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

Category: Renfrew-Collingwood Page 1 of 2

Ham and Eggman’s

Today I was having brunch with my foodie family. Our group of like-minded food lovers and food writers ascended on “Ham and Eggman’s” in East Vancouver. An area I am familiar with, having grown up in it. The breakfast restaurant turns 1 in March, but before it the space belonged to a sushi restaurant. The rock garden with still water and live greens by the entrance spoke to that history.

Given their location and offering they serve their community well for brunch. An elementary school is near by and two adjacent lots are being cited for high rises in years to come. That and the already heavy residential neighbourhood gives them lots of potential regulars to pull in. And with larger portion sizes and an more exciting menu than at other breakfast spots, they are well on their way. Not to mention they are unique to the area, where majority of the established restaurants are asian in cuisine, they stand out as the only breakfast spot and internationally driven with their egg focused menu. Two points of pride for the owner, whom we were able to chat up during our visit.

The space is pretty straight forward with painted black walls and white furnishing. Seating is across a series of tables that can be pushed together for larger parties at either ends of the restaurant. We nabbed the one closest to the window of the best lighting. It gets pretty dark the further in you go.

The menu is easy to navigate with familiar breakfast items and a healthy description of what each dish is so that there are no surprises. The following is what we ordered, exploring savoury and sweet options as well as everything that had an international flare to it.

The “Sweet oatmeal” was a surprising favourite of the table. You don’t often think of ordering oatmeal when it is something you can easily make at home. But their sweet rendition was a wonderful addition to our breakfast buffet. It offered a nice buffer in between the more salty plates. The oatmeal resembled small beads, a different texture than what I am use to. It had an interesting mouth feel, along with the harder crunch of chopped nuts and sweet dried fruit.

“Ham & Eggmans” do their best to make everything in house, but give the lack of kitchen space they are forced to out source their bread and waffle needs. As such, their waffles are procured from “Patisserie Lebeau”. So they were good, but not as fresh as I have had them. It could also be that we didn’t get to eating them right away due to our little photo session, so they were at room temperature when we did. But with enough Chantilly cream, fruit compote and, maple syrup it didn’t really make a difference. I did like the addition of the small portion of hash browns that came as a side on the plate. I don’t often order sweet breakfast dishes because I want to start with some savoury before moving on to sweet as a treat. So this way you get to do just that. Plus their hash browns are amazing.

The hash browns are another point of pride for the “Ham & Eggman’s” team. They have worked on them, getting them to the crispy delights that they are now. Plenty of flavour in a golden brown shell that stays crunchy throughout the entire meal. Our group unanimously enjoyed them.

We were able to snag the last “Chicken and waffles” order, to my delight. Whenever I see this on any menu, I have to have it. Who doesn’t like Buttermilk marinated, boneless fried chicken served with sweet Belgium waffles, Chantilly cream, bourbon maple syrup, and a fresh fruit salad for good measure. Here, the doughy waffles made the ideal base for the juicy dark meat chicken. The chicken’s saltiness playing off well against the sugar crystals in the waffle; with m the bourbon syrup bringing it all together. I would order this one again.

The “Pork belly hash” was also pretty memorable. Crispy pork belly, asian greens, cabbage, shiitake, and Kennebec hash browns tossed in a gochujang bbq sauce. Then make more breakfast-y with two poached eggs. Sweet and salty asian flavours make this hash one of a kind. You do get quite a bit of pork belly, which maybe hard to discern, given how similar they look to the potato chunks. But biting down there was no mistake. Mostly fatty they are better with the other ingredients as a base. I wouldn’t want to commit to the whole serving myself, but a nice side to share.

They have a few options for their “Scrambles”, each with three eggs served alongside their kennebec hash browns and toast. We went with the “Mexican” version prepared with house made chorizo, fajita peppers, onions, aged cheddar, and topped with salsa and sour cream. This didn’t read Mexican for me. Maybe with more beans, a punchier chorizo, and zestier seasoning it would have. I did like it for what it was, and would have liked it rolled up into a breakfast wrap, with more of that sour cream sauce for dipping into. But you did get two halves of toast in you choice of either multigrain or sourdough. We went with the latter.

Similarly, there were a few choices for “Eggs Benedict”, each served on a toasted English muffins with perfectly poached eggs, their house made hollandaise sauce and more tasty hash browns. Upon our server’s suggestion we went for the one with the mix of wild mushroom and green onion. A delicious plate with the creamy hollandaise smothering the tender mushrooms, made further decadent with luscious yolks we broke into. This is another one I would order again.

The “Lomo Saltado hash” had Peruvian style marinated steak, fajita peppers and onions, grape tomatoes, and fresh herbs; all topped with two poached eggs. Another dish I wanted to wrap in a carb. The heavier fajita flavours also had me craving a sour cream or something else to brighten it up, like an avocado mash maybe?

The “Shakshuka” is a Turkish style spiced tomato sauce served with poached eggs, feta cheese, and fresh herbs. It comes with two pieces of toast for dipping into. Which would have been nicer with a thicker stew to scoop up, instead of the watery tomato mash to sop up. It also lacked flavour compared to the other dishes above. Here I would have liked some beef to help make the dish heartier.

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.
Overall a really great option for breakfast in the community. And it is a treat to not have to drive all the way downtown for a modern breakfast platter. Fair prices for the portion sizes and the consistent quality. They definitely live up to their name with their perfect eggs. Don’t deny your cravings.

3883 Rupert St, Vancouver, BC V5R 2G7
(604) 620-8942

Ragazzi Pizza Co., #LasagnaChallengeYVR

My duties as one of Vancouver Fooster’s Best Lasagna judges has brought me down to “Ragazzi” in East Vancouver. I am actually familiar with the corner pizza shop, having my parent’s house located in the area. But it has been forever since I have laid eyes on “Ragazzi”, so it was so great to catch up and watch how they have flourish over the years, during this visit.

They serve a community with the likes of a public library, community centre, fire hall, and retirement centre; all surrounding it. Many of the visitors today were kids coming in after school or after their extra curriculars. Parents, groups of teen, and single folk looking for an easy dinner solution, with leftovers to serve as another meal.

It was a smaller space with order by the slice options by the window, to take to-go or quickly dine in. As well as a full menu with pizza and pasta that is baked to order. We grabbed a booth seat at the back and casually conversed as we waited for our meal. The flat screen televisions provided something to look at.

Seeing it, I was immediately impressed by the size of the serving of the vegetarian lasagna. I found my mouth watering up, looking at the even layers of tender noodle, gooey cheese, and melty spinach. It smelled and tasted exactly like what I envisioned when I anticipated lasagna for dinner. A classically done casserole that hits all the comfort bites with its salty and tangy notes, without the need for any ground meat. This is one you would crave again.

