions were small for the price, whereas I just was expecting more given the buzz, having been covered in so many popular online publications. But seeing as the restaurant is still fairly new, I would like to see how they grow and evolve themselves before making any big declarations. Don’t deny your cravings.


1590 Commercial Drive, Vancouver BC, V5L 3Y2

The Rise, revisit

My original visit to “The Rise” wasn’t very favourable. (I will include the link at the bottom, for those curious and wanting to compare.) Luckily I didn’t let a quick open and a first assessment steer me clear of this modern asian fusion restaurant. Out of convenience I have found myself at their threshold for a handful of meal. I work in the area and find lunch with them is quick and tasty. They have taken feedback, grown, and improved since their grand opening introduction and I can finally say that it is time I do a revisit post, and paint a more accurate picture of what it’s like to dine with them, almost a year later.

In truth, my visit today was in a different capacity. Today I was here as a judge, one of three, ranking this year’s Vancouver Foodster’s Sangria challengers. But I won’t be covering my thoughts of their drink here, instead I invite you to try them all for yourself and help judge in the people’s choice category. And be sure to check back here to read my full recap of the challenge, including my thoughts on each and how I voted.

Whenever I visit “The Rise”, should the weather permit, I like to dine on their patio out back. There really isn’t much of a view, as their wood barricade with artificial greens mask the scene of the alley below. But this cloistered off deck gives you an oasis in the city. A quiet spice to linger at, with heat lamps and warm blankets should the temperature turn.

The following is what I had on this day, plus a recap of a handful of meals I have had over the summer season.

I have been meaning to try their “Wheel of nosh”, for a while now. This was a creative way to serve a sampling of either appetizers and/or desserts. And today I not only would get to try one, but both their savoury and sweet sets. When the name says “wheel”, it literally means wheel as these small bites are served in little glass bowl sitting in a wire rounded Ferris wheel in either rose gold or silver. Each wheel has 8 bites, a set of four for two people. So best to share this one with a friend. There are no changes to this one, they don’t offer the wheel for one with 4 savoury bites and 4 sweet. I asked. The collect varies from day to day, each, a selection of Chef Dan’s d’oeuvres.

Today I lucked out as I was able to try and fall for these savoury macarons. I have never heard of, or would think to do savoury macarons in cumin and carrot or tomato and basil. Both had the perfect crisp bite meets luscious cream centre that is a tell-a-tale mark of a great macaron. Your eyes can’t believe what you are tasting: you get the quality of a fine macaron with the flavours of a fresh salad and/or seasoned pasta.

The carrot and cumin tasted like soup seasoned in Indian spices. I would have liked this served warm to mimic that hot soup feel, it would have also added another layer to the dish; and/or change the texture and/or experience of it. The tomato and basil ate like a salad with dressing or red sauce pasta. I would have liked a garlic bread macaron to go with it.

I really liked the “Truffle honey chicken drumlets”, this one taste would have me going back to order a plate full of these crunchy bar snacks. Often I am complaining that I don’t get truffle when it’s mentioned in the name of a dish, but here there was no missing it. It was fragrant, but also well balanced by the sweetness of the honey.

The “Shrimp with house made XO sauce” was nice. Large and juicy shrimps seasoned for a tangy meets garlicky flavour.

This was a clever way of presented a spicy tuna tartar with guacamole and freeze dried corn kernels. The waffle cone was sweet, it mimicked the sweetness of the corn. Although I wanted more of a vinegar and cream flavour from my tuna tartar, almost like a poke with a rice cup. The aforementioned cream would have also given the bite some moisture.

As a new seasonal main, my guest was very excited to see “Beer belly”. She does not eat pork, so knows not the love between a foodie and her pork belly. So to be able to try a close proximity of that sensation was something that she relished this night. House smoked sterling beef belly, braised cabbage purée, crispy coleslaw, pickled cucumbers, and house ipa mustard. This was a vey well balanced dish. Despite all the fattiness of the cut, the neighbouring veg and mix of textures helped to break the fat and grease down for a less overwhelming bite. Fresh leafy greens, tangy pickled cucumbers, and the clever idea of deep frying shredded coleslaw and using it for some crunch. All framed by the fragrant mustard that made for the perfect binder, bringing it all together.

Given the heaviness of our first course, we decided to take it lighter with the seafood in the “Gone fishing”. Grilled scallops and tiger prawns over a zucchini and carrot rice pasta, dressed in yuzukosho cream. The cream was made from fermented yuzu, giving it a more full bodied flavour and a new experience for me. The prawns and scallops were cooked perfect, the latter easily melted against the pressure of your teeth. And the noodle and vegetable mix made the ideal base. It gave the dish some heartiness, while still keeping things light, allowing the fresh seafood to shine.

As mentioned earlier, for dessert we had a sampling served on another Ferris wheel. If you had to choose between the two “Wheel of nosh” versions, I recommend the savoury appetizer one. By comparison dessert wasn’t as creative. Good, but not anything you couldn’t get from else where. Where was the whimsy that we got from all the other dishes?

The warm green tea cheese with tart freeze dried raspberries was the best out of the four different desserts on the wheel. It was tasty with a nice crunch, a flaky buttery crust, and creamy centre. This two biter was enough that I would consider getting the full sized version of this dessert in the future.

The raspberry macaron was very standard, it was at least very fresh and I could tell the raspberry flavour was coming from the pureeing of the actual fruit. Here I would have liked this to be made into a raspberry pie macaron, or have a scoop of ice cream dolloped on top; something to elevate your normal macaron.

Similar was the marble mini cheesecakes. It was good, there was enough crust to enjoy the cream with, but how were they making this their own?

I liked the vanilla and blackcurrant cream puff. At least the addition of black beret made this the restaurant’s own. It was served chilled, whereas I would have liked to have the puff dough warmed, thus making the vanilla cream a little more runny, like a “lava” puff. The addition of the chocolate at bottom gave the overall bite a nice flavour and crisp.

Overall, these wheels were a nice way to present share platters and small bites. However after the novelty of trying it once, you need not revisit it for whimsy, but instead as a full sized dish, if the taste won you over. Given its purpose, I wanted more variety in the sampling, instead of two of each, give me 8 different bites, although it is economically harder to do so.

Now, here are some of the dishes I have had a few months back.

The “schmaltz stir-fried rice pilaf” with chicken confit, sous vide free run egg,
chicken crackling, and the salad du jour.

“Shroom 2.0”, a vegan full and gluten free side, that was filling enough to eat as a meal. A gluten-free spaghetti served with a mushroom medley, smoked tofu, silken tofu cream, and cashew parmesan.




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 got my wish, through their ever evolving menu, they have reinvented their dishes and have come into their own. They are the most/only unique offering in the neighbourhood, and shine because of it. You will continue to see me frequenting the space: enjoying the puns in their names and the novelty of their interactive cocktails, and for their delicious ramen renditions. Don’t deny your cravings.


3135 Granville Street, Vancouver BC, V6H 3K1

For the original visit and review, click the link below.

The Rise Eatry

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