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

Category: Point Grey

Rajio, 5th year anniversary menu

Today I was at “Rajio”, getting a sneak peak at their new limited edition menu. From November 11-18, 2017 they are offering five different items at a special price to celebrate their 5th year landmark.

And this is something to get excited about. “Rajio” is one of the more unique Japanese tapas places I like to recommend, and would frequent, if it wasn’t such a drive away. But, a “try-it-before-it-goes” menu is a good enough of a reason to return.

Tasty Japanese tapas plates aside, they are iconically remembered for their feature wall of plastic masks. Popular Japanese characters in rows, back lit to have glowing eyes. Minnie with her pink dotted bow, Hello Kitty with heart shaped glasses, and Pikachu; to name the few of the cartoon icons that I don’t have to look up.

Under them were signs advertising this event in gratitude, thanking their loyal patrons for the landmark years. This limited edition menu of six items is for them. And during this week of celebrating they will also be handing out prizes. All guests will be invited to participate in a lottery-draw on their app. Like a Japanese style roulette where there will be surprises to be won.

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

This is steamed chicken rolled and stuffed with a mix of cream cheese, shiso leaves, and truffles. The meat was served cold, a temperature you need to be use to and prepared for, if you are to enjoy this. It comes with two different sauces to add some flavour. A sweet chilli and a green onion mixture, the latter was reminiscent of Taiwanese chicken. I enjoyed the taste and the tacky nature of the cream cheese centre. Overall, a unique starter to go back to again for more.

This sashimi platter typically comes with two of each of the following pieces of raw seafood. However, during this occasion it would come with three pieces of each, 15 in total at $15.80. Three pieces of Yellow tail, three of Albacore tuna, three Sockeye salmon, three slices of Squid, and three chunks of Snow crab. All together everything was fresh and the plate was quickly and easily scrapped clean.

Next was the “Beef cutlet set” breaded and fried beef served over a beet and greens salad with an olive oil dressing, and homemade steak sauce. I liked the texture of the beef with its crispy wrap. It was balanced by the tangy refreshing nature of the vegetables. So well dressed that not a leaf was left on the plate.

Next we had Yellow tail pressed sushi. I liked the tender fish over the chew rice. Shame I couldn’t get past the strong taste of shiso sandwiched in the middle of the rice patty. I found it over powering and distracting from the gentle nature of the fish.

The Beef short rib with balsamic vinegar glaze was amazing. It smelled terrific and followed through on its flavour. Tender strings of meat that you just wanted to dip generously into and scoop up gravy with.

And the one I recommmed is their Sea urchin and oyster fried rice. There was no hiding the uni in this. And despite how little of it there seemed to be, there was plenty to scent and fully flavour the rice once you mix it all up. I just wanted another texture to chew through. A piece meat or some more shredded vegetables?

And not on their 5th anniversary menu, but one of their most popular Osaka soul food dishes, is their “Kushi Katsu”. These are battered crispy meat and vegetables on sticks that you dip into sauce with. Here we shared a mushroom, shrimp, egg plant, hot dog and pork skewer.

And naturally, seeing as this was a celebration, this evening they also featured their signature fruit cocktails and a flight of sake to mark the occasion. These and the hip hop and top 40 club hits helped to keep the energy of the room jovial.

Their spiked fresh fruit served whole is a crowd pleaser. A hollowed out pineapple or watermelon, juiced then mixed with vodka and topped with slices of citrus fruit. Each delivered on its promise of the fruit it was served in. This would be the only way you could get such tropical drinks throughout the year.

For more on Rajio and their decor and regular menu, check out my original visit post.
http://vieamaggi.com/rajio-japanese-public-house/

 

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.
Still a great place I would recommend, and even more so during this event. Don’t deny your cravings

 

RAJIO
3763 W. 10th Avenue, Vancouver BC, V6R2G7
604-558-1679
rajiopublichouse.com

Grounds for Coffee

Cinnamon fuelled fun.

 

Today I was invited to a media event at “Grounds for coffee”, a cafe that has called Alma and Broadway its home for over 20 years.