I was here to judge their lasagna, but couldn’t walk away not trying their pizza. This is their classic margarita with a thick, yet airy crust, and a sweet tomato sauce. It is seasoned a little on the mild side between the mozzarella cheese and basil leaves. However, you can easily reach for any of their table top condiments. A squeeze bottle of hot sauce or ranch dressing and/or a shaker of chilli flakes or Parmesan cheese to customize each slice to your preference.

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.
The whole neighbourhood can’t be wrong. A great spot to pick up a slice to snack on, but worth checking out for local hole in the wall charm. When you crave pizza and lasagna this is what hits that spot. Don’t deny your cravings.

2996 E 22nd Ave E, Vancouver, BC V5M 2Y4
(604) 433-2235

Pho 99 Broadway Tech Centre

My guest and I were looking for an easy lunch option by our homes. She recommended the newly open “Pho 99”, which turned out to be the nicest restaurant that I have ever visited for quick and inexpensive Vietnamese food.

The all glass exterior allowed in plenty of natural light, allowing you to clearly take in how new the place was. The walls were still a pristine white. All the bleach wood tables were still sharp, with pointed corners and a waxy finish that matched that of the chairs before them.

The menu was a book, coloured page after coloured page of Vietnamese soup, salads, and sandwiches. We got a few of our favourite dishes as a good gauge of their cooking.

This is their “Grilled chicken banh mi”, except we ordered it without cilantro and the meat pâté, to the preference of my guest. The sandwich was black pepper heavy. I would have liked it with more creamy mayo and for the vegetables to have more vinegar tang to them, the weren’t pickled or seasoned for that tell-a-tale flavour.

We added one “fried roll” to our order of the “Veggie marinated grilled lemon grass chicken”. My guest doesn’t like peanuts, green onions, and bean sprouts so we had this serving without all three. Sadly, I found it lacking without the additional toppings for their refreshing nature and crunch. The bowl tasted like a deconstructed salad roll or pho without the soup. The side of fish sauce did help to give it some flavour and life.

The “Combo roll” gave you a taste of three of their different appetizers. The salad roll with vermicelli, lettuce, and shrimp utilized the peanut based sauce for taste. Similarly, the peanut sauce gave the pork roll some depth of flavour. Although there was plenty of excess noodle and wrap, as we discarded the ends. The fried roll here was the same as above. It came out extra oily, and still hot from the fry throughout. The fish sauce was key here in balancing out the oil with some acid.


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.
Overall, everything was standard. The food was as expected and the service delivered. It is your typical chain. If you are looking for deep cultural experience you won’t get it here. But they are a great addition for the community with the neighbouring school, businesses, and corporate offices. Making them a great lunch or after work/school destination. Especially as thy are located so close the Renfrew skytrain station. Don’t deny your cravings.


PHO 99
2915 Hebb Avenue, Vancouver BC, V5M 3M4
Pho 99 Broadway Tech Centre Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

IcePik Shavery, new menu item

Starting on May 5th, up to the 7th; “IcePik Shavery”, your Joyce Street destination for shaved ice desserts, hits their second year anniversary. And to celebrate they are offering all their customers that come in, 30% off each and any of their snow ice flavours. And we were here as media, having a sneak peak, days before.

I have visited them a handful of times before, so the “IcePik” experience was not new to me. What was, was the launch of the new seasonal flavour: blueberry. As well as the ability to try a few of their more unique flavoured ices, that I have yet to. Flavours I normally wouldn’t go out of my way to order as a regular customer. And all the toppings I wouldn’t be able to try, because normally having each one would cost 60 cents per.

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.

But to rewind, and read the more detailed post of my first visit, please click on the link.

Icepik Shavery

And now fast forward to warmer weather with this seasonally fuelled blueberry flavoured snow ice. It tasted just like blueberry with the purply hue. I liked it best with fresh fruit and condense milk, but that’s the beauty of such a dessert, you can customize it anyway you like.

To watch ice being shaved and topped in this behind the scenes look, click on the video link to my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.


Others had, and I got to try their strawberry snow ice. It tasted delicate with sweet berry and hints of floral. Some ordered the black sesame, which I have had before and liked then and again now.

But it was the earl grey snow ice that would surprisingly be the favourite for me. The flavour wasn’t heavy, but lightly done and well crafted to represent the promised flavour. You could lighten it up with fruit and jellies, or make it a lot more decadent with cookie bits and chocolatey chunks.

I went for the mint flavoured snow ice myself, and greedily thought to get every topping on it; cause I figured when else would I get such an opportunity? So on top of toothpaste flavoured pale mint snow went skor bits, chocolate chips, graham cracker crumb, crushed Oreo cookies, corn flavours, three flavours of mochi, four flavours of popping pearls, coconut and mango jelly, grass jelly, fresh fruits, and a whole lot more. It was an interesting cup, like much of what I order and like, a dish more for novelty than taste. Had I been choosing for flavour and what would go well with all the toppings, my choice would have been either the vanilla or coconut flavoured snow ice.

And although not all the toppings pair all that well with all the flavours of snow ice, you can always use as much of the squeeze bottles of chocolate sauce, caramel drizzle, strawberry syrup, and condense milk available, to compensate for this. This was what I did in my case. With enough condense milk, you can sweeten the whole lot.


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 original assessment still holds true. A great option for a lighter, cold treat. And at 30% off, worth checking out between May 5-7, 2017.


1-3377 Kingsway, Vancouver BC, V5R 5K6
Icepik Shavery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Prince Seafood Restaurant


“The Prince” was the chosen destination for our family’s Chinese New Year day dinner. A restaurant that was in the neighbourhood I grew up in and a convenient stop for everyone invited.

Despite making our reservations 12 days ahead, we came in a couple of minutes late to discover management trying to give our table away. It was a busy night, understandably the stress was high and they overbooked trying to make as much as they could on the festive occasion. They felt justified in their decision as they tried calling us and was unable to reach anyone. The hostess had taken down our number wrong when placing the reservation, so when they tried to call us to come in earlier for our 6pm reservation, and couldn’t reach us, they saw this as reason enough to give the table away, assuming we wouldn’t show up. And when we were fighting to get our table back, instead of approaching the mix up apologetically, they blamed the error on us, that we had given the wrong number. When was the last time you gave out your number incorrectly, after reading it out twice, to the one taking in down?

What’s worst is they wanted to give our table to a family who decided to stroll in on one of the busiest Chinese dining out days, thinking they could get a table without the need to wait. And the restaurant’s manager was willing to reward this lack of planning. Sadly, for similar places, this is Chinese restaurant service in a nutshell. Here it is all about the dollar, sales and money is king. A point that was more so visible in the pricing compared to what we had below.

