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Category: North Burnaby Page 2 of 4

Fatburger, North Burnaby

My partner is a frequenter of the burger chain, especially as they now have their: smaller size big taste options that range between $9.99-$10.99 for a whole meal. It comes with a smaller burger and less fries for less. Where as a regular burger is $9.99 and to make it a combo with drink and fries you are looking at $4.99 more.

Each location is a little different. The one in Burnaby, by our place included breakfast until 4pm, a specialty touch screen soda machine, and small television screens at the counter facing the window. We you eventually sit and wait for our meal at the latter.

Like any fast food joint you line up at the single till and order from their pictorial menu hanging above. They offered various poutine, wings, and salads along with their burgers. But considering “burger” was in their name, you’d figure that’s what you ought to get. This was my first time visiting any location, and having one of these burgers. And given the praise others have given it, I went in optimistic; yet still cautious in ordering the more regular bacon cheddar burger. The menu doesn’t actually list what goes into it, and you can only guess so much by the pictures. Like how the “California” came with guacamole due to the green mushy layer in its photo, or the ultimate BBQ burger came with onion rings that were shown as thick crispy breading. Luckily the clerks know to warn you of all the toppings and condiments in each and confirm it is what you indeed want. After all one of their advertised promises is that they make you “a burger you can’t refuse”. Along with them being “big, juicy, tasty. (Now that is a fat burger)”.

You pay at the counter and are given a table number with the warning that “patience. (Is needed as) Perfection takes time”. There is a necessary wait as everything is prepared to order and made fresh in their fry kitchen, made visible right behind the check out counter. And apparently what comes out is good enough to come back for as they have a stamp card for frequent diners. After your purchase 7 full size burgers you get any meal up to $7.99 for free

We spent this elongated wait time battling with the less than optimal soda machine. It was a struggle to select what you wanted from its touch screen, without spraining a thumb. You find yourselves poking is several times, increasing the line during a rush. We eventually gave up and my partner went for cherry Fanta when he wanted fruit punch. And I had lemonade when I wanted peach ice tea from it.

When our burgers came, my partner’s Cajun chicken that he ordered was not seasoned in the orange hue it should have been. When I brought it up to the clerk attention that our order was wrong, she denied responsibility. I reminded her of our exchange how both he and I asked for the Cajun burger. My partner ordered for himself, but after realizing the clerk had trouble understanding him due to his accent, I reiterated “Cajun” a couple of more times to be sure. The clerk’s excuse was that she listed chicken when she ran through the burger toppings and we didn’t say anything when she did (whereas if she meant Cajun, she would have said, “Cajun Chicken”). In my mind, why would I split hairs when she mentioned chicken? It was a chicken burger after all? So after the back and forth and my unwillingness to take no for an answer she accepted the basket with the burger and fries back. I sat down only to question what is it they would do to rectify the situation and would it just be her suggestion of sprinkling Cajun spices over the chicken fillet and adding yellow cheese?

So I headed back and on my second trip up, I dipped behind the counter and was able to address, who I assume was the manager as she spoke with knowledge and a better understanding of customer service. She explained how the burger is made and what she would be doing to salvage it. I told her that I would let my partner try it and if it didn’t measure up I would be back. He comes often and this is his regular order, so he has an expectation in mind and expects it to match all the other Cajun chicken burgers he has had with them in the past. When he finally took a bite, it obviously wasn’t as expected. But he isn’t the type to make a fuss, so kept it. I took a bite and not knowing what to expect found it either bland or overwhelming with spice, due to the uneven peppering of the Cajun spices. But at this point my partner was too hungry and didn’t want to have wait another 10 minutes for them to actually make us a burger that we “couldn’t refuse”.

The kitchen (manager) later sent a server to come check in on us and how the burger was. When asked, my partner was honest, it isn’t what a Cajun burger should taste like, but he was unwilling to wait. She took the feedback away and later came back with a voucher for a free burger to make up for the disappointment and the experience, I assume. This was a good way to salvage the interaction.

As for my bacon cheddar burger, for what it was it was good. The patty was a touch on the dry side but the healthy mix of ketchup, mustard, and relish over top, it was easily masked. The candied bacon was the highlight with its thicker strips. And fries were also really nice and crisp too, but this is no wonder considering they also make their fries fresh too order with their burgers.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I am not upset about their being a mistake made and them not wanting to waste food by trying to “fix” the burger above. What I am upset about was the clerk arguing with me on what I said and asserting that this was what I wanted. Especially as I had to repeat “Cajun” a few times, and if she didn’t understand it is up to her to clarify, not for me to accept what she understood to be true. I know it may seem like a small thing, but when you choose to dine out, it is not only for the food, but you also take into consideration the atmosphere and the experience. And given the hype of this better burger chain and as it was my first time here, I unfortunately didn’t get that right away. Although I will not be writing them off for this fact, but instead because I have tried similar burgers, set at similar prices, also catering to that market of a step up from the burger of fast food chains; this just doesn’t measure up to my favourites in the category. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

FATBURGER
4461 Lougheed Highway, Burnaby BC, V5C 3Z2
604-568-5179
fatburgercanada.com
Fatburger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sushi Giwa

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After working our way through a chocolate filled fest we were hankering for something more solid, something more healthier, and our stomachs brought us to sushi.

This location was chosen as it was near the home of one of my companions, and she vouched for it being a stand up place. Yet was honest enough to say that it wasn’t the best, but a “solid B” instead. Her gauge is based on how good a sushi restaurant’s real crab is, and here it was some of the better. And she should know, given that she is gluten intolerant, and the need for her to find substitutions in all she eats, is key in her meals. Apparently imitation crab contains gluten. So for her to say that they were good, there was no need for me to believe otherwise.

By all accounts the restaurant was the standard Japanese restaurant with traditional and fusion favourites. The dining room was divided into two by a wall and an artificial cherry blossom tree. Its white flowers crept overall all its far reaching branches, creating a romantic canopy to dine adjacent to. It’s just a shame that the booth seats we hunkered down on, came with large rips and were temporarily fixed by electric tape. It took away from the otherwise romantic-attempt at ambience.