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

The smaller cafe would be gated and closed to host us, this evening. During after hours when they are normally shut down for business past 6pm. It is a small space with wrap around seating. Majority of their square footage is designated for the kitchen, where industrial equipment live and are used to make all their baked goods in house, often daily.

You order at the counter, either squinting up at the chalkboards or peering past the reflection of the glass showcases at thigh height. But this is the kind of place where if they can, they will accommodate any and all of our requests. The staff were most cordial and friendly. They spoke highly of what they helped to prepare and wore their passion on their faces.

Their dim lighting and peaceful ambience makes them a great cozy destination. Suitable for studying, but I think better for socializing at with a friend. Although with the bus stop right outside, they are probably more popular as a quick stop for a grab and go coffee, snack or treat.

They also serve smoothies in fruit and frappuccinos in flavours like strawberry cheesecake and cinnamon. We too were given miniature versions of this to try. The Strawberry cheesecake frappe had a lighter, watered down strawberry flavour, where you only slightly got the salty cheese coming through. An interesting interpretation, and one worthing traveling here to try. Similarly, was the Cinnamon bun frappe. It was very cinnamon forward, I just wished the bun that balanced out the cinnamon and sugar of an actual bun could have been represented in the drink as well, to give it some more depth and balance.

But if you are looking to dine in, they offer comfortable seating with a cushioned bench that runs along the right hand wall, set with throw pillows. And two recliners by the window. The latter was an ideal setting for reading a book as you sip on a latte and nibble on a muffin. We were given miniature versions of the various flavours of muffins to try, because who can really eat a whole muffin during a tasting with so much more to try. Normally their super fruit oatmeal and espresso chocolate banana are available in regular muffin size. Moist muffins that are not sweet, great with coffee or tea.

They also offer savoury snacks and lunch options like calzones, wraps that require two hands to eat, and flatbread like the one above. This is their grilled vegetable one with coloured peppers, mushroom, and zucchini. All the vegetables they use are sourced from “Spud” (a grocery store offering fresh produce that is locally sourced, organically grown, and sustainable for Metro Vancouver), and the dough for the bread base is made in house. The end result is some of the most refreshing bites I have ever had from a pseudo pizza. Garden marinara and a chewy crust.

But even with all that they offer and all that we tried, it is their cinnamon buns that they are well known for, or at least they should be. After all, over hundreds of the third party vendors offering cinnamon buns from grocery stores and cafes in and around BC and Alberta get their supply from “Grounds”. And most of their business is from the wholesale of these buns. And funnily enough, the origins of their cinnamon buns is actually a fluke. The owner actually started off his career as an investment banker, but after realizing he couldn’t see himself going down this road ten to twenty years from now, he redirected his life and poured his energy into baking. Specifically trying to make the best cinnamon buns in the city. If you ever taste them, you too would deem him successful in his endeavour. And the best part, they are significantly less in calories than the other major leading cinnamon bun provider. As well, they taste a whole lot better too. The difference is in the freshness of the bun, the springiness of the dough, the warmth of the cinnamon, and the sugar of the vanilla icing. And once again, this was by luck, the success of ab trial and error process. Where no recipe used, just a desire to succeed. Proof that it is never too late to pursue your dreams, and that with hard work and perseverance, you too can make your goals a reality.

And this is one of the main reasons why I love attending such events, I get to mingle with the staff and owners and learn a thing or two about the company they represent. As much as possible I try not to research the restaurant I am blogging about, I feel it takes away from the authentic experience. As a customer, you pass by a restaurant and if you like it enough by sight, you enter it for a meal. You don’t pull up its history or political position during this process. So why would I when I am recalling it in my posts. However, mingling with staff, and pulling from my conversations with them is a true account of my time representing myself as a foodie and food blogger (media). And therefore one I would like to pass off to you, the reader.

As I mentioned, the cinnamon buns were the highlight of the event, and we were able to get up close and personal with them. To watch a video of this, please click on the link. Here, I cram a jumbo cinnamon bun in my mouth and swallow, I dawn the title of “cinnamon bae”, and we give latte art a try.