Sadly our time here did not get any better. The argument that began our service continued to sour the experience. Everyone was upset. We were high alert when it came the service, and it only got progressively worse.


The restaurant’s full menu was not available this event night. Due to the higher traffic and the need to feed more faster, they had only few set menus that you could choose from. Having dined here previously, my parents were aware that the prices of all their regular dishes have been increased by $2-5 for the occasion. Considering the extra traffic and the additional staff needed to service them, the math made sense. However, what doesn’t is the fact that dishes were listed promising certain ingredients, but instead what showed up were cost cutting substitutions. For example, our delicacy of black chicken soup was no more than old short rib soup, yet we were not only paying the premium price for the promised premium ingredients, but were doing so at the elevated Chinese New Year price.

It is worth noting that my mandarin skills are weak and all these facts were given to me as second hand information, as translated by my father, (who is very proficient in both mandarin and English). It is a similar case with the name and descriptions of the dishes we had below.

The restaurant is deceivingly large. A pull out wall creates the illusion of privacy with smaller rooms holding several different tables within. We were given a table in the rowdy main room. But besides the additional bodies, you really couldn’t tell that everyone here was celebrating an occasion. The restaurant wasn’t decorated. They were lacking much of the traditional red and gold accents typically used to usher in a new year of luck and prosperity. Disappointing. It is like having dinner at a fancy restaurant during December without tinsel and a tree.


When it came time to order my dad did it for the group, he choose one of the only 4 set menus available tonight. All 8 dishes that came with it was printed on a receipt and brought back to our table for the servers to cross off as they delivered them. This also gave us the opportunity to count off what we were still waiting for. Something that proved especially helpful, as we found we had to spot check the staff, to ensure everything we hand coming, actually came. A point we had to police a few times, when our server and the manger (you can always tell who they are by the full suits they wear) insisted dishes came when they didn’t. Instead of looking at our table at what dishes we did have, they immediately decided to argue that we were mistaken, and we thus had to argue are case. On both the occasions that this happened they were able to find our dishes, a point that was obvious given how they arrived at room temperature. No apology given, just our food cold. It was clear our meal was being rushed, they wanted us out to be able to seat and charge another family.

But sadly the culture at many such Chinese restaurants is to accept all the above as the norm, and to not defend your time and your money by bringing up any errors made. In this case, we ate our cold food in silence. Something that I thought silly considering how much more we had to pay just for being here on this day. But this is the ways, and who am I to attempt to start a movement?


Our meal began with a cold appetizer platter (intentionally cold). A starter that buys the kitchen some time. This version came with fresh but rubbery calms, shrimp, beef shank that tasted more like ham, slightly warmer chewy fish paste wrapped in bean curd skin, and spicy jellyfish trimmed in shorter strips. The garlic chilli chilled prawns were my favourite, but they required a little more work than I could give to get into it.


Next came the soup course. When the serving bowl arrived I read the receipt claiming it to be black chicken, but was corrected by the manager as being pork rib soup instead. Yet we were charged for the more expensive ingredients at the jacked up event price, without the actual conch or black chicken listed. This was just papaya and ribs in a clear broth. A sweeter soup, but nothing memorable.


The clay pot with mushroom and sea cucumber was not for me. It was a bowl of rubbery pieces, flavoured with the strong taste of wilted lettuce in a thickened corn starch gravy that I do not like. I tried the large caps of mushroom and they surprisingly easy to chew through. As for the sea cucumber, it was once a delicacy I enjoyed as a child, but now in my adult years, a texture I avoid. It is like a more gelatinized version of cartilage. Not bad, but knowing how the actual marine creature looks like and likening it to a slug, really puts me off of them.


Deep fried crispy whole chicken is a family favourite. However, this would be the worst rendition of it we have ever had. The chicken was dry and bland. The crackers that sat above it extremely oily, and instead of its expected light and crispy texture, biting into it was more like chewing through styrofoam. A fact we would have brought to the attention of the staff, had we thought it would make a difference. They did after all hear us complain as we bit in to a few, having to pull with clenched teeth.


The preserved meat with cauliflower dish seemed like a cheap and easy filler. It was certainly the most modest, and the most lack lustre dish, given the special occasion. This is the type of dish you make at home when there is nothing else in your fridge to work with. It was more cauliflower than salty and fatty chunks of pork. But notable, as it was my first time trying Taiwanese wild cauliflower. It has the stem of broccoli with the florets of cauliflower, more green than white.


For live seafood dishes, the freshness of your catch is proven by first bringing you your fish, crab, or lobster table side for you to inspect. This isn’t something my parents particularly enjoy, so we don’t put much stock into it. However both our fish and lobster were sharing a tub, turned upside, unmoving. At least they were fresh out of the tank. Though I almost feel better believing they were brought to us table side, already having died in the tank.


The tilapia steamed in a soy sauce is trimmed table side. The spine is removed and the inside sauced by the server who delivers it. It is a gentle fish with a light seasoning. A typical staple at these set Chinese dinners.


The lobster dish was the most impressive and instantly my favourite of the night (not that it had much competition. It was one dish I didn’t have any issue with, except for the price. Chinese New Year prices had us paying $29 per pound, and this was a 2-3lbs lobster.

It is served whole in a giant steamer, lined with lotus leaves, overtop some sticky rice. It was tasty buttery lobster and sweet corn rice. Luckily the lobster meat was relatively easy to remove flesh from shell, as we were only given our picks and cracking apparatuses after finishing half of the serving. We quickly gave up trying to call a staff member over, knowing they were avoiding eye contact.


My second favourite dish was the braised eggplant with jumbo prawn, seasoned in a mild black bean flavour. The prawns were an impressive size, but a tad over cooked. This was a dish that would have been tastier had they served it to us right away, instead of insisting that we had it and quickly bringing us this cooled off portion almost immediately after.


For dessert there were the usual bowls of red bean soup. Not a favourite of mine given its grainy texture.


Luckily as a little extra perk for being here during Chinese New Year, we were given additional sweet snacks for dessert. Sesame seed cookie balls and coconut covered glutinous rice cake filled with custard. I preferred the latter with its soft and chewy texture, than the hard and dry texture of the former.

When we finally wanted to leave, it was hard to track anyone down. First for take out containers and after to pay for the bill. We had what remained of our fish dish taken in the back to be doggy bagged. This was with three dishes left to go. However our fish never returned. It wasn’t until we asked that they thought to track it down and bring it to us.