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When it came time to order, they had a big bounded menu to sift through. However it is the laminated and coloured insert that we stuck to. It was just easier to order from with limited choices and a photo for each option. On it was their speciality rolls topped and sauced to an excess.

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One guest got their spicy tuna and yam tempera roll combo, which she claims this restaurant is the only one to offer together. The former was a regular salmon roll, pretty standard, like the fresh cucumber and mushy yam roll.

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The rest of our rolls each started off as a California roll with imitation crab meat, mayo, and avocado. And where it differed from one to the next was what was laid over each. This version of a California roll was the “Awesome roll”, made using real crab meat for $3 more. It is wrapped with seared salmon and tuna.

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The “Giwa house roll” was an assembly of prawn, crab meat, avocado, and cucumber; topped with cooked assorted seafood, vegetables, and even mozzarella cheese. An interactive plate that you explored by digging through the mound. It looked and tasted like a teriyaki stir fry with the sweeter sauce. Definitely a unique interpretation of sushi, very specific to this restaurant.

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The “Kochuran roll” is a deep fried California roll wrapped in avocado and salmon. It is served warm and still crispy. And not surprisingly all the meat was cooked within it, but sadly this included the salmon. It was a hearty roll that ate like a full meal. All our rolls did, however they had so much going on that you needed to cleanse your palette in between bites. But more often then not, your cup of tea was left empty, and the needed to track down one of the two servers to have it filled.

 

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.
This isn’t the type of sushi restaurant that you would go out of your way to visit. But it makes a decent neighbourhood option when looking for a meal that is quick and easy. One of those places that you never need a reservation for, and can be sure you will get seated as soon as you walk in, if not seat yourself. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

SUSHI GIWA
5625 Hastings Street, Burnaby BC, V5B 1R4
604-336-5250
sushigiwa.com
Sushi Giwa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chez Christophe Chocolaterie Patisserie

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“Chez Christophe”, a cafe specializing in chocolates and patisserie has moved. They have migrated across the street to claim a larger lot. A fact I would not have known, if it not for the annual Vancouver “#hotchocolatefest”. A celebration of the drink and the creativity of the participating cafes and chocolate shops offering a unique twist on the classic hot beverage. This was our first stop on a 5 destination crawl for hot chocolate.

To watch the video of our entire crawl, click on the link.

Our starting point was marked by red chairs and a red banner, set in front of an all red brick exterior. Rustic, compared to the sterile white of the interior. There is now a longer display counter to fully appreciate all their fresh baked pastries, and even more dedicated space to properly highlight their chocolate arts. And throw in plenty of shelf space to display their seasonal chocolate figurines, and a deep showcase to organize their various chocolate gems in columns.

This increase in square footage also allows for more dine in business, with a few tables inside and many more outside, waiting for a warmer day. And these additional reasons to stay also comes with a washroom.

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It has been previously established during my initial visit, that although I find their wares impressive, I don’t often find myself here due to my lack lustre appreciation for chocolate. I can eat it, but don’t enjoy it as others who get cravings for it do. So it needs to be the right reason that brings me this way, and today I had it by way of the hot chocolate festival. They are serving two different hot chocolates for $6.95 each, both available until February 13th in time with the event.

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The “Tropical storm” is a dark chocolate served with a coconut marshmallow, featuring spiced pineapple gel. It is best when all mixed together and all the flavours are allowed to mingle. You didn’t get much of the pineapple, but plenty of coconut as you pick the annoying shreds out of your teeth.

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The “Breakfast in Burnaby” was the one most of us preferred. It is a French toast inspired white hot chocolate, topped with a maple drizzle, and a pecan crunch. It tasted like French toast with the cinnamon and sugar used and the flavour of the maple at the forefront, it just lacked the eggy taste and chewy texture that comes to mind when you think French toast. It was served with a hard brioche, that was made soft via dips into the foam and cream. I personally would have preferred some food symmetry instead,and liked to have a French toast point served with the hot chocolate it gave inspiration to.

 

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.
One that I would not necessarily come back to, but one I wouldn’t necessarily be scared away from neither. I can see myself returning if offered the right incentive. For example, other limited edition treats that are as good as what we had today. But needless to say, this is definitely one I can recommend with gusto, for those looking for anything beautifully crafted out of chocolate in the Burnaby area. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

CHEZ CHRISTOPHE
4717 Hastings Street, Burnaby BC, V5C 2K8
604-428-4200
christophe-chocolat.com
Chez Christophe Chocolaterie Patisserie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thai Cafe, pad thai eating challenge

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Continuing my tour of all the food challenges in Vancouver, my guest and myself found ourselves at “Thai Cafe” this evening. Here they have the only pad Thai challenge in the city: a heaping 6.5 pound bowl of noodles to finish within 30 minutes. A challenge they were proud to offer, enough to post photographs of past attempts on the exterior window, and they even took our photos (before we dug in) for their Facebook feed.

To skip reading my recap, and instead watch us work our way through the challenge, click the link.

The restaurant isn’t all that decorated. Plenty of seating across dark wood tables arranged in three in isles, and few Thai artifacts gracing the wall. Just as well we would eat in a hurry and leave completely stuffed either way.

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We walked in and were early enough to be the only ones in the restaurant. So we were able to choose our seats. A few tables joined after, with many more option to take their dinner to go. We knew exactly what we wanted so didn’t even bother opening the menu. When we placed our order the sever was a little skeptical of my ability and in my enthusiasm for the challenge. She even attempted to sway me by reassuring me over of the amount of food I was endeavouring on. However, to my larger friend she was only encouraging. She had faith in him all the way until the very end, even to the point that they had prepared for him a winner’s prize. In retrospect rightfully so, I guess.

The challenge comes with rules printed on a piece of paper. It reads that we would have 30 minutes to complete the entirety of the serving of pad Thai. There would be no sharing, but with us each having our own bowl, that would not be a problem. At $30 a bowl you have to finish to win. And if you do, not only is the bowl you just completed free, but you also earn a $30 gift certificate and an invitation to come back to try more of their menu.

