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Category: North Burnaby Page 1 of 4

#Mijune x Chez Christophe Collaboration 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hakkaku Ramen, revisit

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Not my first choice for ramen, but not one I would shy away from either. Made wholesome and served by what looked like 3 generations of women. Simple delight and much charm from this local eatery. Don’t deny your cravings.

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

Green & Oak Malaysian Restaurant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Once again, the food was good enough, but it just didn’t satisfy because of the expectation I had going in. Not traditional Malaysian fare, but a unique interpretation when in Burnaby, to discover. Don’t deny your cravings.

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

Ramen Gaoh

Whenever I travel I always come back to Vancouver craving Asian food, and lucky for me I have acclimated my partner into enjoying ramen; meaning we got to get a bowl of the good stuff our first meal back.

New to our neighbourhood is “Ramen Gaoh”, brought to you by the same folks running the well celebrated “Ramen Butcher”. In fact one of the servers working today was sporting their branded hoodie with its large pig face logo on the back.

With Japanese bamboo growing up front and a large glowing lantern marking the way, the restaurant stands out with its painted black exterior. To enter, you shimmy past a narrow passage, past the black wooden bars, and the covered patio. I considered a seat on the latter as I liked how cozy it looked, but it is still a little too cold to be dining outdoors, so we wafted in side instead.

The staff greet you in unison as you past the threshold. We were directed to one of the two top tables that ran parallel with the bar. With the high counter top and the stacks of bowls atop it, you can’t make out much of what is happening in the open kitchen.

Their dual sided, laminated menu features ramen prepared with miso blends from across Japan. Shiro miso from Nagano, and Aka miso from Aichi and Miyagi.

My partner got the “Shiro miso” ramen made with white soybean paste. It was described as being more mellow and sweet, for a lighter miso flavour. And compared to my bowl below, it was. It was okay, a flavour of ramen I had never had before. Different, but not my favourite to date. My partner finished his portion, but declared that this salty broth wasn’t to his liking either.

I did prefer the more flavourful “Aka miso” ramen made with red soy bean paste. As promised by the menu, it had a deeper umami flavour, with a richer and saltier miso broth. This was also a meatier broth that paired well with the thick and chewy noodles used. Interesting, but not a flavour profile I could see myself craving for any time soon.

Like all their bowls, this too doesn’t come with an egg, so I ordered one at an additional $1.50. A medium boiled and marinated egg. I just wish such places cut their eggs in half, no one bites into a whole egg like this. Inside was a very runny yolk that pooled out. It had a great creamy texture, but was cooled to a chill at the centre.

You can make your ramen a combo by adding gyozas as a side, but unfortunately only the original pork version, made in house, using their “secret recipe” is available as an add on for $3.

So I passed and paid full price for one of their topped gyozas, choosing the most unique of the four options. This is the “Truffle aioli with Parmesan paste”. Tender and meaty bundles topped generously and made salty. There was no hiding the flavour of truffle. Overall, an interesting twist, but a little too much and too rich as a side to my ramen. The toppings felt unnecessary and I found it overwhelming.

As a precaution, my partner ordered a side of their “Teriyaki spicy crispy deep fried chicken”, in case he didn’t like the ramen. The meat used was fatty and dark, each nugget coated heavily in crunchy fried breading. The teriyaki sauce was the highlight of this dish with its fishy undertone, it paired well with the spicy sauce that was not too spicy.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Not my first choice for ramen in the area. Nothing was what I expected, it didn’t taste bad, it just wasn’t a taste that I recognized or look to when craving ramen. This was a good reminder that there are so many different styles of ramen out there; all worth trying. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

RAMEN GOAH
4518 E Hastings Street, Burnaby BC, V5C 2K4
604-299-5407
ramengaoh.com

The Viet Noodle Guy

I drive past this restaurant several times a week. It is new to my neighbourhood, which I don’t often dine out within. However, tonight with the pouring rain and my desire to not cook, I thought I would stop by for a quick meal; where ironically, I didn’t have any of their noodles.