All this grief, all this heartache, the sourness of a would and should be festive occasion turned horrible experience. And worst still my father insisted on giving a full and good tip. I understand the need of servers to supplement their wages with tips, and that our society deems it an expectation. But I believe they should at least try to do a good job to earn some of it. There were no pleasantries exchanged, no care given tonight from servers and the manger’s alike. Our plates weren’t even bussed between dishes, so that by the end we were eating dessert on top of chicken and fish bones, and lobster and shrimp shells. My parents didn’t want to make a fuss, but if we don’t bring any of this to the restaurant’s attention, or fight for our right to the quality of food and experience that we pay for, nothing will ever change. And I will have to continue writing bitters blog posts like these.


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.
This was not a good way to ring in the new year. I can make excuses for the restaurant and allow them to hide behind the fact that it was a busy service. But I don’t think it excuses the lack of quality in the food that we had, and the lack of care displayed towards us by the management. This was an all around bad dinner, made worse by the price we had no choice but to pay for it at. This experience was so scarring that my partners started a pack with our extended family then and there. Starting next year, we will not be visiting a Chinese restaurant for Chinese New Year, we will dine at a western one and avoid another bad and expensive meal. Looking back “White Spot” would have yielded better results. Don’t deny your cravings.


2881 Grandview Highway, Vancouver BC, V5M 2E1
Prince Seafood Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Happy Day Cafe


A friend posted a photo of a Chinese pineapple bun turn into burger on his Facebook. I have yet to see one offered anywhere in Vancouver, and having remembered one such burger fondly during my last trip to Toronto, I wanted to taste it again in the city that I live in.

So we travelled to “Happy Day Cafe” to get my fix. Our destination was its newest location on Kingsway, its original operates out of Richmond. You could tell that its grand opening was pretty recent, given the number of congratulatory floral standees by the foyer, a colourful Chinese tradition.


Besides them there wasn’t too much in terms of decorations. Not that anything was needed, I appreciated how spacious everything was, with a fair bit of distance between seats. The fabric on the faux leather booths were still taunt and the table tops were still untarnished. The red brick walls provided an interesting contrast to the metal light fixtures dangling from coloured, inset circles on the ceiling. A make shift wall split the restaurant in two, creating a counter for lone diners and some additional privacy for larger parties to gather by the kitchen. This separation also created shelf space, allowing the owners used to showcase their designer cola bottle collection. Coca Cola in a variety of patterns and colours, in various bottle shapes and sizes; some more special than others, kept behind glass.

We were able to grab the last seat before the dining area swelled up with full tables and additional lingering bodies by the door. They could have easily sat the large group table family style, in order to get two party patrons in and out, but no one considered the option. Instead all the staff were buzzing around the room delivering food and taking orders at break neck speed. It was about efficiency and not so much service. However, the manager stood out from the others and the trend. I assumed he was the manager given his lack of uniform and his choice to wear jeans and a striped sweater instead. He made our evening memorable.


The pineapple bun wasn’t on the menu, but luckily the manager was able to accommodate my request for it during this dinner service. He brought us the lunch menu that it was normally listed on. And with it we were able to select our desired filling out of seven options. Including satay beef, luncheon meat, and pork chop. The one I had in Toronto didn’t give me options, but it tasted much better with its all beef burger patty. The savoury beef and the saltiness of its condiments played off the sweetness of the bun’s fall apart, baked custard topping. Where as here, with our choice of the “chicken fillet with lettuce” it didn’t flow as well. The chicken was marinaded with a sweeter sauce and together with the bun it was too sweet for a burger. The wilted shredded lettuce coated in a its sticky glaze didn’t help either. A regular beef patty with the pineapple bun would have been ideal, or even the one with spam egg and butter.

Similarly the manger was able to take our request for substitutions with a few of our dishes. Although only to the extent of the chef’s ability. For instance the chef wasn’t able to grant us a smaller portion of their “Shred snake soup”. We wanted it because it was confirmed as being prepared with real snake, and neither of us had ever had the reptile. But it was not meant to be, as we deemed $22.80 for a serving for four, too much to pay for something we only wanted to try. And they weren’t able to simply serve us a smaller bowl. Heck I would have paid $5 for a scoop, just to say that I have.


Just as well, because our dinner began with a complimentary serving of “winter melon soup”. A large soup bowl with ladle that we could use to dispense the murky portions ourselves. There was enough broth for four. It was a soothing soup, something to warm your stomach up for the meal ahead. I just wished it came with more than two chunks of melon and was served much earlier on. It came with our entrees following shortly, and in comparison to them, we found the soup bland.

Had a regular server approached us first, I don’t think we would have even gotten the option of trying the burger above or even a trip to the kitchen to inquire about the soup. They would have simply stated that it was not on the menu and therefore not available at this time, and that no substitutions are to be had. They would made no attempt to compromise with me, their customer. Case in point, is the fried milk dish below.


The “crispy milk with diced beef tenderloin in honey sauce” was recommend to us when we asked. The manager described it as solid block of milk, best when dipped into sugar. By that description I was sold. Apparently it is made by freezing milk custard and then flash frying it. The result is a crispy golden brown shell hiding a semi jelly-like texture. It is a nugget that grown on you. With the sugar dip, it reminded us of mini doughnuts. I would have liked them as a dessert option, served with sugar, maple syrup, or even a chocolate sauce. But instead it was offered here as a side to protein. I felt it a questionable pairing with the savoury beef, but better than a bite with the coloured peppers (also on the plate). The chunks of beef were tender and tasty, and the milk served as a bread to accompany it. But the former would have been best with a bowl of steamed rice, which we ordered to have with the beef as leftovers the next day. I also didn’t like how much oil there was at the bottom of the plate.


But we almost didn’t get it to try the deep fried milk with sugar. The server who delivered our plate couldn’t comprehend our request for it. And when I explained the interaction with her manager above, I only confused her more. She couldn’t make the decision, and had to seek him out for approval, which he gave her.


And lastly the manager took our request of trade rice for spaghetti noodles in the “baked pork chop and seafood” dish. This was two sauces over carbs. You can have either flavours separate, or mixed together for something new. As is the case when it is the Chinese interpretation of spaghetti, it was on the sweeter side. My guest of Italian heritage found it odd. For me, this was some of the most comforting food. The pork chop was tasty and cooked to the perfect chew, without being overly dry. Its crispy breading was a nice accident to the starchy noodles. The muscles and squid offered different textures as well as a change in flavour on the white cream sauce side.


I don’t know if it was because of all that we ordered, or if it was what we ordered, but we also got a complimentary dessert to end our meal on. It would have been nice to advertise the free soup start and free dessert end somewhere on the menu. To tempt customers into ordering more to reach the needed criteria and not miss out on this opportunity. Although at the same time, it was a nice welcomed surprise for us. “Custard sago with tapioca” pearls. The regular version that is white with condense milk is one of my favourite Chinese desserts, so to get here and now, with a twist was very exciting for me. It was nice creamy end to change the taste in your mouth and finish with something slightly on the sweeter side.

