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Category: Port Coquitlam

Popeyes Chicken

My partner is a fan of fried chicken, he eats chicken almost every day, and has it deep fried 2-3 times a week. Therefore when “Popeyes”, the Louisiana style chicken and fast food restaurant opened up, he wanted to see if he found a new place to enjoy his favourite protein, his favourite way. And to see how well this new edition to Port Coquitlam stacked stacked up against his favourites.

With it just recently opening, and online food publications doing a great job to promote this import from across the border, the restaurant was busy. It was 8:30pm on a Tuesday and the line wrapped around itself. Despite how many employees were behind the counter and how fast they worked, people continue to join the back of the line, thus it didn’t look like it was actually moving. And seeing as there wasn’t a drive through window, despite patrons taking their chicken home in boxes and styrofoam wrapped in paper and bagged in plastic, it was still tightly packed within.

But once you ordered and pay, your entire meal comes out pretty quick. But then there is the challenge of wanting to eat in and there not being enough tables for the high surge of people wanting to dine in too. This made our turn to sit and dine less enjoyable with groups hovering around, in order to be the first to sit after we get up.

We decided to try a variety of things to get a full assessment of this popular chain, for our very first taste. Three combos with our choice of three sides to go with it. The side options we didn’t choose were mashed potatoes, coleslaw, herbed beans and rice, corn on the cob, and cajun poutine.

I considered the cajun poutine, which would have cost me more as an “upgraded” side, only to learn that it is just cajun seasonings over your standard gravy and cheese over fries. Although it would have been nice to try their gravy as it is only available as part of the above or over mashed potatoes. They didn’t offer cups of it on the side for dipping, or maybe I just missed out the opportunity to get it as such.

Just as well, the fries were nice enough that you wanted to taste them. They didn’t stay crispy for long, nor were they the kind that you go back for more of. They simply had their own flavour with their special mix of cajun spices, and offered up nice breaks from everything else. Especially when enjoyed with some tangy ketchup, to help change the taste of your palate.

The fries were the side to their “Deluxe chicken sandwich”. Creole, cajun, or deluxe were your burger options. It was so loud that we couldn’t hear our clerk behind the counter when she explained to us the differences. The sandwich was centred around their breaded white meat chicken breast, a garlicky aioli, lettuce, and tomato, all on a chewy Portuguese bun. The chicken was was crunchy, you could taste the quality of the meat being used, with some lingering spice to it.

We had more of their chicken as is in their “3 piece combo”. All dark meat. The thigh, drum, and wing, each still steaming hot through and through. But whereas the thigh was good and the drum juicy, the wing sad and small. The seasoning doesn’t taste like any other, and again they used great quality chicken here too. Juicy meat hiding under a robe of crunchy goodness. I considered it good fried chicken, but not something I could only get from them. There are other fried chicken options out there, similar in quality, that I couldn’t get else where, more conveniently. The seasoning in the batter didn’t stand out enough to crave again, and just as well, as I wouldn’t travel the distance for it any how.

For its side we had some onion rings. They were crispy with a good amount of batter. Better than many other fast food restaurant’s attempts.

Sadly, I didn’t know that each combo comes with a biscuit, so I ordered one additional. They were buttery, you bit in and it flaked under the pressure. Cheesy and cakey, best enjoyed warm.

For our last combo we had their popcorn shrimp, because no other fast food chain offers such a thing on their menu. Sadly what I imagined, wasn’t the reality. The shrimp were tiny. So little meat that you get a 1:1 ratio of breading and shrimp, whereas you wanted more juiciness from a thick curl of shrimp. It was like eating bits of deep fried batter. No real taste on its own, luckily you get your choice of dips to accompany it. Tartar, buttermilk ranch, blackened ranch, Mardi Gras mustard, Sweet heat, barbecue, bayou BBQ, or cocktail sauce. I got the mustard and was surprised by how strong it was, enough had me feeling it’s zestiness in my nasal passages.