The name set you up for an easy going meal, an easy place for quick Vietnamese food. Simple like its modern decor with exposed ceilings, wax laminate, concrete pillars, and their logo printed on their door mat and again painted on their wall.

Aside from missing me when I sat down, the staff were very attentive. I caught eyes with the guy behind the counter, he acknowledged me and directed me to the bar by the window for solo diners. However, I must have slipped his mind as others who sat down after me were greeted with tea and a menu. I had to approach the bar that centred the restaurant for mine. Although after I sat and placed my order, I encountered four other faces as they all approached me and offered to any requests I had. Though in their defence, I had my menu open in front of me, taking notes for this post.

I ordered a few dishes, half to have here and the rest to be able to box up for breakfast and lunch tomorrow.

Out of the 7 Vietnamese subs that they offer on menu, they only had one option available one hour to close. And sadly it was one of my last choices. I would be missing out on their special sub with everything, their chicken sub, a lemon grass chicken sub, one with Vietnamese bacon, another with meat ball, and one vegetarian version with tofu.

I did end up going for the “Grilled pork sub” because there was pate included, and that is my favourite part of banh mi. Grilled pork, pate, mayo, cucumber, pickled veggies, cilantro, and jalapeños. It came to me luke warm. The bread crusty, the vegetable hard and cold. I liked the flavour of it, but not all the sauce that coated the meat and pooled under the bun, which it soaked up like a sponge. As for the flavour the pork was peppery and fully seasoned, the pate a ta grainy. Good, but I will have to come back to try my cold cut staple for a better gauge.

You don’t often come to Vietnamese restaurants thinking rice, but I had a craving and got this one to be able to try a few variation of how they prepare their meats. Special rice “com sac biet” with lemongrass chicken, pork chops, fried egg, egg patty and shredded pork. And all the rice dishes also come with tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, pickled veggies and green onion. All the sides and the raw vegetables help to change the taste and inject a crispiness in to your bites. The salad was drizzled in a tangy citrus flavour and added freshness. And the egg some creaminess to the rice. As for the main, the pork chop was as tender as the chicken it was beside, and with a similar grill. Although it had more of a lemon grass flavour than the chicken with a sweet and salty teriyaki feel. And beware the bone, it is one third of piece. The egg patty was interesting. It was like meat loaf with pork, wood ear fungus, vermicelli and egg as the binder.

I love Vietnamese spring rolls. They are crispier than the regular ones with just a folded wonton wrapper. It is all in their jagged shell that gives it additional texture, a nice scrape against the roof of your mouth. Their “Jumbo spring roll” is filled with shrimp, pork, shredded carrots, egg, and taro. You can order them one at a time or two together with a savings of 50 cents when you do. Sadly, although I gave so much focus to the shell, there was too much breading for my tastes, especially at the ends. I just wanted a better ratio between it and the filling. Though at the end of the day, a generous dip into fish sauce is all it needed.

 

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 quick and easy Vietnamese restaurant in a pitch. Clean setting, casual vibe, and fast food. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

VIET NOODLE GUY
1902 Rosser Avenue, Burnaby BC, V5C 3Z2
604-336-4888
thevietnoodleguy.ca

Sasaya Restaurant

We came here on a whim, looking at our original destination and turning back around, we ended walking across the way to “Sasaya”. Based on its awning and the photos of their dishes plastered on the window, I deemed it the best option in the neighbourhood.

Inside the restaurant was painted in a rose pink with an apple red detailing. Despite its colouring the whole set up felt like a cafeteria with linear tables set in rows. Stale grey rectangular tables surround by black office chairs. We grabbed a seat in the upper corner and watched the restaurant slowly fill; admiring the one lone server working the floor trying to service them all. She literally ran from table to table either delivering dishes, busing plates, or offering refills of water in to your cup.