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We decided to order some Thai ice teas along with our challenge, to help change the taste and wash things down.

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What came after was an impressive serving of noodles. A heaping mound of full fledge pad Thai. They didn’t cheap out, this came with all the traditional ingredients and even a protein. Rice noodles stir-fried with eggs, chicken, chopped firm tofu, tamarind paste, fish sauce, dried shrimp, garlic, red chili pepper, and palm sugar. Then topped with crushed peanuts and raw bean sprouts, and julienne green onion and carrots. The various textures were helpful in rejuvenating flavours, once things started becoming stale.

To begin with it was a delicious serving of pad Thai, soften noodles with that tell-a-tale tacky texture that I love. It had the perfect tang of tamarind with plenty of refreshing crisp vegetables, and the hearty crunch of peanuts. But the chicken was an ingredient we could have skipped out on it all together. The poultry was over cooked and therefore dry, it was also an extra thing to have to finish.

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But sadly, anything eaten in excess can quickly turn good to gross. This was the case when I was left with 1/5 of my serving staring back at me. From here I couldn’t go any further without the need to gag. The once delicious flavours had now become monotonous, the texture was numb in my mouth. I was done when I felt it coming back up. My guest faired better, but he too found himself beaten, but sadly with only two full bites remaining; and this is only after the use of some chilli sauce.

At the end we had to count this as a loss. Just as well, as we sat to catch our breath, we discussed not wanting to return, or to even look at pad thai or anything similar, anytime soon.

 

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.
In all honesty, if their pad Thai was this good to have us finish this much of it, I could definitely recommend them for some stand up noodles. And for those who can eat, this challenge is a tasty one. As for the rest of the menu or even what else they offer, I will have to return to be able to tell you, but for it and other Thai restaurants, that may be a while. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

THAI CAFE
4160 Hastings Street, Burnaby BC, V5C 2T4
604-299-4525
thaicafe.ca
Thai Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pizza Hut

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When was the last time you ate fast food pizza in the restaurant it was prepared in? I can tell you why that’s the case.

 

We don’t often get snow in Vancouver, and if we do it usually doesn’t sticks, therefore I truly believe that we as a city aren’t equipped for any amount of snow. We are often caught off guard by the slightest frosty downpour, weather that our brethren on the east side of Canada are accustomed to. Roads don’t get salted in preventative action and walkways aren’t shovelled until someone falls. But my partner, hailing from the east, is all too familiar with winter weather and driving in the snow. He snorts at how Vancouverites exaggerate the conditions, calling a couple of inches the “snowpocalypse”. So despite the flurry of white and everyone else’s fear, we ventured out for dinner during the first snow fall of 2016.

The snow was sticking, and without salt on the streets, it was creating chaos for many without winter tires, or the experience to drive on the slippery white stuff. So after taking an hour to drive home on a 10 minute commute (and I know that is good, many had it much worse), both my partner and I were too tired to do much else. So when considering dinner options, we decided on gambling with the wait and calling for delivery. However, our local “Pizza Hut” wasn’t offering that service on the first day of substantial snow in Burnaby. Between the icy roads and families not wanting to brace the out doors, I could see them being bombarded with dinner time orders. This surge of business is probably what forced them to withdraw their delivery option and focus on those willing to take out. Plus I am sure the snow was impeding their rate of effective delivery as well. So if we, like everyone else, wanted pizza we would have to go get it. And that we did.

Walking in to the restaurant, I thought to myself, “When was the last time you ate your pizza in the actual restaurant you ordered it from?” “When was the last time you chose to “dine in” with fast-food pizza?” Given the setting I could see why any meal from here would be preferable in the comfort of your own home.

Any “Pizza Hut” restaurant stands out by sight alone. It’s structure iconic with the unique shape of its roof, living up to the “Hut” in its name. The angle of the rafters and the position of the support beams in relation to the roof, created a unique series of wall features and windows shapes inside. Brick walls betwixt glass panes. And on each wall segment, historical portraits, that spoke to the age of the place. A dark green carpet was laid underfoot, they matched the evergreen cushions on each booth sectional. Despite there only being one other patron dining in, each table was preset with their logo-ed disposable napkins and a knife and fork. A nice courtesy for those who eat their pizza with utensils, or in the case of my partner, requires a knife to spread butter over the crust, like bread.

Overall, like an aged time capsule of restaurant decor, I can see why not many chose to dine in here. Their dining area isn’t well kept, not surprising considering the amount of delivery orders they do in comparison. In fact they didn’t notice when we walked in and even after when we sat down, and got back up to help ourselves to a menu from their front desk. And this is despite making eye contact and flashing the clerk a smile. Although once it registered that we intended to stay, he was polite and pretty timely about taking our order.

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However taking a look at the laminated sheet menu, my partner pulled out his phone to see what sort of deals they had online instead. And here he found a better deal in the “$15 create a meal”. When we inquired about it the clerk mentioned that it was a delivery special, but not being able to order for delivery through their website, he suggested we ordered it for take out instead. He was able to take our request, and we could wait in their seats for it to be done, before we paid and took it to go.

The “$14.99 DINNER BOX ONLINE DEAL” cost us $15.75 total after taxes. It includes a two topping “PANalicious” pizza, regular breadsticks and marinara sauce, and your choice of five boneless bites chicken nuggets or “cinnaparts” for dessert. I am often weary about chicken and pasta from a fast food pizza place, so often stick with its baked goods instead. We opted for the dessert option, but they were kind enough to throw in a couple of wings for free anyways.

Split across two boxes it was easy to pick up our dinner and head home with it. However, we were surprised by how cooled off everything was when we got to eating. This is with us leaving the restaurant right away and rushing home, only a handful of blocks away. I guess those insulated bags that delivery personnel parcel delivery orders in, make a big difference. None-the-less the food was good and as expected.

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The Breadsticks were more like pita bread, baked crispy and cut with jagged edges. There was the ability to add on cheese for a $1. But the dusting of Parmesan and the tangy marinara sauce on the side made things plenty tasty. I love a good bread and dip option, I just wish that the dough was more soft and chewy, rather than crusty and dry.