Here, we paired it with the most bland Mac and cheese I have ever had, based on its unappealing taste, I think they use American cheese that has no sharpness to it. The noodles were also cover-cooked, to the point that the elbow macaroni was swollen and too soft. The creaminess of it was nice, and at least it was helpful as a neutral base. A scoop with the spork to have in between bites of deep fry and salt.

 

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.
Glad to have tried the buzz, and glad we got enough of the menu to give it a fair assessment. So in conclusion I can confidently say “Popeyes” did not make it on to my list of favourite fast food joints, nor it is one I would go out of my way to visit again, even if they opened a location closer to me. Don’t deny your cravings.

POPEYES
110–2190 Hawkins Street, Port Coquitlam BC, V3B 0G6
778-941-3681
popeyeschicken.ca

Taco Del Mar, 5lbs burrito challenge

We made our own 5 pound burrito at Taco Del Mar!

Every year, for the last 10 years, the “Taco Del Mar” in Port Coquitlam celebrates Cinqo De Mayo in a very special way.

Every May 5th the date is observed, commemorating the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire, at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862. On this day many Mexican restaurants take this opportunity to showcase their culture through their cuisine. And at “Taco Del Mar”, Port Coquitlam (and only at this location) they host their annual “5-Pounder™ Burrito Eating Challenge”. 2018 will be the 10th year of this amateur eating competition.

They invite any and all challengers down, in an attempt to consume a 5 pound burrito in 30 minutes or less. In doing so, the behemoth is free, and you get your photo added to their wall of fame. A privilege only held for a select few. In the 10 years they have been hosting this challenge, only 6-8 individuals have risen to the occasion. This is our first year hearing about it, so this number may change. To date, the record for the fastest finishing time is 11minutes.

 

Each 5lbs burrito costs $30, it is made from the over lapping of 4 baked warm tortillas. The filling consists of 5 scoops of rice, 4 scoops of beans in either refried or black, 4 scoops of seasoned ground beef, 4 scoops of cheese in either shredded or queso, 4 scoops of salsa available in regular or mango, and 4 scoops of their sauce in either mild, medium, or spicy. All this is equivalent to four-and‐a‐half of their regular “Baja Burritos”.

If you wish to mix proteins or to have steak or chicken instead, you can pay $5 more to customize. Similarly you can choose to pay more for additional ingredients like guacamole, sour cream, cilantro, and lettuce.

Hot tip: ask to have your beans half black and half refried, do the same for the 2 types of cheeses and salsa. This gives your burrito a larger variety of textures and taste, thus increasing your chances of finishing. The photo above is the comparison between a regular burrito and the 5-Pounder.

To watch how we did, and to witness the creation of our very own customized 5lbs burrito, visit my YouTube channel: MaggiMei

 

You can also purchase the 5-Pounder without doing the challenge, or doing so with the intention to share, it will just cost you the $30 price. Once again this challenge is only available once a year so head down this Saturday, May 5th between 11am and 5pm to try it for yourself!

 

 

TACO DEL MAR(Port Coquitlam)
113-2020 Oxford Connector, Port Coquitlam BC, V3C 0A4
604-464-5388
https://www.facebook.com/pocotacodelmar
Taco Del Mar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Takano Noodle Cafe

I love a good bowl of ramen, so when a friend highly suggested this place for its authenticity, I was willing to drive all the way to the middle of Coquitlam, just to give this literal mom and pop shop a shot.

You never know when visiting smaller restaurants, so I called ahead to make a reservation on the day of. I was invited in and told not to worry over seating. They were located a slower area, surrounded by businesses with earlier closing hours. So by the time we pulled into the parking lot, they were only one of two food providers still opened, a little past 7pm. But inside they were almost seated to capacity, along their six tables and their lengthy bar top. We hopped on the latter and saw an exchange of customers in and out during our stay.