 

The buns themselves we handmade fresh daily using only locally sourced, wholesome ingredients. And it is telling that they list what they are not made with, instead of what they are. For example their cinnamon buns do not contain nuts, trans fats, hydrogenated oils, eggs, bleached flour, raisins, or preservatives. But each is topped with their vanilla bean cream cheese icing.

 

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.
It is a little far to travel for me, from the one end of Lougheed from Burnaby to the other end in West Broadway. And as a cafe, not necessarily a destination. However if I find myself hankering for the cinnamon and sugar gooeyness of one of the cinnamon buns, and I will given how I have ranked them as the best in the city I have had so far; I can see myself commuting all the way to not deny my cravings. So you shouldn’t either.

 

GROUNDS FOR COFFEE
2565 Alma Street, Vancouver BC, V6R 3R8
604-224-5282
Grounds For Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Takumi Japanese Restaurant

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This month our sushi group decided to go for something more authentic. We came to “Takumi Sushi” for their “Japanese fine dining”. With our eight person party we were able to try most of the menu, and even went back for doubles of what we liked the most.

The restaurant is simple inside and out. The black awning with its matching sandwich board didn’t have it standing out. No posters pinned, no menu pages taped on the windows, just their logo frosted on the front glass. But like its cuisine, it didn’t need the extras bells and whistles, they had delicious food that stood on its own. Their attentive staff didn’t hurt either. The manager even took care to present our dishes in the best light so that I could take the perfect photo. Everyone was very attentive and extremely accommodating. Exactly as I remembered the locals of Tokyo to be when I visited last February.

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Stepping in, the room was fairly dim, each table was spot lit with its own hanging bulb. The focused light against the white tables made for ideal photographic food shots; so long as you go went at it from the right angle, to avoid your own shadow. The room was not over done. A green and white floral pattern dressed a few booth cushions. Evenly spaced out traditional Japanese paintings centred the right hand wall. Majority were of these white faces geishas, with dark black hair, and red ruby lips. And a set of antique wooden fishing poles crossed one another in fitting theme.

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The drink bar at the front of the restaurant was left unused. Though I am sure most would prefer to sit by the sushi bar towards the back. There a chef dressed in traditional uniform stood at the ready. Surrounded by showcases of chilled and fresh ingredients he made dishes to order.

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The following dishes are in order of when they were served, I am not bothering with the duplicated. We started with miso soup for some. The traditional bowls of miso came with chunks of tofu, seafood, and green onion. Their specialty miso was the “Nameko” miso soup. It’s name came from the miniature nameko mushrooms used.

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When there are vegetarians in your party, “Agadashi tofu” is always a safe bet. Vegetarian or not, there is something delicious about these blocks with their well fried crispy coat. Their flavour mostly comes from the light sauce they sit in. So unanimously popular that we had three servings in total.

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“Beef tongue robata”, slices of tongue grilled on the barbecue. Cut into halves, you couldn’t tell it was tongue meat if you didn’t already know. Sliced fairly thin, each portion was chewy and easy to eat. The delicious seasoning definitely helped you get over the fact that you were using your tongue to eat another tongue.

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The “Tuna Tataki” was really fresh, I could have personally eaten two servings worth myself. Thinly sliced sheets of raw tuna served in a light sauce, and flavoured with garlic.

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“Yaki-Nasu”. Fried Japanese eggplant served with ginger and topped with bonito flakes. Our server recommend us to dip each piece in soya sauce, and then enjoy it with a pinch of ground ginger. Japanese eggplant is a little less mushy than the regular variety, I found its texture similar to eating squash.

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The “Fusion style tempura” made quite the entrance, being served in a martini glass. These were bites of shrimp, battered then coated with the chef’s special sauce. Being this creamy, I am sure mayo was present in the mix. Each bundle was a bite of cheesy and melty, sweet and tangy all in one. Another dish I would like more of.