The “Panormous” pizza isn’t your traditional round, but a deep dish rectangle with plenty of crust around it four edges. With it, it was like having breadsticks built into your pizza, which left us questioning why we needed more breadstick as a the side to this combo. Although the dough of the pizza was fluffier and exactly what I was looking for when compared to above. The marinara sauce over it was a lot more mild, especially in comparison to the cheese and our choice of ham and pineapple as toppings. You can’t beat a pizza warm or cold, and with both temperatures I enjoy it with a healthy coating of ranch dressing.

The wings were surprisingly good. Enough meat over bone, covered heavily in a sweet honey-barbecue sauce, with the char from a good grilling to match.

The “cinnaparts” delivered on the promise its name suggests. This looked like monkey bread, a lump of oven baked dough that you easily pull apart to take a portion of. They looked like dumplings and tasted like a watered down cinnamon bun with runny icing. A nice way to round off a full course meal a la “Pizza Hut”.

 

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.
Pizza Hut pizza is a staple for me, when craving a greasy pie it has to be the “hut”. I like the taste and texture of their crust the most, which I think is what sets a pizza apart from its competition. This is reason enough to have me going back for more. But hopefully delivery is an option next time, as I don’t see much benefit for dining in at this time. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

PIZZA HUT
4775 East Hastings, Burnaby BC, V5C 2K8
605-299-0334
pizzahut.ca
Pizza Hut Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Joey Burnaby, Happy Hour

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My guest and I were looking for good drinks and cheap eats, and easily found both at “Joey’s”, this is one of her favourite restaurant chain and a usual go to. With $4 drinks and appetizers at $3.50 between 4 and 6pm everyday, I can see why.

We both live in Burnaby so came to the one on lougheed. It is hard to spot driving by, when not really looking. A sandwich board directs you to the door. A shared space used by anyone entering and entering the building to Joeys, the liquor store, or the parkade.

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The restaurant is a flight of stairs up. The space that opens up before you is divided between the lounge overlooking the bar, and the dining area that centres around an all glass wine cellar. We were given a two person booth seat sandwiched by it and the view of the skytrain tracks from our second floor perch.

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We tasted and tried from half their happy hour drink menu and all of the food one.

My guest made their “Super sonic gin and tonic” her drink of choice for the evening. 1oz for $4. She would drink four in total. Having a dollop of lime slush topping the drink was a nice nice twist.

I drank half as much as she did with two of their “Summer sangrias”. 3oz for $4. It was an easy to down, super sweet wine punch.

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The “Hawaiian tuna taco” was seasoned in a citrus soy marinade, mixed with avocado and a chilli miso sauce. Normally it is $13 for three so at $3.50 for each, you save $2.50 in the long run. It was a tasty and refreshing three biter, with a nice crunch from the deep fried wontons wrap repurposed as a taco. The poke that topped with a fresh and marinaded thoroughly, without being over salted with light soy.

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The “Sushi cone” was as good of an interpretation as the taco above. Tempura prawn, avocado, spicy mayo, and tobiko; bound in a pretty black and white sesame spotted wrap. All the textures offered a nice soft and chewy bite, but lacked flavour. The soy sauce was the finishing touch, giving it the seasoning it lacked. Sold separately during happy hour it was $1 each less than it is regularly.

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The Sliders royale” normally comes in threes, at $13.50 for the trio you are saving $3 total between 4-6pm each day. The patties are hand pressed and topped with their secret sauce and American yellow cheese. The flavour comes from the crispy and melty cheesy dribbling down its side. The patty was perfectly moist and plenty meaty, and pickles offered the tang that was otherwise missing.

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Still hungry, but looking for something else, we turned to the regular appetizer menu. There we ordered things a lot less fresh, and a lot more fried. This led us to the “Calamari fritti”, fried squid with tempura vegetable, served with a spicy aioli for dipping. It was your regular calamari, but the tempura vegetable was a nice addition. It offered something to change the taste and texture in a mound of crispy fried goodness.

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Not on the menu by themselves, but an option that was easy enough to order as a side serving, was their trademark “Crispy mashed potatoes”. Fluffy mashed potatoes whipped smooth, folded into a wonton wrapper, and the fried. An order comes with two and we had each our own. Mostly because I wanted mine with bacon, and she rathered not. And to not let good bacon go to waste, I asked for what she didn’t get on hers, on mine. They were thoughtful enough to put it in a dish so that my portion wouldn’t be overloaded with bacon. It was the perfect baked and mashed potato mix with crunchy bites and sour cream. Delicious, I want one now just writing about it.

After this we were happily on our way, having drunk and eaten our fill.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
As I have stated before, I don’t normally visit chain restaurants. With so much to offer in this city, why waste a meal spent eating what you know, when you can try something new? Though sometimes you want a guaranteed feel good dinner. That place where you know the food would be solid and the setting would be nice. This was that place for us tonight. A safe bet at a good price. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

JOEY’S
1899 Rosser Ave S, Burnaby BC, V5C6R5
604-564-563
joeyrestaurants.com
JOEY Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

White Spot’s Pirate Pak Day

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Pirate Pak Day at White Spot, Wednesday August 10th, 2016

 

This would be my first time enjoying the well known promotion. Once a year adults gather to relive a bit of their childhood with “White Spot’s” “Pirate Pak” meals. This “Pak” is their equivalent of a happy meal, usually only reserved for kids under 10. It comes with a main, side, drink, and dessert all wrapped up in a colourful package. In this case a card board pirate ship with bow and stern, portholes, and even a sail, held up by your drink straw mast. You get a choice of burger and drink, with fries, ice cream, and a gold foiled chocolate coin.

And the best part is not only being an adult and able to order said kids meal, but each one you do order on this day is to support the “Zajac Ranch for Children”. The “Zajac Ranch” is a BC based summer camp that brings a little fun to children and young adults with serious medical conditions. You pay an extra dollar for your meal and “White Spot” meets it with another, with a total of two dollars from every “Pirate Pak” going towards this great cause.