The greatest feedback I could give, is the need for management to better train their personnel. Not just on how to take and place orders, but more on how to deliver service as he has done, for us, during our stay. To empower his staff to make decisions and accept substitutions to satisfy the customer’s need. Especially in cases of easy requests, such as ours. This would ensure that all future services would go as smoothly as ours did. I mean he even checked on us and asked us how the food was, as rarity at many traditional Chinese restaurants. I just hope it wasn’t only because of my guest’s Italian heritage.

Whereas we never got greeted or had eye contact from any of the other staff. And worst still was when we asked for the bill. Our tab was brought to us all on one receipt, and we kindly ask them to split it between us two. The server who heeded our request, did so by immediately stooped herself between us, over our table. She proceeded to do the math on the actual receipt, putting us in an awkward situation where we gave each other “WTF” eyes. And it was this last impression that sadly soured all the great moments before it. We had been spoiled by the manager thus far. For him to built up our experience, to only to have her actions be what we focused on after we left.

And in hindsight, her awkward math was all moot. They don’t accept debit or credit, and seeing as my guest had the cash, he ended up paying for us both. No where was there a mention of them being a cash only establishment. Considering the area, and the fact that they have several locations now, I was surprised by this and them not considering the guest’s experience and need for convenience when setting up their operations. Although I know this is so that they don’t have to pay credit and debit usage fees, or to pay for the equipment and maintenance to continue offering such a service.


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.
As one of the first Chinese restaurant I have been to that allows customization with no major complaints, and a manager who considered the customer experience, I will definitely be back. The setting was comfortable and they saw all walks of people, thanks to a hefty menu that has plenty to keep you returning for more. Chinese seafood restaurant favourites at decent prices and in a setting that won’t intimidate, especially if you don’t speak or read the language, like us. Don’t deny your cravings.


3312 Kingsway, Vancouver BC
Happy Day Cafe 喜相逢餐廳 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Jambo Grill


I am always looking for an opportunity to expand my culinary horizons, so today one of my more adventurous guests and myself found ourselves out for African cuisine.

The restaurant is easy to spot from the street with its bold yellow sign, its many food-o-graphy wallpapering the glass window out front, and with the mural of a tiger setting the tone to come.


Inside the space was huge. There was plenty of room to host the large gatherings and office parties that they advertised. They even made mention on this year’s Christmas party on their website. But on a regular day, I wondered how busy they got and if they utilized all this space. The same orangey red pallet that decorated the exterior, was also used on their internal wall’s murals. To your left the sun was setting against the savannah’s diverse animal landscape. And on your right, the same sun too bathe a dessert landscape in red and oranges. Complimentary artifacts added visual contrast to the pieces: carved masks of giraffes, clay sculpted elephant busts, carved statues, and etched metal work. Both murals ran down the length of the restaurant, a visual representation of the merging of their specialized cuisine: African and Indian. The music did a similar thing with a playlist that went from bhangra beats to mellow Marley.

We were the only ones seated a good hour when they first open. We had our choice of placement and went with a table against the booth wall. One of many brown tables and brown upholstered chairs. They must be expecting a full crowd later, as each one of these tabled was pre-set with a napkin bundling cutlery and another napkin curled up in an empty drinking glass.

The menu was fairly inviting from a graphic design stand point, it too matched the restaurant’s colour scheme and theme. It was divided by “out of Africa” and “out of India”. The former was then further divided by “from the jungle”, “from the lake”, and “from the farm”. And like everything else, the staff too played part of their authenticity. Each member of their team was dressed in traditional African garments, with plenty of bold patterns.


I appreciated the functionality of the artist-palette-like plates we were given to eat off of. Indents on the porcelain finish allowed a trough for general food items, and three circles made the ideal holding for more watery mixes. It was perfect for all our ordered dishes below.


The first thing you notice walking in is the smell of spicy food. The further in you went, the more the scent developed into a full bodied curry. It was delicious enough to have us ordering a serving for ourselves.

The curry is available in beef, chicken, lamb, and goat. We had the goat as it was promised to be “packed with flavour in a thick aromatic sauce”. Plus not often are you offered goat meat. It came with your choice of naan or rice. We went with the former as it was the more complicated of the two, something you don’t have as often or could make yourself. Though we were caught off guard when we were given options for our naan. This was a first. Naan with butter, without butter, and/or with herbs. We asked for our server’s recommendation. She strongly suggested the buttered naan otherwise it “would get hard”. With a reason like that, why would there be any choice but the butter version? Who would want a hard naan? If you are gonna commit to the bread, you might as well enjoy it to the fullest: moist and fluffy.


And with our buttery choice, it was. The naan made a great “chip” to dip into the curry with. Though I would have liked the curry a little thicker, and therefore more hardier. Not to surprising, the goat meat was a little dry, the waterier curry made that point more clearer in contrast. Though it tasted good, a back of your throat spicy burn in both meat and sauce.


The “Tandoor kebabs” were available in lamb, chicken, or beef. We went with the beef and it ended up tasting like over cooked hamburger. I didn’t imagine that the ground up meat mixed with herbs and spices would be prepared like hot dogs. It was impressive how symmetrical they were to one another; especially considering that they are described as being “hand crafted on a skewer”, before being deep in their tandoor oven. Each kebab order comes with with two sides. You choose from masala potato, fries, pili pili corn, or salad. We went with the masala potatoes and the fries. The potatoes had a nice starchy whipped texture to them, like a well boiled squashed.

We ungraded and paid more for the mogo as our side, instead of just regular fries. “Mogo” is the root plant, cassava chopped into strips and deep fried. It had a grittier chew than potato, and therefore a less appealing texture. Chewy and mashed, I would have liked it crisper from a longer hot oil bath.

Though the mogo may have been better with the ambli, the sauce that the appetizer is intended to be served with. “Ambil” is a sweet tamarind chutney. Instead we got a spicy green hot sauce. Each element was spicy enough on its own, and it didn’t really need more heat. What this platter needed was a sauce to give things a contrast and to help cool. A cooling chutney like ambli, or a smooth cream with a mayonnaise-like consistency. Something with a refreshing herb would have also been nice.


“Mandazi bharazi” is a serving of four African donuts, served with pigeon peas cooked in a thick coconut sauce. Everything about this sounded interesting. I didn’t know that there was an African equivalent of doughnuts. Or that there are doughnuts you dip into stew with. And what were pigeon peas? Why were they called that? By ordering them to try, I had most of my questions answered. This was more aptly a fried bread that was slightly sweetened. The dip was like a sweet curry sauce. A little chalky from the peas, with texture and chunks like cream corn. Even despite my description, this was our favourite of the night. It was also the only savoury thing not spicy.