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This was their “Sushi a la carte” platter, assorted six kinds of nigiri. Here it was presented on the same plate as the extra tuna roll we ordered. Each piece was fresh. Our group of eight did our best to share the plate. It is quite the sight to observe someone attempting to split a nigiri in half with one chopstick. Especially as nigiri is meant to be taken in, in one bite.

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“Yaki udon”, pan fried udon with pork and vegetable. Sadly, my shared portion had more large pieces of onion than vegetable or noodle. The noodles served as a good filler. Salty noodles that were fun to slurp.

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A customized nigiri platter including two pieces of toro (tuna belly), two of Hamachi (yellow tail), two salmon (wild sockeye), two Saba (mackerel), and a Negi-toro roll. (Chopped toro and green onion roll).

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Negi-toro roll, chopped toro and green onion.

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I called this the customized unagi (fresh water eel) plate. “Unagi battera”, pressed sushi with fresh water eel, and “unagi nigiri”. The eel and the rice on both were seasoned the same, the presentation and the cuts was where they differed. Smokey barbecue eel slathered in a sweet sauce.

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With a visual name like “Rainbow roll”, this roll did not disappoint. An avocado, cucumber, imitation crab, and mayo filled roll, wrapped with assorted seafood. You choose a colour and it adds a new flavour component.

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The manager really sold us on this one so we got two order of the “Gyoza”. Their pan fried pork and vegetable dumplings were made in house, and you could tell. Severed piping hot. A chewy shell hiding moist bundles of meat.

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I have never met a short rib I didn’t like. “Short rib” marinated rib sauce. Smokey from the grill, with a sweet honey-like flavour.

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“Takumi house roll”. I expect a lot from a house roll, especially one that takes one the restaurant’s name. This had plenty, but as a stand out deserving of the brand, maybe not. Salmon, tuna, imitation crab, tamago (scrambled chicken egg), avocado, and mayo; with tobiko (fish eggs).

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“Mackerel robata”. Another well grilled barbecue dish. Lightly seasoned, the emphasis was on the fish.

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“Abalone nigiri” Not the most appealing looking, or the most filling, but certainly it was worth ordering for its one of a kind taste.

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This one our sushi novice guest made up. A custom roll ordered because she likes salmon and likes things spicy. Normally chilli spices are reserved for raw tuna; however this spicy salmon roll, created on a whim, was surprisingly good. They mashed up salmon and seasoned it with their chilli sauce mixture. Then they deep fried the rice at the bottom, to give the sushi the crunch the top half, with salmon, lacked. Packed full of flavour, was like eating a well seasoned salmon on rice or a crisp cracker.

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The manager over heard us contemplating dessert. Should we have some here or move the party else where? While we were still humming and ha-ing, as a surprise, they courteously brought us one of each of their three top best selling desserts. Each, simple in display, but all bold in their unique flavours. The “Coffee jelly” was my favourite. Even as a non coffee drinker, or one that doesn’t normally like the taste of coffee, I found this dessert delicious. It had the deep rich taste and aroma of coffee, but without its bitter accompaniment. And with the vanilla ice cream on top, it was like having your coffee with cream.

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The “Custard pudding” was served warm. The scoop of vanilla ice cream and the cold berry compote on top quickly melted and melded with the freshly baked dessert. A smooth, lick your spoon kind of dessert.

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“Black sesame ice cream” made in house. Despite it looking like wet cement, this was some of the best black sesame ice cream I have ever had. So fresh and fragrant, yet rich and bold. I would like to see it on top of a dessert or beside a complimentary cake.

 

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? – Yes.
They closed at 9:30pm, but so concerned with our enjoyment, they allowed us to stay without pressure. We never once reminded us of the time, nor they did assumptiously present us with the bill. Heck, they presented us with complimentary desserts to have us staying a little after 10pm. The only questionable negative I had was the need to pay 75 cents for each cup of tea, where other like places don’t charge for tea. Something we were not aware of until after we got the bill. However, I made sure to get my money’s worth and drink every last drop out of my very last cup. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

TAKUMI
4422 West 10th Avenue, Vancouver BC
604-730-0330
takumisushi.com
Click to add a blog post for Takumi Japanese Restaurant on Zomato

The Galley

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More sun means more patio time. This particular patio is further than where most would travel, though the view is certainly worth visiting. Though shame that the weather didn’t agree with us today.