Given the obvious steady traffic of the day we decided to have our lunch later at 2:30pm, but we were still greeted with a hefty wait for a table at our local “White Spot” chapter. 25 minutes plus just for a table and then another 30 minutes plus for our meal to be made and presented.

Therefore we decided to try another option for the first time: drive in. “White Spot” is one of the original restaurants offering this service and still does. Drive ins are where you dine in your car, instead of battling for a table or leaving the comfort of your vehicle. It makes the service faster and is ideal for lazy people like myself. The down side, the mess you create and then have to clean up eating in your own vehicle, whereas no one dining in really minds making a mess at a restaurant they don’t have to tidy afterwards.

To begin you start by pulling into one of their designated stalls in the parking lot, behind the building. “Drive in service only”. Facing the restaurant you are in clear view of their back door and the staff working out of it. A sign instructs you to turn on your hazard lights for service. It also lists the certain times when this option is available.

The menu is also on the side of the building, but only the burger and fries fast food options are available. I think anything else is a bit more problematic to have in your car.

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But we were here strictly for the “Pirate Pak”, and only had a few options for our burger mains. The veggie, chicken, bacon cheddar, or their “legendary burger”. But be warned the “legendary burger” actually only comes with a patty and sauces. No lettuce, tomatoes, or any other fixings. After asking and hearing that we switched our orders from that least inexpensive option at $12.49, for something more substantial at $14.99.

Then you sit and wait with whatever music you want, in what ever climate you toggle the car’s cockpit to. The meal is brought out balancing on a slim retractable tray. The tray’s spokes insert into the window’s ledge when you wind it all the way down. Our server was very skilled in bringing this out with one hand, then fitting it into place with the passenger’s help. Though this had us eating at our armpits, at an uncomfortable height. My partner later struggled to modify the tray closer to our lap level for better ease of eating. He did so by dangerously lowering the tray to rest on the arm rest on each driver and passenger side door.

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He had the bacon cheddar burger with 7-up that was flat. The beef patty was very juicy, bring it together with plenty of mayo and a watery tomato, and this was a messy burger. Everything ended up spilling out of the two buns. This was a little too messy for comfort eating in the car. This was the kind of burger you get all over your mouth and have to wipe it up with a moisten towelette.

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I had the Mediterranean chicken burger with ice tea, and my beverage of choice still tasted good even if it was flat. The burger was like Greek salad between two buns and lettuce. It came with red peppers, cucumber, tomato, and plenty of tzaziki sauce. This too was messy with a generous helping of the white dill flavoured dip. But it was necessary, given how very dry the herbed chicken breast was. The sauce helped to keep things moist.

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As for the act of eating, there was a constant fear of making a mess. Spilling drinks that eventually ended up in the car’s cup holder. And catching crumbs with our laps, that ended up being shaken off or picked up an dropped out the open window. The worst was trying to have fries with your burger. Both came stacked in trays one over the other. And the only way to have both at the same time was to displace one tray, and there weren’t many options to rest it on. The rest of the cardboard ship was built to hold a sauce container of ice cream, all your needed utensils and extra condiments in a zip lock bag, and the gold coin. We eventually rested our burgers on the side where our beverages use to sat. Overall a great novelty, but one that I wouldn’t prefer to do again, unless I am just having chicken nuggets and fries.

 

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.
My ranking above is just for the day and the event, not for every day dining. (See my previous post on “White Spot” for that assessment.)
Pirate Pak day is a favourite for many, so I advise planning out your day and expecting a wait. The drive-in option is a good solution for those who are not prepared to queue, but be warned, it comes with a struggle. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

WHITE SPOT (Gilmore)
4129 Lougheed Hwy, Burnaby BC, V5C 3Y6
604-299-4423
whitespot.ca
White Spot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wah Lun

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Tonight I was visiting another Chinese restaurant with my extended family, this time to celebrate the aging of my grandmother. My aunt specifically choose this as our destination due to the close proximity of it to our homes, the fact that they have plenty of parking within their own adjacent lot, and the face that there was easier accessibility for my grandmother with her walker.

The building had an interesting shape to it. A two tiered boxy awning with sloping red tile roof. This design element certainly made it look more oriental. On the right side of the building was a concave fish bowl of a window. It bubbled out from the side, but was dingy and blocked off inside, from giving you a peak in.

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Inside, the lobby was lined with dark brown planked cupboards. Not only did the space use flyers to advertise a few of their seafood specials, but it was functioned as the area to take a look at the actual live lobster, crab, and fish that they would be preparing as well. All this, lit in the light of a glittering crystal chandelier.

The dining area was pretty standard as far as Chinese restaurants go. Ornate carpeting to hide stains, white table cloths for easy clean up, and some choice Chinese art and charms to stir up good fortune.

We arrived for an earlier dinner, being one of the only three tables seated on a slower Monday. We were serenaded by verbal silence and audible hum of fluorescent lights. Though this buzzing peace would not last as the restaurant began to fill to half its capacity. And with it, the room filled with the loud talking of families in jovial laughter, and servers as they shouted to get their points across. And yet this was just half the intensity of a fully seated service, on a busier day, other than Monday.

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The slower day also benefitted us with better service. There weren’t as many patrons and as a result, the staff were much more attentive. Our meal began with a plate of individually wrapped wet wipes. It was a nice touch to allow you to clean your hands before you started eating. Another serving of it came around after the shellfish course. And we were also given a side of sauces to use as we saw fit, a jug of red vinegar, usually for the soup. And a split dish of chilli sauce and mustard, for those who liked more heat in their food.

We ordered the 10 dish set course called the “Full house banquet”. It and everything else on the menu was written in Chinese, so my quoted translations are what my father was able to literally translate from Chinese to English.

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The “Four happiness cold dish” was four appetizers on one platter, not all of them were cold, but served colder given the need to arrange and present.

The sweet chilli marinaded jelly fish was chilled. I enjoyed its rubbery texture, and my ability to slurp strings of it up through pursed lips. Like chilled noodles, but thicker and with a better chew.

The slice of pork hoc was also cold. Its thiner slices hid the fattiness and saltiness of each piece.