The photo of the “Faluda” on the menu reminded me of southeast Asian shaved ice dessert, so I wanted to see if it was anything like that. It wasn’t. I at least thought it would be sweet given the neon red strawberry looking syrup pooling at the bottom and its description. It wasn’t. It is described as a rose sherbet “romanced” with vermicelli and basil seeds, then topped with ice cream.

Our server offered to split the dessert in to two different glasses for my guest and I to share. I was hesitant as I wanted to full order as it was intended, keeping my photo in mind. But we took her offer after she insisted that both would look the same, but as miniatures. They didn’t. And if you have read my work, you know I order for novelty and the promise of an aesthetically pleasing dish or drink. This didn’t deliver. The photo promised layers of colour, ours was just a translucent red and an opaque white cream. And vermicelli was two strands buoyant on top. Though maybe it’s because the portion was split, unlike how it was intended. Either way, it was just as well, as we both took a sip and called it quits. You scoop things with shovel bottomed slurpee straw. This was less a dessert and more a breath mint. It wasn’t sweet, but more fragrant, even with the ice cream. It was so strong, like drinking perfume with potpourri sprinkles.


We also couldn’t get past the initial taste of the “Good morning paan”. This was another “dessert”, better classified as a dinner ender. But I wanted to try it because it was such a popular menu item that it made its way to their sub title, and therefore must surely worth a try. “Jambo Grill, tandoori and paan house”.

Our server gave us the option of having it fresh or frozen. When she said that fresh ones were better and that the frozen are cold, as they are made earlier in the day, and that they are not any better; it became another one of those “why give me a choice then?” situations. Why would I choose to have it the subpar way when I can have it the best as intended?


“Paan” is a betal leaf saturated in rose syrup, and packed with sweets and spices like fennel seeds, daal, and coconut. There was also the possibility to have it with or without sweet supari, a betel nut. So we had one of each at $2.50 each

They are made assembly line style. Leaf, pre mixed spread, and shredded coconut. It is folded and presented to you wrapped in tin foil. The Rose syrup seeps out and your hands get plenty sticky. And once again, like the parfait above we didn’t last past the first bite. I wasn’t even sure if I should swallow. Like the “Faluda” you don’t expect the flavour, and could never expect it. The raw, unprocessed leaf was an odd texture to chew through. And the filling tasted like a less floral, but just as pungent perfume and potpourri combo. This was an edible mouthwash, potent enough to cleanse your mouth from all the spice and your breath from all the food.


Looking back I am sure we ate this meal wrong. I wished we asked for more suggestions and that our server was able to guide us on this journey better. Maybe checking to see if it was your first time, and if so, having a first timers introduction combo available to ease you in. I have never had anything like most of this today. I didn’t have any expectations, nor did I possess any comparison points. Though as a whole I wished we had something that was more fresh and crispier with our entrees. Some green beans and/or a fried fish. Both would have been a welcomed contrast to the thick sauces, chewy breads, and hot spices. There was too much flavour, and a lot of it was overwhelming in how similar they were to one another. I also wished that we both ordered a glass of “lassi” (a yogurt based drink mixed with water and spices). A glass would have been more of a dessert, as well as a helpful way to cool our heated tongues. They are available in mango, mint, or just salty and sweet.


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.
I would like to try this again more informed. There was so much on the menu to try and I don’t think I can make a fair assessment with what we had. Don’t deny your cravings.


3219 Kingsway, Vancouver BC, V5R 5K3
Jambo Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Icepik Shavery


This is another one of those dessert spots that was so busy to visit when it first opened. So I have waited until now to try their flavoured ice. Desserts are best when you can enjoy and take your time with them. When you can sit down and take in nibbles, lapping cream off a spoon. Not when you are being wrangled like cattle in small confines, and rushed through your experience, cause someone wants the table after you.

Shaved ice and snow desserts have been all the rage lately. They are basically the Asian equivalent of a sno one with fruit and candy toppings, instead of just sweetened syrup pumped over. You get the chill of ice cream, without all its calories, and its a sweet way to stay hydrated during summer; after all, when it melts it is pretty much like water. Though what sets “Ice Pik” apart from all the others is that they aren’t just grinding up blocks of ice for its snow-like texture. Here they freeze flavoured liquid into creamy blocks, and then it is these blocks that are shaved into ribbons of ice. That is why they refer to their deserts as “snow cream”. So it is not just the toppings flavouring your dessert, the ice has a flavour all its own, as well.


They don’t have your traditional flavours like chocolate or caramel, but more tropical ones like coconut, mango, and lychee. And more popular Asian flavours like taro, black sesame, earl grey, and green tea. They even had the unique choice of mint. After you decide on your base, you choose what you want to top it. It’s 60 cents for each, with topping categories divided into fruit, pearls (the kind most common in bubble tea), mochi, jelly, and everything else falling under “other”. With all the possible combinations there is plenty to please everyone, and much to keep you interested in returning. They offered fresh papaya, yogurt flavoured popping pearls, rice cakes, almond jelly, corn flakes cereal, and cheesecake bits; just to name a handful out of 25 different options.


The ice is sheered using blocks taken from their cooler, and inserted into a specialized machine. The employee managing it equips themselves with gloves, and pushes the machine’s handle with one hand, while gripping the cup the ice goes into with the other. The snow that results gets packed in tight and forms a miniature mountain within a cup.

You have a size choice between regular or large, with the main difference being the latter is branded in their blue, with their mascot on it. Their mascot is a penguin wearing a blue scarf around its neck. His image also graced the window out front, as an eye catching decal. This logo on the cup was worth me wanting a regular, despite being hungry enough to desire the large. They should brand the large cup too, how many missed opportunities have they had to upgrade a customer who wants the visual with more food.

Next, the clerk directs the ice cup to fridge and tops it accordingly, as you have requested. It is then finishes it off with either a chocolate or strawberry wafer.


You now have a choose your own adventure at their “sauce bar”. Four squeeze bottles of chocolate, strawberry, caramel, or condense milk to drizzle over your dessert. Here, you also get to choose your own spoons. They were thick plastic in six different colours. I of course insisted that they match our cups. As my guest put it, these are the kind of spoons you “take home and wash”.


My first taste was with a more conservative diner, and in order to accommodate her more passive palette, we went for the safe mango ice with strawberries. I insisted on the condense milk drizzle, and lots of it for flavour. Good thing too as the strawberry chunks were tart. We were also lucky that we could go back for as much more of the condense milk as we wanted. At this point strawberries are only becoming in season, hence why the strawberry ice was listed as “coming soon”. The mango ice was sweeter, but not enough to mask the sour of the fruit, and it was also much more milder in flavour, despite its bold hue.