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Located by Jericho beach, the drive is far, and the parking lot fee is pricy. So we took advantage of the decent weather and decided to park further away, enjoying our stroll to the Jericho Sailing Centre. We approached hesitantly. The exclusivity of the building, with it being a club with member only restrictions, and its chain gates doesn’t help the restaurant earn walk-in traffic.

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Since 1990, The Galley Patio and Grill has been one of Vancouver’s best beach front casual dining destinations. With their unique view, encompassing the downtown skyline, Stanley Park, the Northshore Mountains, Bowen Island, and the Straight of Georgia; they are a popular destination for locals and visitors alike.

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You enter through the side entrance of the sailing centre, travelling past the boats docked, up a flight of winding stairs, down an empty hall, and past bulletin boards with notices. You know you are at the restaurant from the looks of the snapped surfboard repurposed to a sign above red framed doors. This is not your usual route towards any restaurant, but this isn’t your typical restaurant. The restaurant and the it community centre it was built in comes with a rich story. It was going to be torn down in 1972, but sailors begged the city to save this historic building, so here it stands today, a community centre on the water. A momentum of an old military operation from World War 2, rebuilt to this sailing centre in 1900.

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The restaurant was your typical food court set up. You order at one of two counters and grab any available seat. The tables and chairs are simple in and out doors, though it is really the view on the patio you come for. A 140 person patio, with a members only side and another open to the public. Though if you like the space, but want a settling less casual, they do rent their rooms out for events. And with a table cloth and some natural elements they become a unique place for a larger birthday gathering or for an impressive work function.

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The service counter closest to the door was for your dressed up fast food, deep fried, lunch fair. Soups and salads, appetizers, sandwiches, and burgers listed on menus over head. Highlighted in red with white and blue stripes, it had a consistent sailor theme to it. To the right of this was the secondary counter serving more cafe friendly items. Instead of beer and wine it had coffee and tea. Muffins, croissants, and other baked goods sat ready behind glass. Though if you are in it for dessert you can choose from 12 classic flavours of neon bright ice cream. Bubble gum or tiger tail anyone? The ice cream was your classic scoop and serve from white buckets set up. Not that ice cream goes bad, but they didn’t looked all that appealing sitting at the very bottom of the bucket.

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You may be wondering how well they do without the sun and the great patio weather. They do well because of their food. They have recently hired a new chef to revitalize their menu, to improve the dinner program, and to have fun with their cuisine. After all you need a reason to bring them in, and a better one to have them coming back. Though even with the clump of clouds, the view is definitely worth the trip out. Today the sun was trying, and we still took in the scene before us with much delight. The thought of walking straight off the beach, up to this patio, with sand still in between your toes is an alluring one. And I can imagine even more so with the heat from a full sun shining against your shoulders.

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“Kettle chips & queso”. House fried kettle chips dusted in sea salt, served with their signature cheese sauce and jalapeños. I never had a chip so good. Fresh, crunchy, and light. I could haven eaten a bag of these with or without the creamy warm cheesy dip. Freshly fried really makes the difference.

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“Grilled sausage & kraut”. Pork sausage, sauerkraut, and hot mustard. The juicy and spicy sausage paired well with the fresh sour pickle. And the hearty mustard added some depth.

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“Wild BC salmon salad”. Grilled sockeye, green beans, olives, and a free-run egg; coated in a mango vinaigrette. This was a simple salad, only lightly dressed. I couldn’t make out the mango in the dressing, but was able to enjoy the freshness of the greens. The green beans were a nice addition, my first having them in a salad. Their crunchy snap was a nice contrast to the leafy greens. The boiled egg was stiff by comparison, I found the yolk over cooked. And the salmon was definitely the highlight of the dish, tender and flaky with a peppery seasoning.