The restaurant boasted Korean cuisine on the awning but based on the menu, signs in the dining area, and the staff greeting customers in Mandarin; this was more like a Chinese-style Korean restaurant with options like bubble tea, stewed appetizers, and other popular Taiwanese’s snacks. This had me curious over their homemade kimchi and what a pairing of mayonnaise and bamboo shoot would taste like. They were basically a bubble tea cafe hiding within this Korean restaurant front.

I ended up ordering Japanese style udon despite the Korean name and the Chinese influences. It was noodles and vegetable in a chicken broth base: cabbage, carrot, corn, shrimp, mussels, squid, tofu, sliced pork, egg, and udon. My guest likened it to an “Asian minestrone with tofu”, and now I can’t think of a better way to explain it. It was warming and comforting, with that home cooked feel, just as all the dishes to come were.

I ordered the “Deep fried black rice cake”’out of curiosity. It had a firm texture, what I imagine biting into freshly poured asphalt would be like. It was interesting enough to want to go back for a second, third, and fourth bite to try figure out what it is you were tasting. You ate it for its chewiness and enjoyed it for its instant-noodle-package-seasoning flavour.

The “Bibimbap” was very much so Korean with bbq pork, kimchi, beansprouts, mushrooms, egg, and rice. It came with the cast iron still sizzling. You stirred it all up and then added a kick with a healthy squeeze from the bottle of hot sauce that came with the set. It was exactly as we expected and just as satisfying.

I never miss ordering Korean rice cakes for their texture. This spicy one was plenty tasty, with the vegetables and meat offering contrast and some heartiness to the serving. Although, I would have been just as happy with the sauced up tubes as they were.

 

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.
Maybe I came in with very low expectations, but I found everything tasty and the meal very fairly price. I was especially impressed by our earnest server, so much so that I made sure to recognize her for your hard work and level head. Once again she was tasked with serving the entire dining room, and she did so with speed and efficiency. All whilst saying pleases and thank you’s. She even ran around with two pitchers in her hand to be ready to offer either hot or cold water. You don’t see that level of service for many off the grid shoppes like this, Don’t deny your cravings.

 

SASAYA
7538 Royal Oak Avenue, Burnaby BC, V5J 4K1
604-433-3652
Sasaya Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kamamarui Ramen & Don

I have finally gotten my partner into ramen. So when we spotted what we thought was a new ramen shop by where we live (the Burnaby Heights area), we immediately made plans to go. Although, it turns out that this has been a long standing location, with two years and a strong following.

The little shop is marked with bamboo curtains over the window and a single red glowing lantern. We came in at 5pm on a Sunday night and were the first ones in. We were quickly seated only to have the tables around us fill up right after with lone diners and four person families.

Inside, the dimly lit restaurant is narrow, so they cleverly utilize their space saving tables with matching stools that easily tuck underneath. Along the grey stucco walls are red and black hooks that look like the behind of dogs. You hang your coat and bags on their tails in order to create more space in between seats, with the ability to fit more patrons, more comfortably.

My only critique is with the mellow folk music they play overhead. It created a somber tone for the restaurant’s guests, an environment where you either ate in silence or spoke in whispers. Where the food and it’s flavours are more fun and you want to more jovial when embracing it.

Not only do they offer ramen, but their menu gives you a variety of Japanese comfort foods. Udon, rice bowls, agedashi tofu, gyoza, kimchi; and the possibility to have them as a combo with your ramen.

My partner had their “Tonkotsu ramen” with a regular pork based broth. It came with two slices of chashu, half a soft boiled egg, and as much bean sprouts as there were chewy yellow noodles. Lucky for me, he doesn’t actually like most of the toppings so my serving gets double of everything.