The fried prawns were served warm, within its shell that you can eat as is. However I still pass on consuming the tip of the tail. It was good, but I would have liked it with more minced garlic and chilli slices for a nice fiery taste, and more frying for a better crunch.

The fried chicken knees were salty, with the crunch I was looking for above. It had an even breading that hid chewy cartilage. Mind you, the sensation of grinding cartilage while eating isn’t for everyone. But everyone one in my family enjoyed it; sans my mom who bit down hard, only to pull out something you would never expect, from her mouth.

My mother bit down on a chicken knee only to find a bent staple embedded in it. She brought it to our server’s attention and got nothing but a nod. No apology and no responsibility taken, and sadly this just seems to the typical Chinese restaurant’s response. They almost seem angry that we brought it to their attention, like we were wasting their time. Whereas she should have just swallowed it down and not make a fuss. My mother remained chipper, saying she would have been more grossed out by a stray hair in her food. A debate ensued on what was worse. I wondered where the staple even came from and what they used it in the kitchen for? I also brought up the fact that a staple is much more dangerous. She could have choked on it, or worse, having to feel it passing down the esophagus and once again out the rectum. And what would the restaurant have to say then?

The sad, but accepted mentality of dining at a Chinese restaurant is that the restaurant never takes any fault. And I don’t agree with this lower standard of service. They chalk up any unsatisfactory experience and the fact that you didn’t enjoy the food to the hazards of eating out. No one followed up with us, we weren’t offered a replacement plate, no apology was given, and not even a discount on the bill was taken into account.

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However they did extend an olive branch, by offering us a complimentary tray of birthday buns for the birthday we were here to celebrate. These were peach shaped buns filled with sweet red bean paste. They are one of the many symbols of longevity in Chinese culture. The buns were doughy and still warm from their steam. The filling was the only thing giving it flavour, and sadly there wasn’t enough of it to go around.

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The “Jade Double seafood” was a dish with prawn, chicken, and broccoli, despite its translated name. Everything was coated in a thick clear sauce. A little gummy, it moisten everything making the shrimp soft and the broccoli florets saucy. Only the one slice of carrot cut into a pattern stayed hard.

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With the “Chilli pepper double squid and fish” it was hard to tell one from the other. I preferred the former with its rubber-like chewy, than the softness of the fish that crumbled with the batter. But I advise eating both quick, as they got soggy fast from fhe extra oil saturating the breading.

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Typically such a meal starts with soup to get the appetite going. Something to warm up an empty stomach, so we were curious why it ended up being the fourth course out of our ten. This was “BBQ chicken shark fin” soup. An imitation of shark fin soup using chicken. There was a debate on whether it was real or fake shark’s fin, and another on whether the soup is acceptable and should continued to be offered. Especially given that the fin of a shark offers no nutritional value or taste, and the sharks that they are harvested from are treated to slow and painful deaths because of this practice. The soup was thickened for a semi gel like consistency. Salted with chicken broth and accented with the red vinegar my family stirs into the mix.

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The serving of “Ginger onion lobster crab” come with a whole lobster and a whole crab. I don’t typically partake in such a plate nor would I ever order this alone. I don’t like the work of cracking meat from shell, and find it laborious, even with a nutcracker in hand. In this rendition the ginger flavour is most prominent in the sticky sauce. But overall it had nothing standing out. A dish like this is more for prestige than to satisfy, as you don’t actually get a lot of meat. But instead end up with sticky fingers, messy mouths, with very little gains. It did also mark the half way point, where we were given fresh clean plates in exchange for ours filled with bones and shells.

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The “Sea fresh” was a whole steamed fish carved up at our table. Our server removed the spine and set it aside for easier dividing. This showmanship and carving for the whole animal is very indicative of Chinese cuisine, and mostly unseen on a western plate. The flavour was a light soy, accented with ginger and garlic. Very mild to highlight the natural flavour of the fish.

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“Scallop, mushroom, and young shoots” was enoki mushroom, sliced shiitake, and baby bok choy chopped up in a gooey sauce. A thickened sauce with a similar feel to the shrimp and broccoli dish above. I skipped the green vegetable because of its wilted texture, and instead focused on the chewy mushrooms, which I liked much more.

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The “Emperor’s wife chicken” was a free range bird served whole. At most Chinese restaurants you are served the animal head, bones and all. It is unspoken proof that you are getting the entirety of the animal that you paid for. Whereas in western cuisine it is customary to keep the eating easy with the removal of bones and anything inedible before cooking and plating. This cold chicken, the yellow skin, and its bloody red joints are a scary sight to those unfamiliar with this dish. It is even customary to find the occasional hair follicle remaining on the plucked skin. However, for our family this is one of the dishes we look forward to. It is familiar and delicious with its salted skin. It isn’t a strong flavour, but a good pairing as a side for the more tastier dishes before and after.

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The “Seafood fried rice” included scrambled egg, Chinese broccoli, carrot, and shrimp. It has enough favour to be eaten alone or with any of the saucier dishes. Such a feast typically ends in such carbs, a mound of rice or noodles in case anyone is still hungry. It is also often served in conjunction with the chicken above, as both pair nicely.

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The traditional red bean soup was listed for dessert. However, seeing another table exchange their grainy bowls of maroon for puddings of orange, we too followed suit.

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I will always choose smooth over grainy when it comes to desserts, and my choice did not disappoint. Each single serving of mango pudding was shaped like a koi fish. Good, but needed some evaporated milk to make it great. It was too dry without 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.
This was your typical Chinese seafood restaurant. The food no better and no worst than the other places we have been. The presentation no different that the others We have seen. So without any positive standouts I can go either way with a return trip. Great that we got 10 complimentary buns, bad that it came at the cost of chewing a staple. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

WAH LUN
4524 Hastings Street, Burnaby BC, V5C 2K4
604-294-8059
wahlunchineserestaurant.com
Wah Lun Chinese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cristos Taverna

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My partner and I came here for dinner forgetting we have been here before, and that we had declared we wouldn’t be back. We have just eaten at so many different places and I have just written about so much, that I end up repeating the ones that are less memorable. This was the case today. Although we walked in to over hear that they are now under new owners, and we would later find out this came with new menu pricing and different quality of food. So in this post, I was able to reference my older entry and make an accurate comparison.