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“Jamaican jerk chicken burger” with a mango salsa. The chicken breast was cooked perfectly, a moist centre with a slight char from the grill. The rub was evenly coated, it had a naturally smokey and spicy tone to it, it went down with a slight burn. I would go back just for this burger.

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“Grilled haloumi & avacado” flatbread with grilled zucchini and roasted red pepper, topped with crema. I liked this the most, and surprisingly so given its look, especially compared to the other more visually friendly appetizers. I liked it enough to google what “haloumi” was: “hard, unripened brined cheese made from a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk, and sometimes also cow’s milk.” It has a higher melting point, therefore you are able to boil or grill this cheese. It was like the most flavourful vegetarian taco that have ever had.

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“Sockeye salmon roll” with BC salmon, celery, onion, celery, and aioli, wrapped up in butter grilled roll. The salmon was a little on the dryer side. I could have used some mayo to moisten the mix. The celery and greens really helped to freshen up each bite.

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They call their nachos, “Vancouver’s best nachos”, made with “South of the border” taco meat, handmade salsa, onions, guacamole, roasted corn, black beans, and lots of nacho cheese. The size of the serving was most impressive. A dish fit for four with plenty of condiments to go around. In humour they called their toned down version of this, without the meat and corn: “Vancouver’s 3rd best nachos”. The greatness of a good nacho platter is in its size and elaborate dressing. Plenty of ingredients evenly sprinkled, served with fresh dips. This had it all.

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“Oceanside charcuterie”. Oyama select meats, Quebec cheeses, smoked salmon, olives, and bread. Pretty standard, you can’t go wrong with a good build your own bite of m meat and cheese.

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“Chilerio pulled pork”. Sinaloa Mexico pulled pork, cheddar, and jalapeño on a griddled sourdough bread.

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“All ‘Merica burger” made with jalapeños, ‘Mercian yellow cheese, red hot onions, and a chipotle mayo.

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“Baja fish sandwich” with beer battered cod, chipotle slaw, and salsa.

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Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
This is your old fashion beach style restaurant, serving light summertime classics that any one can find delight in. Dishes enjoyed best on their beach side patio with ice cold beers. They service the beach with their dressed up fast food. Not just hot dogs and onion rings, but chicken burgers and homemade kettle chips. All you do is walk up from the beach, and sit down to enjoy their view: English Bay, Vancouver, and beyond. Don’t deny your cravings.

THE GALLEY
Jericho Sailing Centre
1300 Discovery Street, Vancouver BC
604-222-1331
thegalley.ca
Click to add a blog post for The Galley Patio & Grill on Zomato

Rajio Japanese Public House, revist

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Its about four months since my original visit. I said I would be back and with the recent popularity of the place, it ended up being sooner than later. We missed out on horse meat sashimi last time so today marked it on the agenda. We built up the suspense only to learn it was a seasonal item, and it along with the season trotted out of our grasp.

To read my original visit post click here.

Arriving early I took the opportunity to park at a distance for no cost. It required a walk from a block away, instead of paying at one the multiple street meters just outside the restaurant. Despite the full restaurant only one car was parked in front. Did I miss a lot in the back? Walking in you are greeted in unison by the staff, done in a very typical Japanese fashion. A miscommunication of our 7pm reservations resulted in a delay before seating. We were eventually given a large table up front. It came dressed with additional plates and utensils, and had an add on table in order to turn this four top into a six. My only complaint, the cold. The days were chiller the sun settled sooner and the draft tickling my back meant I had to eat in my restraining jacket, and the uncovered tops of my feet would remain shivering. How a couple managed to dine outside on the patio is unknown to me. I guess it beats waiting for a table inside, and if you are accustomed to Vancouver weather it isn’t even an issue. However the heavy street traffic and the sounds of wheels sloshing through muddy puddles must not be ideal.

The room was still as I remembered it, dark with blackened walls. The colour choice did well to highlight the rows of masks. Masks of Japanese cartoon characters meant to be worn by children: Hello Kitty, Megaman, Doraemon, Pikachu, Mickey and Minnie, and the lesser known others. Each was illuminated with light bulbs, making them some of the most creative lamps I have ever seen. Japanese elements were also seen in the paper lanterns lining the awning outside, the tiles hanging over the bar, and print on the curtains leading to the washroom. It was all very culturally festive.