He made this meal a combo my adding a “mini chicken flame” rice bowl to it. Our food came out relatively quick, but that maybe because of the microwave that I heard. I suspect it was used to heat up this chicken dish as the meat was fairly tough and dry. The microwave opened and I heard the clanging of a dish against the spinning glass plate. And as soon as the ding of the bell went off, our food came out. The rice bowl was ok, it had a dull spice to match its flat, salty flavour; whereas I would have liked a bit more sweetness in the sticky sauce used.

For myself, I took our server’s recommend of their “Black ramen”. She declared it their most popular dish, the one that customers continue to come back for and say that they like. It too had a pork soup base, but to it they added roasting black garlic oil for extra flavour. And then I got it even more decadent with their rich broth option, instead of just regular, like above. In my bowl there were plenty of the following, but not enough noodle to pair with it all. Green onions, bean sprouts, tree ear mushrooms, half an egg, seaweed, and two slices of chashu pork. The serving was rich as promised, but not overwhelmingly so. You could still use the table side sauces to add heat or change the flavour mid way through.

I too made mine a combo my adding on their “bombs”. They are two round rice balls speckled with grilled seaweed and sesame seeds. I really liked their chewy texture and fragrant flavour. They were the perfect change of taste in between rich ramen bites. It the end I found this the most memorable dish of the meal and the one I would come back for.

 

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.
A great option for great ramen in Burnaby. I will be back to try their other flavours and maybe more of their combos. Just be warned they are a debit and cash only establishment. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

KAMAMARUI
4219 Hastings Street, Burnaby BC
778-379-8077
Kamamarui Ramen & Don Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Gray Olive Cafeteria

After visiting “The Gray Olive” for the first time during a “Vancouver Foodster Tasting Plates” tour in the Burnaby Heights area, I knew to come back when my partner wanted some all day breakfast near our home. We wondered in at 2:30pm, and being the only ones to dine in at the time, had the pick of the place.

You order at the counter, after deciding what it is that you want, from the menu that covers the wall to your left. Weekday breakfast and lunch options are available all day, with some specific brunch specials only available on weekends and during holidays. We came in wanting breakfast, but ended up ordering sandwiches off their weekday lunch menu instead.

Their burgers and sandwiches don’t come with sides so my partner got their “G.O.” potatoes in a smaller serving, to accompany his “chicken bacon club”. This was a traditional club made with quality ingredients. Tender white meat chicken breast, thick cuts of bacon with a crispy caramelized coating, crisp lettuce, and a juicy tomato slice. But in place of a classic mayonnaise spread, they had a roasted garlic aioli. I didn’t really notice it, and found myself missing the tang mayo would have brought to the brioche bun instead. Overall, it was deliciously light with all its freshness. Good, but the breakfast potatoes out shone the sandwich given how good they were and how much more flavour they had in each cube. Each had the perfect crispy texture to them, a thick battered shell hiding a nice soften centre.

I went for their “roast chicken” sandwich, pairing it with a cup size of their “tomato bisque” soup. The soup was one of two soup specials for the day, I made it my side at an additional cost. Pulled chicken, pea shoots, pickled red onion, harvarti cheese, black pepper aioli, crackling, and gravy. It was like a chicken dinner between a toasted baguette, with some of the best tasting chicken I have ever had (and here I thought the sandwich above was impressive). You could taste the quality in everything from the first bite. The toppings added texture with the crunchy crackling and freshness with the green shoots. The red onions offered some tang, but I wanted more for my appetite. Maybe some sweet pickles on the side or a sharp mustard for contrast. I liked the idea of the gravy as a dip, but it only made an already rich sandwich denser. Instead we used it as a dip for the potatoes above, replacing the typical ketchup pairing. It was a light gravy, thick and slightly peppery. It did not mask or overwhelm anything it coated.

As for the soup, it made a great warming start. It had a nice and thick, only slightly lumpy consistency to it. Although I wished it more creamy, where the first sip reminded us of pasta sauce given the spices used.

The restaurant well reflected the food. It’s decor matched in how it was modern and trendy. Light Hearted and simple, you had everything you need and no extra flash. The space was brightly lit, with bleached wood and white furniture, it almost felt like a warm spring day within. Warmth from easy listening music and the that sprouted by the door and above the counter.