There isn’t much to the shop. Its mustard coloured walls were the backdrop to a bevy of Japanese knick knacks. Printed cloths flags over the doorway and squares of traditional Japanese style art depicting samurais and geishas on the walls. The wooden toys, painted plates, and folded origami done in the traditional Japanese styling furthered their authenticity in little pieces.

You smelled the delicious scent of their homemade soup walking in. “Mom” stood at the ready, behind her counter. She was the one to assist and serve, and the one that was there again when you were ready to have your bill rung through. “Pop” was the one in the kitchen, the one who took the orders that “Mom” shouted out. He stood steady behind the stove, you could see him tilting his wok and hear the scrapes of his tools across it. When a few of the multiple table orders came up, “mom” utilized a push cart to serve and bus tables. It barely fit in the aisle between our counter seats and the column of four top tables behind us.

The menu was a simple list of possible ramen broths and a few of their variations. Either miso, shio, shoyu, or a vegetable broth; with the same toppings in each. Bean sprouts, onion, carrot, bamboo shoots, corn, charsiu (BBQ pork) and green onion. There is also an option to have your ramen as part of a combo with gyozas, for extra. Or have your noodles with additional pieces of pork, cabbage and seafood instead, or teriyaki chicken, even with extra hot spices in the broth.

When we were seated, we joined three tables already in waiting. Luckily they got all of their food relatively quick soon after, and we just had to wait for our meal to be processed and prepared. All the customers in today spoke Japanese to the owners, it gave you the “Where the locals eat” vibe. This was further proven by the way “Mom” greeted regulars and remembered their orders. Including one lady’s dietary requirements and her desire for an unlisted tofu ramen.

My guest and I both opted for the make it a gyoza combo, with four freshly steamed dumplings. You could tell how fresh they were by how hot they were at their centre, and how they easily crumbled under the weight of your chopsticks. They were tasty enough, but I prefer a more starchy texture and a meatier chew from my gyozas.

My guest loves ramen, but is a lot less adventurous than I am. Therefore her bowl is not the most accurate account for their “Shio ramen”, which is prepared using a broth with a light salt base. She had it without the intended beansprouts, bamboo shoots, onion, and green onion. Although she kept the one piece of charsiu (BBQ pork) and the corn. She then compensated for the emptier bowl by exercising the option for extra toppings, for extra. She went for five pieces of wonton for $2.50 and ended up only eating one. Like the gyoza it had the same filling and left a lot to be desired texture wise. As for the ramen itself, she liked its thinner soup, lean meat, and fresh noodles. It felt like a healthier bowl, and for those missing the typical richness of ramen, you have the ability to ask to have butter added in.

I had all the toppings in my “charsiu ramen”, which is basically the “shoyu” ramen with its rich soy broth, but with more than one piece of pork. Instead this serving had four thicker cuts with a good amount of fat on each. They offered an additional flavour and texture along with the bean sprouts, onion, carrot, bamboo shoots, corn, and green onion that I did not miss out on. My meatier and richer broth was far more tastier than that of my guest’s.

I wouldn’t necessarily drive all the way back if I am craving a bowl or ramen, especially as I found their’s quite comparable to ramen at other places. However where they stood out was in their authenticity, their earnestness, and their ties to their immediate community. When all the orders were done, the chef came out to engage in his customers, speaking in their native tongue. And each diner got a personal hello, goodbye, and thank you combo from “Mom” on their way in and out. You felt lovingly welcomed in this place.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I would considering coming by more often if it wasn’t so far away from my home. Their bowls are a good price point, at $8.95 or $9.95 per. Whereas I have paid as much as $14 for servings elsewhere. And we walked in, were seated, and then served in under 10 minutes. The only thing they were missing was the option to add on a soft boiled egg to the mix. Don’t deny your cravings

 

TAKANO
3242 Westwood Street, Coquitlam BC, V3C 3L5
604-461-3798
takano.ca
Takano Japanese Noodle Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Orrange kitchen + bar

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I took quite the drive to get to Port Coquitlam, so I came in expecting great things from “Orrange”. My guest lives and works in the neighbourhood so vouched for her choice in lunching venue. It is located in a shopping complex of one of boutiques and services. The exterior was fairly muted, wood accents behind a clearly defined name and logo. The title was certainly catchy. I wonder what the extra “r” in “orrange” stood for?