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I wondered about the grey scale photos of “DJ Katuya”. A gentleman with his image posterized and duplicated across the walls and doors of the restaurant. The flyer called him a “legend”. We didn’t ask, assumed he was a base ball player because of his ball cap, and that he also disc jockeyed based on his stage name. But after some sleuthing on the menu, we learned we were wrong. He was the head chief, Katuya. He had his own features on the daily menu, definitely making some creative interpretations. I guess he mixed dishes like a DJ mixes songs.

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“Rajio’s” popularity has grown since our last visit. The restaurant has now settled and since gained plenty of momentum. A fact seen by their branded napkins, professional matte coloured menus, and daily fresh sheets printed in colour. The menu was pretty descriptive, detailing ingredients and recalling flavours with the use of a thesaurus. It certainly painted a picture when the actual menu was void of any. The editor was quite flowery in their descriptions, adjectives used to lure your into ordering more. Overall they worked, but a few fell short in its biased account. You would get a “kick” out of their “raw Tako wasabi”. The white miso used in the “imaginative twist on an Italian classic” came from an “ancient imperial palace in Kyoto”. The balsamic vinegar in the “black sweet and sour pork rib” was said to add a “complex tangy sweetness to this classic crowd pleaser”. And the spice in their fried chicken was titled “heavenly”. How were we to choose through all these glowing recommendations? Luckily our host was Japanese, specifically from Osaka, where the restaurant takes most of their influences from. He led us on our journey, but made the mistake of assuming the staff were of Japanese descent too. So speaking to them in his native language didn’t last long. Four servers working the room, none dedicated to any table, each willing to help out as needed. As a result we were well taken care of, our glasses were kept full, our dining needs were met, and we felt appreciated as clients.

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Like last time, our meal began with a complimentary metal bowl of cabbage dressed in a salty daikon sauce to start. And like last time this was familiar to my Japanese host. He informed us that this is most commonly taken with beer. A less flavourful snack that marries well with the bitterness of beer.

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“Hibiscus Pink lemonade”, a sweet juice made with hibiscus flowers and sweet goji berries. Described as being “refreshing in lemon, steeped with “good for you stuff” for the best flavour”. The beverage was premade for the night and stored in a jug for easy serving.

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Green Tea. Goes well with salty and greasy foods.

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“Y’s Mommy’s assorted oden. So good the first time that we ordered it again tonight. Though it was not as exciting for me the second time around. Our host assured it was just as good this time and still tasted like something his mother would prepare for him. Ingredients long simmered in one pot to bring out their flavour in a rich broth. Assorted vegetables, meat, fish cakes, and a half boiled eggs in a kelp and clam based broth. The menu was more accurate in its description detailing the flavour as being “exquisite” as the ingredients slowly get absorbed to make for a good oden broth, a process taking many hours to achieve. Best enjoyed hot as a starter, thanks to its milder flavour when compared to the other dishes we enjoyed.

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“*Y* Ebimayo”, a Japanese classic. Their version, cilantro tempura battered tiger prawns served drizzled with a chilli mayo. Prepared with a side of deep fried prawn crackers for crunch. It was good, but not “revolutionary” like the menu suggested, more average. My guest choose this unashamedly for the mayo and his love of mayo. So much that we ordered a second side serving of mayo just for him. One of the servers was happy to comply.

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“Aburi toro avocado battera”. Lightly seared then pressed Canadian albacore tuna toro sushi, made with a thin layer of avocado, shiso herb, and their original black sauce. The sushi was a mess. The creamy avocado and mushy rice needed to be colder. As a result of its warmer temperature, they fell apart with each grab you made for them. However their taste still held up. The shiso accent in the sauce was delicious, it brought together well the fish and rice.