If you can’t decide what ice base to get and what would be complimentary to top it, choose from one of their five different combos.

I was tempted by the taro, mint, and black sesame flavoured ice with its unique toppings. Tempted enough to ask a stranger to take a photo of their’s. Well, actually she is a coworker and her friend who bought it for them to share, was the stranger. Nonetheless, I won’t forget the moment, as this was the first time I literally asked to take a photo of someone else’s food. I get asked if I do a lot, and now I finally have a reason to answer “yes”.


They went with the “Emperor’s Pik”. Green tea snow cream with papaya chunks, grass jelly, mango jelly, and strawberry wafer. For those who have never had it, “grass jelly” is a brown jello like substance that doesn’t have too strong of a taste on its own, and therefore is commonly found in drinks and desserts, as a textural component. It is made by boiling the aged and slightly oxidized stalks and leaves of a specific plant, and mixing it with potassium carbonate and starch. It has a unique taste that is hard to describe. I personally enjoy it and have found nothing else like it.

So when I was in the neighbourhood again, and given the opportunity, I came back for more of the more exciting flavours, that I missed out on last time.


This day, I went with the “Penguin Pik” combo. Black sesame snow cream with grass jelly, Oreo crumble, tapioca pearls, and a chocolate wafer. I choose it for the novelty of having all the dark colours in my cup. You could clearly make out the black sesame flavour, but not so much that you couldn’t enjoy the assembly of toppings with it. The Oreo added crispimess, and surprisingly went well with black sesame. The pearls and jelly were more neutral, so offered different textures, instead of a way to change the taste.


My guest of today, picked and choose his treat from the list. The taro snow cream with red bean and skor bits. Although mid shave they ran out of taro ice to complete the order, so we were given the option to fill the cup with another flavour. I recommend the coconut to his, as a compliment. I liked it’s refreshing milky-ness, where my guest found it too distracting. But he claimed his original combo with taro was one that worked, despite the fact I could not imagine toffee skor candy pieces ever being with taro or red bean any way else. But I guess that is why the choose your own ice menu exists, for everyone to find their perfect combo.


The cafe is a small space, with seats around the walls and a dance floor worth of space at the centre. Plenty of room to wait in queue, if need be. To match their theme the walls are painted in a baby blue, with one wall stencilled with white snow flakes. The opposing wall is left blank, other than the poster sized adverts publicizing a few of their dessert options.


Without air conditioning, it especially hot and sticky indoors, luckily you have the option to sit outdoors. Two plastic chairs in front of their window for the first to claim it.

I have visited twice now and there only seems to be just one employee working the evening shift, not that any more was needed. During my first visit, on a weekday, after a 8pm it was so slow that there was no one waiting at the counter to serve. The one employee was working in the back, giving you the option to ding the bell at the desk for assistance. The second time around, it also wasn’t busy, and the crowd that was in was chill enough to not mind a pause. But as such the clerk can only do one order at a time, so you need wait for them to ring you through and take your money, before starting to make your dessert. And this is how they operated one guest after another. And those who cannot wait, won’t if they haven’t given their money first. So as a business, it is better to ring everyone through and have them wait, instead of gambling on the fact that they are willing to remain in queue, and not walk away due to their impatience-ness. For us, we made it all the way here and paid for parking, so weren’t going anywhere. Although there are a few decent bubble tea places nearby, that we could have turned our attention to.

And sadly, during both visits I was never once offered their loyalty punch card, and at this point I had three ices that I could have put towards a free cup. This card could have also brought me back for my fourth and fifth. A missed perk for me and a missed opportunity for sales for them.


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.
A really stand up, delightful treat. No complaints.


1-3377 Kingsway, Vancouver BC, V5R 5K6
Icepik Shavery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Off The Grid Waffles


This is one of those places I initially avoided, waiting until the buzz died down, to avoid excessive lines and crowded confines. That, and its mid day hours were hard to coordinate a visit to. But finally I was here at “Off the grid waffles” to try their popular milkshakes with in house made waffle garnish.

Heading to it, you might miss your destination the first time around. They are called “off the grid” for a reason. Located on a quiet block on Kingsway, with no real other restaurants or dessert places in its close proximity. If you made an effort to come out of the way here, you were staying, line or not. But we came early to beat the rush, being the only other table seated mid day, and having our pick of the place.

The restaurant’s awning is planked wood with its name and logo in white. A scalloped circle with neat rows of small crosses at its centre. This was their nouveau way of illustrating that they were waffle joint.


Stepping in, there was a change in temperature. They had no air conditioning, and the pressing of fresh waffles only made the air inside stickier. They did have two fan blowing at either ends of of the seating area. Their locations help in our seat choosing process. But as a result of the additional heat, everyone ordered a milkshake, and the restaurant boomed with a full crowd by 7pm. A few tables also came with jenga blocks, already stacked up. It gave you the impression that they wanted a lingering crowd.

The restaurant was a clean space. Wood floors and a white check out counter labelled “waffles!” The counter tops had the same wood finishing that the exterior’s awning did. This is where each waffle was pressed and topped as desired.


Everything was made to order before your eyes. After the clerk takes your order, one of the two other staff members set about preparing it. They do this in the open Cafe, with only the height of the counter giving the process some illusion. But while paying you get a great view of their row of waffle presses and all the containers of ingredients necessary to craft their signature milkshakes.

They don’t just do sweets. They also had pizza waffles available. Any waffle topped with savoury ingredients fell under this category. There was one with grilled chicken breast and another with smoked meat. The classic pepperoni, cheese, and Hawaiian pizza flavours were also represented.


We went for the “Spicy chicken with bacon pizza waffle”. This was a well done rendition of pizza, and a play on the popular pairing of chicken and waffles, but with bacon bits. A whole waffle worth of pizza was served in a black pan with handles, and topped with a flag of their logo. The fluffy waffle was layered with plenty of chicken, together it had both a great kick from the spicy mayo and a little bit of sweetness from the waffle.

They also had desserts built around and topping their liege style waffles as well. They had a tiramisu waffle, one with chocolate and peppermint, and a cheesecake waffle. And like the pizza ones, they had the classic dessert toppings like banana and Nutella, s’mores, and apple cinnamon. You can also have your waffle plain, or add a scoop of ice cream for extra. But we chose to drink our desserts.

To drink, they offered much of what other cafes did. Coffees, teas, and milk mixes of both. But chances are you were here for their most popular menu option: the milkshake. There were six different flavours available. Each was filled to the brim of a mason jar, topped with whipped cream, drizzled in syrups and sauces, and finished off with their trademark waffle wedge. The assortment and any extras depended on which flavour your ordered. Each version was served on a glass plate, as it was a messy affair of dripping cream, sticky syrup, and powered sugar. The beverages also came with a cookie straw to eat and drink from, and a plastic one in case you finished that one before your drink was done. I appreciated the pageantry of this the most.