Inside, the layout was familiar to that of a generic casual chain. Sharp angles to create separate and more intimate seating corners. A spacious dining room fronted by a distinctive bar. Numerous flat screens broadcasting the game of the day. And a scattered gathering of all sorts of people.

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Of note was the unique display of refrigerator doors. They were painted in retro pale greens and washed out yellows, with metal handles included. On them lived a splash of Polaroids, a collection of people in photos stuck on haphazardly. I thought this a clever feature, one worthy of immortalizing with photography.

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The hostess greeted me at the front, holding back the heavy double wood doors. With a smile she lead me to a seat, a sea of options given the date and time of my visit. Being a weekday and coming in post lunch rush, the room held party to only four couples and some solos by the bar. Enroute we passed by the bar, a stage set intimately darker. It was designed as a large circle, which allowed for more hightop at bar seating. The 360 degree surface area meant more to cover, and the challenge one bartender needed to meet with an easily rotatable neck. No shelves and no walls behind the bar saw that everything needed for cocktails, all the beers, and the wines on tap were tucked under the counter. A difficult to work in setting for staff, but a lovely to lounge in setting for clients. Above the scene hung three chandeliers, feathered in ovals. They added visual interest and a boutique feel. The chairs here and all high tops in the dining room were done as 50’s styled stools, with reclined backs and cupped bottoms. Upholstered in an avocado green they matched the colour scheme present in the refrigerator doors.

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The dining room opened up with ample space. The kitchen to the left and staged seating to the right. The right saw a step up on to a platform and a walk into a sectioned off space. This was the perfect area for accommodating larger parties. In the dining room the lowered ceilings painted in white and the restaurant’s wide windows allowed for a better lit section. The windows gave a look out at the yet to open patio. Chained up chairs and cemented tables unused, not ready in a still cold and still rainy season. We chose a table by it with an obscured view of the kitchen. A beaded curtain stencilled with their logo separated public space from an employees only area. The restaurant’s logo is of two crowned lions standing on hind legs. Both stood profiled with a fork, knife, and corkscrew in paw. I thought very regal for a bar, though befitting of any sports team; and therefore the perfect symbol for this fancy sports bar. To the side, hidden behind a row of closely spaced banisters worked two chefs in white. I could make out their figures and not their faces head down. For those wanting to appreciate these men in today there was an option on the menu for a $3 “beer for the chef”. I am sure the chefs didn’t actually accept beers when on the clock. And this was just a way to ensure all money tipped went straight to the ones who prepared the food that you enjoyed.

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Another unique option on the menu, and another that I didn’t entertain was the “Bubbles and dog”. 4 Chicago dogs and a bottle of champagne. At $135 you could be sure this was a real deal bottle of champagne. I don’t see this being commonly ordered, but maybe enjoyed rarely as a fun way to celebrate. Imagine coming here after a big game and announcing your victory with a soul satisfying meat and bun combo and a well deserved celebratory bottle of bubbly. What a delightful oxymoron of food.

The menu was a one pager pinned to a giant wooden clipboard. It came with a bonus short list of lunch specials. As their slogan promised there were “killer cocktails, kick ass eats, and nothing but love”. I easily spotted classic bar favourites and unique variations of dishes all their own. Poutine, nachos, fries, and burgers. “Roadside tacos”, mini dogs, and “Chinese take out”. I believe you need a balance of both for a successful menu. Safety in familiarity for those wanting the norm, and excitement in difference for those feeling more adventurous. I dine as the latter.

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Ceasar with pickled bean and spiced rim. Pretty run of the mill: spicy and overpowering in tomato taste to hide the sting of vodka. I failed to finish my beverage before the ice melted, which resulted in a heavily watered down cocktail.