I wrote last time that the prices were on the steep side and it was still the case today, if not more. The prices were higher when comparing it to other Greek tavernas in Burnaby. Appetizers started at $10 and went to $15. A bowl of cheese, olives, and artichokes was priced at $10, where at other places $5 would suffice. All entrees started at $20, climbing to $28. Previously I had the souvlaki for $17.95 (according to my own post from year ago) and today it was now $20. I ordered it any how, wanting to have the same thing to be able to compare the two visit. Hopefully it wouldn’t be as bland and as overcooked as it was first time I had it. I kept it positive with the thoughts of a new owner and a possible new chef? New standards and better preparation? At least the customers coming in and leaving happy had me believing this.

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Despite all the changes on the menu, the decor was as I remembered it. The building was white with blue accents to speak to the Greek heritage. On the side of the building, blue shutters with a blue and white striped awning, strung with Christmas lights, set over over painted blue flower boxes.

The restaurant is structured like a house with a deck and front door that opens up into a foyer. Just beyond is a set of a steps leading to their second level. An elevated platform and a banister splits two sections apart. They separated couples and families between the two floors. It was a smart idea to keep the desired ambience flowing.

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To get to our seats on the main floor we walked through a pointed archway. We were given a table, next to a dusty ledge. The darkness of the room made it more tolerate-able. On this ledge were shot glasses, jars of sand, and tiny baskets of shells. It played off the colourful starfish mobile that hung off the bamboo fencing woven with fake vines. This scene spoke to the rest of their “more is more” decor. No space would be left undecorated. Two areas with plenty of souvenirs and knick knacks to keep your neck moving and your eyes roving. There were the usual Greek artifacts: decorative urns, commemorative plates, a brass helmet with red plume, and table top sized Greek statue and architectural replicas. Across a white stucco walls were photos of landscapes depicting white buildings in front of blue skies and bluer waters. There were fake plants hanging in wire baskets from the ceiling, a few set of moose antlers on display, and a bubbling fountain with smoke in the corner. Out of it all, I remembered the bottles of grey goose above the bar filled with florescent blue liquid. And the figurines beside them dressed in traditional Greek costume. It all matched the traditional Greek music playing overhead. The clutter helped with the theme and gave the restaurant some theatrics.

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The owner played host and sat all patrons coming in. Leaving the one lone server to move about the room tending to everyone himself. He seemed swamped working the six sat tables at once. He had help in the young man bussing after him, but was left to communicate with everyone himself. He would check in on us, asking how we were, but would cut us off if we began telling him of our needs. He made these connections to assure tables he remembered them and would be back to help. When I finally got his attention I was able to tell him about the hair I found on my plate. A single strand imbedded into my lumpy tzatziki sauce. When brought to his attention, he didn’t flinch or seem to care. He said nothing, but would later came back with the bill, giving us 20% off the total cost for our troubles. At this point I had eaten my way to full. I was apprehensive about doggy bagging the rest of my unfinished food, but did so hoping the hair was isolated to just the tzatziki. The food was that good.

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Once again I got the same “beef souvlaki” entree as I did during our first visit. I want to be able to compare it then to now with the $2 price increase. The pieces of beef were inconsistent, some were over cooked, and others came with a pink centre. When it was good, it was tender. When it was not so good, it was dry and chalky.

Their souvlaki came in chicken, lamb, or beef. It, like all the other entrees comes with rice pilaf, roasted lemon potatoes, Greek salad, tzatziki, and pita. All pretty standard in Greek dining. The rice was seasoned well. It had plenty of flavour as is, and need not be treated as just a side. Similarly, the potatoes were tender and herby. Besides the hair, the tzatziki was a little chalky. Not creamy for dipping with the pita or potato as I expected.

When our meal was served we were only given one pita to share between us. I asked for whom it belong to and who’s plate came without a round of oiled and toasted pita bread. Our server stated that if we wanted another we could have it, and that they only give out one as most people don’t eat the pita to its entirety. If that was the case, I would have rather a conversation instead of an assumption on their end. As a diner, I want to get want I was promised, and what I believe I would be paying for. One less pita isn’t much on the long run, but the cost of our meal as charged is based on what you get, one less pita and the cost of it wouldn’t be deducted from the price you paid. The conversation should have been our server giving us the option of a second pita and we as diners, given the choice to turn it down and not have to pay for it. Or better yet, have the menu advertise adding a pita bread to any entree for $1 more. Needless to say we felt obligated to finish both pitas to the last crumb.

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My partner varied from his bland chicken souvlaki of last time and went for the “Arni psito”. It came recommend when he was reading up on the restaurant online. This was meaty lamb shoulder cooked over many hours in an herb sauce. It too came with the same sides as above. The lamb was extremely tender and full of flavour. There was lots of meat and gristle, but it wasn’t necessarily worth $24. We have had similar, if not better lamb, with more of everything at $6 less. $6 better spent on appetizers.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
My final assessment of this restaurant remains the same. It isn’t my first pick for Greek, nor is there much to set it aside from all the others Greek restaurants that serve similar food. The service was standard, the food decent, but the pricing remains on the steeper side. I did not felt I got more for more. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

CRISTOS
4624 East Hastings Street, Burnaby BC, V5C 2K5
604-299-0008
cristos.ca
Cristos Greek Taverna Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Whole Foods Marketplace

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The new “Whole Foods” in Burnaby is open. Being in my neck of the woods, I like many others, wanted a look inside; and the Facebook adverts popping up on my feed peaked my interest.

It was an impressive building, one of many business popping around this new high rise residential area. This will soon be the place to be with a pizza parlour, liquor store, and hair removal boutique.

With many ways to enter, we did so from the back, parking our vehicle underground. The “Whole Foods” was on the second floor, up a flight of escalators. Like all grocery stores there were bins of seasonal specials and fresh fruit for sale out front to greet you.