My only critique would be how they call themselves a cafeteria, but their food quality and prices are far from a mass assembly of food left to keep warm under a heat lamp. Given that we paid for it, the leisurely meal we enjoyed above, would be nicer as part of a full sit down service. To not order and have to pay before you eat, but to have your order taken at your table. Although they do deliver your meal to you on a metal tray, and bus it all away after; and you also get check-ins as your meal progressed.

 

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, hands down was one of the most freshest meals I have ever had, and one of the healthiest servings I have ever enjoyed. When it all came the portions looked small, but reality was, this was a lot of food and we couldn’t finish it all. My partner got full fast and was sad because it tasted so good and he couldn’t finish it all. And unfortunately none of it would travel all that well as leftovers packed up to go. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

GRAY OLIVE
4190 Hastings Street, Burnaby BC, V5C 2J4
604-566-9664
thegrayolive.com
The Gray Olive Cafeteria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

L’ Artista Italian Restaurant

My partner and I were looking for a quick dinner in our neighbourhood, he was craving Italian so we stopped at one of the many options in Burnaby Heights. I wasn’t expecting much given their limited social media presence and their 3.7 rating (when we researched ahead). But walking in at 6pm and seeing the older demographic, I could see that I would be the only one to take photos of my meal tonight, and that they probably got their following from word of mouth. We called ahead to check on the availability of a table, and were highly encouraged to make a reservation even though we were 10 minutes away. It turns out that majority of the restaurant’s tables were to be filled with their regular weekend crowd, claiming their favourite tables between 6:30-7pm. We wanted one by the window, but were told they were all reserved, despite us sitting and finishing our meal, and seeing no one claim the coveted seats during that time.

The entry way of the restaurant is a narrow corridor walk between the bar and the kitchen behind it, and an arch-ed wall. The wall corrals the dining area behind red brick and yellow stucco arches. It was an aged establishment decorated with Italian style art and artifacts. Oil paintings of buildings amongst waterways, held delicately in gilded gold frames; porcelain plates with photos of landmarks at its centre, and a collection of vases and jugs sitting ornamental on a ledge. It had a quaint feel further by the community appeal and friendly staff.

The menu was a laminated gathering of dishes categorized under appetizers, pastas, and various proteins. Having never been here before we both played it safe with pasta dishes. But our meal began with an oven warmed bun each and some whipped creamy butter to spread over it.

My partner had their “Fettuccine alla Federico”. A generous helping of pasta with pieces of chicken and mushrooms in the chef’s own sauce. The Alfredo was slightly orange due to a little tomato in it. The tomato offered the serving more depth and the addition of tang and spice. The mushroom offered the plate some heartiness, but I found them out of place. I much more preferred the classic lasagna below.

I took them up on their beef lasagna special of the day. The casserole dish came to the table bubbling, with a warning from the server who delivered it. Another server followed shortly after, offering both of us Parmesan by the spoonful and grated pepper to finish off the dish. This was a solid lasagne, homestyle with a thick sauce and plenty of toasted cheese. It was exactly as expected, great from first bite to the leftovers I enjoyed the day after.

 

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 nice option for some hearty Italian in Burnaby. A quick and easy meal between $17.95-18.95. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

L’ ARTISTA
3891 Hastings Street, Burnaby BC, V5C 2H7
604-298-8110
lartistarestaurant.com
L'artista Italian Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bubble Waffle Cafe, Brentwood Mall

I have been meaning to check out this latest edition to Brentwood Mall. Many were excited when they moved in to the old home of “mmm…muffins” within the mall’s food court. (Although I am not familiar with their chain and brand) Brentwood was never really busy to begin with, but it has been seeing a steady decline in businesses and clientele due to the construction that currently surrounds it. The unearthing of ground to build several apartment high rises in the expanding area. Therefore “Bubble Waffle” is a nice edition, and something different to bring customers in, especially as there isn’t anything already like it in the area. And an easy way for those unfamiliar with such Hong Kong style cuisine to give it a try.