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“Pineapple wok squid”. Our server pointed to this as being the most unique thing on the menu and therefore it beckoned my trying. There was a thick coating of batter over every segment of evenly chopped squid. With it I hardly got any of the expected seafood taste. And the smaller chunks almost had me missing the usual rubber like chew of squid. Any taste came from the sweet and savoury charred pineapple segments and the spicy yogurt dipping sauce. The flavours paired with spicy chilli, roasted garlic, and fresh cilantro was very reminiscent of Thai cuisine. Sweet and spicy over all, the cooling sauce brought together and balanced all the flavours.

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“The Leigh Brandt vegetable burger”. I am sure there is a story behind this one and its name, shame I failed to ask for it. A red patty made from red quinoa, kidney beans, and ancient grains. A burger filled with roasted veggies, pea shoots, pesto sauce, tomato slices, and mozzarella cheese.

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My guest is a vegetarian and has been one for over 18 years. She has lived with the struggle of finding a good vegetarian burger, and today declared this the best she has ever had. “A-game”. The extra effort and ingredients showed through when trying to create a deeper flavour profile. More layers is needed from vegetables to replicate the heartiness of an all beef patty. And the line up above between a herbed filled ciabatta bun certainly added the extra zing needed. I was most impressed with the patty. So light and crumbly it tasted and looked in house made. The liquid retained from each grain kernel meant it was never frozen and no piece had that hard chunk you had to avoid. This was a vibrant burger that didn’t rely on its sole sauce, but instead leveraged all its ingredients to create dimension and distinction. She paired this with a side of yam fries, chosen over soup, salad, or regular fries.

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I also took our server recommendation of the “Fried chicken sandwich”. She said this was the best and the vegetarian burger her second favourite. Though she was biased having never tried any of the two beef options. Immediately it looked disappointing compared to my guests’ entree. The burger itself was plain and it’s filling was sagging. Though a bite in had me changing my tune. The plain bun was to not overshadow the more flavourful elements that it was sandwiching. Bacon marmalade, jack cheese, and spicy mayo. This was an adult BLT, well balanced with an even filling to bun ratio. The use of a larger chicken fillet, shredded lettuce, and multiple thinly sliced tomato insured each bite until the edge saw meat, veggies, and sauce. I was most happy to get the taste of bacon coming through, it had its usual salty chew, but in addition to a zesty orange sweetness from its marmalade base. Although I did find things too creamy with excessive mayo. It made the lettuce soggy and overpowered the cheese completely.

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I chose the soup of the day as my side, “Asparagus”. It was lumpy with actual segments of asparagus stalk and unblended chunks. It was a bite of fresh asparagus layered with butter and cream. A pure, crisp, one note taste that was “absolutely asparagus”, to quote my guest. Simple and clean. If I could make one adjustment it would be to purée the soup smooth and used freshly toasted bread as croutons for a textural component. To me the soup felt grainy and I didn’t like the chew.

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.
The setting won me over with its causal luxury. Ample screens to watch any play by play from any angle, and cozy seats for extended stays. With free parking in the shared lot out front this is a great place to check out a game in or grab a drink with friends at. The staff were attentive and approachable. They helped one another and us regardless of which section patrons were seated in. Our server checked in often, much more than the one per plate visit that other establishments institute. We were given the billfold before it was requested, but were never nudged out. We sat in our given space and were allowed to linger, taking our time the whole way through. Even to the point of not being ready to order after three check ins. And yet no complaints from our server and no sneers from other staff. The food satisfied my need for familiarity with my want for different. Bar fare made grown up. Exciting twists and fun names kept me entertained. If it wasn’t for the distance I could see myself frequenting this spot as a solid go to for larger groups and an easy choice for picky eaters. Don’t deny your cravings.

ORRANGE
111-1125 Nicola Avenue, Port Coquitlam BC, V3B8B2
604-474-4424
orrange.com
Orrange Kitchen and Bar on Urbanspoon

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