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“If you ain’t flying, you might as well be fried!” That is the actual name of their battered, super juicy pork tenderloin tempura with ponzu mayo sauce. This one was on October 8th’s fresh sheet. Like the dish itself, the name was quite a mouthful. The batter was well seasoned, and thoroughly breaded over the pork chop. I am not use to eating pork that isn’t bacon, but my guests assured me it wasn’t as dry as I thought it to be and that it was actually good for what it was.

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“Sea urchin and Ikura carbonara udon”. Like the menu said the “unique and creamy essence of sea urchin and Ikura make this ordinary udon special”. Then further persuaded you by asking and adding, “Love sea urchin? Salmon roe? Must try!” When is a creamy pasta too creamy? This was so rich from the heavy cream and sea urchin that we were glad to be sharing. Far too decadent to have a full portion yourself.

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“Bang! Bang! Chicken”, juicy tender steamed chicken with a “crunchy” jellyfish dressed in an “appetizing” Bang! Bang! Sesame sauce. This was more of a summer dish, kept chilled for the sake of the jellyfish, and eaten cool. Interestingly, picking through the pile we thought we spotted some fake shark fin in the mix. The dish was light, it felt like it was missing something; a starch, a heavier base, something to have this dish looking and feeling more substantial. Some bread, a cracker, a wrap, rice, a platform for what was essentially a shredded chicken salad. It would have also helped with the crunch needed from a harder texture.

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“Kushikatsu”, was the special of the restaurant. Homemade bite sized skewers featuring fresh ingredients. Each breaded with panko, then deep fried to a crisp. The menu mentioned it originating in the neighbourhood taverns of Osaka, and being enjoyed with their original secret dipping sauce and beers. Here you pay per skewer with no minimum order, or enjoy the pre-chosen, “premium skewer set” on the fresh sheet. With the latter you get skewers of bacon and asparagus, stuffed shiitake, prosciutto with broccoli, and tomato with basil. This compared to the everyday options of eggplant, onion, chicken, pork, beef, octopus, scallop, shrimp, etc.

With the trays of skewers lined in a row, came a tall jar of sauce for dipping and a container for storing used skewers. It was thoroughly emphasized that the sauce included a rule, a restriction to have only one dip per stick. A feature illustrated on the menu, a notion mentioned by each staff member, and a reminder repeated on the glass itself, “one dip, one life”. This they called the “friendly Osaka dipping style”. We hypothesized the need for this restriction: reusing the sauce. The only real need for high sanitation. My Japanese guest suggested that each dunk will also add layers of flavour into the sauce, dip after dip, ingredient after ingredient.

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As for the skewers themselves I found the pork overcooked and dry as a result. Grey in colour and saw dust in texture. The lack of moisture couldn’t easily be remedied by a mere dunk into a vat of sauce. The sauce itself was too saturated at the tip, with none to coat the last bite, closest to your hand. And because it is just one dip, you get what you get.

The panko breaded rice cake soaked up sauce like a sponge. Out of all the skewers, we deemed this the most enjoyable in taste and texture.

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I also enjoyed the lotus root, remembering how good it was the first time around, and wanting more now. However the fibrous nature of the plant threw the others off. I guess the chalk like stringiness of the root is an acquired taste that I grew up with.

The shiitake mushroom ones I liked the least. I don’t like the fungus normally, finding it too large and to chewy to get through. So found that everything about this tasted off, which made eating through it all the harder.

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The dessert menu was creatively written on a Japanese style hand held fan. Though we passed on any as none of the options seemed exciting enough. Cake, brulee, and tofu.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
My original assessment of the restaurant has not changed. The food is still good, I was just not as excited about it the second time around. It was no longer experiencing new flavours, just reliving ones tried previously. I will still come back and still recommend it because of its authenticity. I find them more traditional when compared to similar Japanese tapas places. The decor is just as cute and just as comfortable the second time around; though I now remember why I don’t come more often, the distance. Don’t deny your cravings.

RAJIO
3763 W. 10th Avenue, Vancouver BC, V6R2G7
604-558-1679
rajiopublichouse.com
Rajio Japanese Public House on Urbanspoon

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