We came in for lunch and headed right to their marketplace, a food court of sorts. We were surprised by the assortment from their cooked food bar as well as their various themed stalls.

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In the centre of the open space were several rows of open food. The first row of trays was their cold bar. Toppings for you to assemble your perfect salad, all perfectly chopped. And not just your regular lettuce and tomato assembly, but there were over two dozen items to choose from and bevy of dressings and vinaigrettes to mix and match with. Four different types of leafy greens, purple cabbage, steamed eggplant, artichoke hearts, purple beet chunks, radish slices, snap peas, pineapple in cubes, peel shrimp, and corn kernels; just to list a few of the more exotic choices available. Over 30 metal trays to peruse through, at $2.49 per pound.

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After that was the hot food bar. A row of vegetables in green and orange; like herbed carrot, kale salad, coleslaw, and potatoes with peas. Followed by some Chinese inspired sides like fried rice, tofu puffs, and stewed bok choy. There was also some meat to round off a full meal. Like a buffet line, where you pay per pound instead of all you can eat. And unlike a buffet, most of these were all healthy dishes, no guilty feelings of remorseful eating an hour after.

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Having tried the above in the past at other “Whole Food” locations, and not being wow-ed by their pre-cooked healthy dishes, I decided to pass on them now.

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Similarly, their sushi stall didn’t do anything for me. They rolled sushi for you. You choose the wrapping, the vegetable filling, a sauce, and a topping. I didn’t bother exploring this option any more in detail, so am unable to list any of the options for the above. But this definitely didn’t sound like normal sushi, more things wrapped in rice served with a sauce for dipping. Basically a rice wrapped burrito stuffed with random ingredients and cut into bite sized rounds.

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They also had a deli with cold cut sandwich options and charcuterie sliced to order. Their signature sandwiches seemed interesting, especially seeing all the tubes of meat and bricks of cheese laid out before you. Amongst this was also a large assembly of full entrees complimentary to the “buffet line”. They were held behind glass and priced separately per pound. The more expensive, fancier stuff.

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However I was looking for something a bit more unique. So instead stopped at the East Indian inspired stall: “Blackbird Street Food”. They specialized in the “Dosa” and “Frankie”, as depicted on the two signs framing the stand. “Frankie” is Indian flat bread grilled and stuffed as you liked. The “dosa” had a similar concept except it used an Indian lentil crepe as its casing.

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The stall offered three ways to enjoy their mains. Either the two above or as a “biryani”, which is like a salad bowl without the carbs. All were priced at $9 each. And each option had a premade example on display. It being behind glass helped in your ordering process. It was enough to have me standing in line for one.

You start by choosing how you want to consume your main. I went for the dosa, the crepe made with rice flour and black lentils. Though it was actually more eggy and spongy in taste and texture. It was not made to order, but heated over a grill to warm.

All ingredients were laid out before you in metal trays, and listed on the menu behind the lone staff member working. But he still took the time to explain to me what each item was.

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Your choice of mains are between vegetable curry, butter chicken, goa fish curry, and lentil dahl. The toppings: corn and peas, shredded carrot or shredded beet, diced tomato, cucumber, and pickled onions. You also get to choose sauces for your wrap.

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I went with the popular choice of butter chicken, making him scrape the bottom of the container to have enough for my dosa. This included rice to have it more filling. To it I requested the addition of corn, tomato, carrot, and beets. I then had it finished it off with some coconut yogurt and mango chutney. Though the glass that separated us and the hum of equipment behind him, made it hard for him to hear my order, and for me to hear what he offered.

The lot of it was then folded in to a bundle and wrapped in tin foil. Just watching this process I knew eating would be a challenge. I saw tears in the dosa and the ingredients spilling out, despite how gingerly he was treating my parcel.

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In didn’t like the heaviness of the wrap with its grainy and egg-like texture. It was more like an dense omelette than a fluffy crepe. And because it reminded me of egg, I longed to have it with ketchup. And given how bland I found it, the ketchup would have helped. Though a ranch dressing or a Italian vinaigrette would have been best over the cold and raw vegetables. I really missed the yogurt and chutney. After a few initial bites, I ended up eating the rest with knife and fork, like a meal out of a dosa bowl. It only got worse when I unwrapped it and everything spewed out.

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My partner went with their Mexican option at their “Taqueria”. Meat or grilled vegetables in burritos, bowls, or tacos. Similar to the Indian place they too had all their ingredients laid out in metal tubs for you to pick and choose as you pleased. But where they differ was in the chilli lime crema, guacamole, jalapeño, corn salsa, cilantro, tomato, etc.

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He went with a chicken burrito that came with rice and beans. There were plenty of toppings in his burrito, but not much meat. I felt the same way for my dosa. And like the dosa it was a little bland. We missed all the sauces, dips, and cheeses that come with North American fast food burritos.

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We then stopped at their pizza oven to grab a premade slice of thin crust. This was their wood fired New York style pizza stand. It included an authentic looking pizza oven and a young man wielding a paddle in operation of it. All the available pizzas are laid out behind glass for you to choose by sight.

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We went for the classic Margarita pizza. Thin crust with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and basil. It was the best of the three items we ordered. Light and delicious, a great pizza considering it was from a grocery store.

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Everything we ordered was wrapped for travel and priced to scan. We brought it to the regular check out to pay. The express lanes make the process a little quicker for those only here to eat, like us.

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After paying, we went to their seating area, adjacent to the cafe serving coffee and baked goods. This was a designated section with tables and benches for you to unwrap and devour. It was just like a fancier food court decorated with origami birds strung from the ceiling.

 

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.
Although it wasn’t the most satisfying meal I have had, I felt good about eating it. For a quick, easy, and healthy meal I can definitely see myself returning. Not to mention they have an impressive bakery and dessert bar that I have yet to discover. However, more likely I will be heading to a fast food substitute as I don’t deny my cravings.

 

WHOLE FOODS
4420 Lougheed Highway, Burnaby BC, V5C 3Z3
604-205-5032
wholefoodsmarket.com
Whole Foods Market Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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