They were busy on a Thursday afternoon. Although no one stood in line, there was a wait to fulfill orders from their stand. The rows of empty trays pre-set with a single napkin, straw, chopsticks, and Chinese style soup spoon spoke to this. Therefore their roster of employees behind the counter made sense. Although they mostly looked like family members in how casual they dressed and communicated with one other, and even how they invited more individuals behind the counter to join them in conversation. They spoke Mandarin to one another, and all those that came up to them fitting the part. It had me feeling like I was in a Richmond food court. Naturally their clientele was mostly Chinese, many being drawn to the familiar cuisine and logo.

Their menu is easy to read, each available item made into a combo and depicted in colourful photo. Poster quality images covering every available surface.

Given my familiarity with the cuisine, I gravitated towards the “Hainanese chicken with rice combo for $9.50”, although their “Signature boneless salt baked chicken rice” was a close second. The combo includes your choice of Hong Kong style drink. I went for the coffee and milk tea over flavoured lemon water/tea and Ribena (a black currant syrup flavoured beverage.) The coffee-tea combo drink is great for those who like the flavour of coffee, but not the bitterness of actual coffee.

The food comes to the counter fairly quick. Pre-made chicken with spices on the side, and a chilled drink. It was the made to order waffle that had bodies lingering in wait. Having it “for here” still has your serving being presented in a take out plastic container, the lid covering to keep things warm. Although all of it was served lukewarm, ready for eating, but you it would be best with a longer spin in the microwave.

I expected my serving of chicken over rice to look like, if not close to, what was presented in its menu photo, so was naturally disappointed when the chicken came stacked as rough bits torn from the bird. Not only did the chicken look unappealing, but there was barely enough of it for the serving of rice and excessive scoop of ginger paste to accompany. Although the latter was necessary if you wanted flavour in your food. Underneath it all were two slices of cucumber. I wished that they were pickled, and cut into smaller chunks. They offered the dish its refreshing quality and more of it would have helped. There was also plenty of soy sauce pooled at the bottom, this would have been better in a dish to pour and season as needed, as to not over salt the rice. As for the chicken, I have had my fair share of Hainanese style chicken and sadly this is my least favourite interpretation. It wasn’t bad for regular chicken, just not good enough to considered “Hainanese”. Even with the dryness of the meat itself aside.

I also opted in for their special add on that gives you a bag of bubble waffle for only $1 more. Given their name and claim to fame, this seemed like a good bet. “Bubble waffles” are made with a sweet batter pressed and flipped in a unique cast iron waffle press. The “bubble” comes from its aesthetics and the fact that each round is hollow. They have several flavours that you can choose from, but you can only get the original at the special price. They won’t even let you pay more for the option to customize, it was a hard no when I asked. Shame as the chocolate, green tea, cheesecake, sesame, and Oreo flavours sounded a lot more interesting and exclusive to them, then “original”. I would have gotten the green tea for colour.

I suggest claiming your bubble waffle after your meal, as it makes a great dessert or something to take to-go. This way you enjoy it fresh and soft. By the time I got a hold of my bag (which I asked for with my meal, so that I can take the group photo above), it was cold and each ball snapped off sharply. Although I liked the harder edges around the “bubbles” for their crunch. As a whole, this surprisingly held up when cooled down with its great flavour. Although allowing it to sit in the brown paper bag, had you realizing how greasy of a treat this was.

 

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.
This isn’t a bad food court solution. I feel the other chicken dishes would be similar to what I had above, but would be curious as to how their noodle dishes translated in this fast food setting. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BUBBLE WAFFLE CAFE
Brentwood Mall, 4567 Lougheed Highway, Suite 744K, Burnaby BC
778-379-7345
Bubble Waffles Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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