Though choosing which one you wanted was tough. I did so by basing it on what I found the most unique, as is often how I order when bombarded with so much I want to taste and try. I went for the “Maple Bacon” OFG shake. It ended up being more vanilla than maple, though the candied bacon came through in chewy bits. It was sweet and refreshingly creamy.


My guest went for a more tried and true flavour, the most popular, “Oreo”. Not only did it come with a mound of whipped cream and a thick waffle wedge, like mine did above, but she also got the add on of a whole Oreo cookie. The extras gave the drink texture and made the eating of it more fun, with breaks in tastes and the mixing of complimentary flavours.

Although, as good as these milkshakes were, they are fairly easy to make. All one needs is a blender and the ability to push its buttons. In fact I often make my own milkshakes and decorated them more elaborate as these. And knowing what goes into each one, I would say I like mine just a bit more. However the waffle final touch is something I can’t do at home, and something I do praise them for here.


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.
They offer solid waffles in savoury or sweet varieties, but their milkshakes are what’s worth coming back for. Their shakes are a nice treat for when you don’t want the extra work of chewing your desserts. Come early to avoid the crowd, because you don’t get the same experience if you decide to take your milkshake on the road. Don’t deny your cravings.


2665 Kingsway, Vancouver BC, V5R 5H4
Off The Grid Waffles Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hyoga Japanese Cuisine


My food travels brought me to Kingsway for sushi. Recommend by my guests as an authentic Japanese restaurant. They were proud to advertise that they were Japanese owned and operated with a hand written sign, visible right on the door as you entered.

By looks alone, this wouldn’t be a typical restaurant I would choose at random, or would it even stop me as I walked by. It didn’t have some of the bell and whistles other Japanese and sushi restaurants in Vancouver did. There was nothing visually to set them apart. What they did have was a sign painted red and scraped for a distressed look. A traditional Japanese post that marked its location and lit the way at night. And a wooden sandwich board enticing you with colour photos of their specials and a full written description.


Walking in, the place was equally simple in design. One wall was painted beige and sanded for a spiral textured pattern. The opposite wall was dark brown and streaked and matted with beige and rust orange paint. The same colour as the opposite wall and store’s sign out front.

There weren’t many tables seated: 4 for their 8. However the restaurant felt promising with tables occupied by Japanese speaking diners and a revolving door of all ethnicities picking up take out orders. It was just a shame that the dance pop music playing quietly in the kitchen broke the illusion of authenticity.


The menu was a simple bounded listing. The first page tempted with a beautifully designed dragon roll. I had to get it. Although the photo differed slightly from what was delivered. Our shrimp tempura and cucumber filled dynamite roll, topped with avocado and grilled eel looked like a dragon, but was missing some of the detailing the photo showed. Instead of cute sprouts for the dragon’s antenna, ours had two fried noodle strands sticking out from its “head”. But at least it had the same tempura-ed shrimp tail sticking out like a tongue. The very animated looking roll had the avocado and eel placed across its “back” like scales on a snake and finished with dollops of mayo. Each piece was placed gingerly to make it look like it was snaking across the plate in movement. The rest of the empty space was filled with the Japanese character for “dragon” using a sticky soy based sauce. This sauce also functioned as a dipping element for each piece. Though throughout the meal, I did as my Japanese guest did and refrained from the use of soy sauce. For authentic experience, and because the rolls were plenty flavourful as they were.

The rest of the menu too offered a beautifully taken teaser photo for the section it introduced. Sashimi, nigri, rolls, etc. Not only did they specialize in the traditional, but they also incorporated the more modern takes on North American sushi like pressed box sushi and a deconstructed roll in a rice bowl.


The “Hyoga sashimi carpaccio” was a unique twist on thinly sliced cuts of raw meat served in an acidic vinaigrette. But instead of beef they used salmon and yellowtail. And instead of lemon they introduced the Japanese citrus, yuzu. Yuzu juice was mixed into a creamy mayonnaise, giving the dish a oily and milky pool to sit in. A tuff of greens centred the dish. All together it tasted more like a spring seafood salad, but deconstructed. Especially with the vinaigrette that reminded me of a tangy thousand island dressing. This was defiantly a unique interpretation.


Equally interesting is the very delicate flavours of the “Saba shiso ume roll”. It is mackerel and Japanese basil wrapped in rice and seaweed, and topped with a dollop of sour plum. Not only did it look beautiful in its simplicity, but it tasted like it to. Especially beautiful with the perfectly chosen vessel to display it on: this red wood pedestal bowl. And taken in with the use of lightweight wooden chopsticks: it made the meal all the more delicate.

As for the taste it was more fragrant than flavourful. The combination is nothing that I have had, not that I have had much exposure to Japanese basil and sour plum, let alone together in this contrasting pairing of strong flavours. You definitely didn’t want to dip this morsel into any wasabi or soy sauce. It was plenty sour and plenty herbaceous, it didn’t need the flavour of salt also battling it out. Nothing I would crave again, but a great palette cleaner in between more pungent tastes.


The dish ware used to present the “Nasu dengaku” is what made it stand out. This was baked eggplant cooked in dark miso and spooned into a porcelain dish shaped like a lettuce leaf. You could tell they were made to order given the heat of each right through to its softened centre. Each chunk had a nice firm yet squishy texture, and was tasty with the sweetness of the miso sauce. I would have liked more of the sauce on the side for dipping, it was that good. The sauce would have been nice on anything from meat to sushi rolls.


Their specialty were pressed rolls so we had to try one. The pressed hamachi (yellowtail) had tender fish over tender rice, both furthered soften by a creamy mayo. It had a nice smokey finish to it, thanks to the torched green onions.


For dessert we had one of each of their in house churned ice creams. Red bean with actual chunks of bean. “Kinako” which is
roasted and ground soy bean powder, that reminded me of mild peanuts. And matcha with a bold flavour. They were delicious and complementary in their no so sweet flavour.


And the meal finally ended with a hand written bill and a dish of jelly belly beans to share.


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.
Coming back from Toronto recently, with its over priced and not as nice sushi, I could taste the difference and appreciate our accessibility to fresh seafood at prices where you can afford to eat until you are full of fish on rice. And no better a representation of the accessibility of sushi then here. “Hyoga”, a hidden gem of sorts. Tucked away and here for those in the know. Recommended for fresh fish and authentic Japanese dishes served and made by Japanese chefs and Japanese servers. Enjoyed in a relaxed environment with attentive staff, your plate leaves empty and your cup stays full. Don’t deny your cravings.


2-3343 Kingsway, Vancouver BC, V5R5K6
Hyoga Japanese Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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