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Category: South Burnaby Page 1 of 3

Marutama Ramen Metrotown

Unpopular opinion: “I am not a fan of Marutama Ramen”.

Maybe it’s because I like being the odd man out, or maybe my taste buds are a skewed; but I am not a fan of the multi-location, ramen chain, “Marutama”. In fact they may very well be one of my last choices for ramen. But today we were in Burnaby, my guest had been craving a bowl of their chicken broth ramen, and I didn’t have the heart to say, “No”. Although, I did suggest dining at the neighbouring “Boiling Point” instead, due to their lack of a line.

However, the wait for “Marutama” wasn’t that long, and we only had to endure 5 minutes of it in the cold with all the others hungry folks. So there we stood patiently by the doorway, after having written our names down on a clipboard out front. We would stare into the all glass interior, watching lustfully as the tables turned over quite quickly.

This is the latest location of this popular chain, located is in the expanding area of Burnaby, just past Metrotown. Once home to a different ramen restaurant, the space didn’t feel all that much different now. Narrow tables meant to maximize seating, and the kitchen/bar towards the back. Well lit and warm, even despite us sitting by the door that regularly swung open, exposing us to the elements.

The menu is a one laminated sheet. It showcases their chicken broth and the variations of ingredients and noodles with it. With an egg, without, spicy, extra meat, or all of the above. At the base of it, it is all the same.

Remembering I wasn’t a fan of my first and most recent bowl, I ordered their signature bowl with creamy chicken broth, seaweed, and a whole soft boiled egg. It came with the maximum number of toppings for a more varied meal. I don’t find that the broth has enough flavour, the richness that I love in my favourite bowls of ramen was missing here. It felted watered down and it lacked interest. I would have also liked a thicker noodle, to offer a better balanced collection of textures to sort through. Something satisfying to gnaw on. With this it was small pieces of soften seaweed, a whole egg that was hard to ration out bite by bite, fatty slices of cha su, and thin wispy stands of noodles.

The table side condiments do help in curating your bowl. Between us we used 3/4 of their fried garlic slices. I was also heavy handed on the toasted sesame seeds, and torgarashi power. Yet I still couldn’t finish my serving. I found myself growing bored of the taste mid way.

Anticipating this, I ordered some gyozas to have something else to help change up the taste. They were your run-of-the-mill pork and vegetable filled dumplings. I knew exactly what I was going to get with this, and it delivered. A classic with a soy and vinegar dipping sauce.

Sorry, for those who have been offended by my opinion here. But I have had this a handful of times now, and can safely conclude that I don’t like their ramen. And in fact, I like them less after each subsequent visit. I can see why others love their chicken broth though. That there is quality and authenticity that goes into each bowl, everything is made fresh daily, without msg or imitation flavours, and its lighter nuance appeals to more individuals. The latter was the goal of its creator, based out of Japan. He wanted to create a bowl of ramen that would satisfy anyone from around the world, and given that chicken is one of those food items that majority of people like, this became his flagship product.

That being said, my guest like what she had just fine, cleaning her bowl it full satisfaction. She had the “Aosa ramen” with aosa seaweed, two pieces of cha su, and an egg she added on. She also requested it to be made spicy. Although truthfully in terms of ingredients, it was no different than mine, same seaweed and all.

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Once again, I am not a fan of their chicken broth ramen, but will recommend it to those who like a lighter broth, and all the garlic chips they can stomach. Just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it. We don’t share the same mouth after all. Don’t deny your cravings.

MARUTAMA RA-MEN
5278 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H 2E9
(604) 430-3343
marutama.ca

SweetHoney Dessert

“Sweet Honey Desserts” is a cafe serving traditional Taiwanese desserts. This summer they have garnered much attention from their hyper realistic dog cakes. And now with two locations, you can visit them in either Burnaby or Richmond.

I have dined with them once before in Richmond, but after trying two desserts with little excitement I decided not to return. That was until I saw that they have new Christmas treats for the winter season. Riding the wave of success with their dog theme, they now have two more dawning Santa hats. And for me it is like collecting “Pokémon” in the augmented reality game, “Pokémon Go”. It is essentially the same chocolate dog, but now that it comes with a hat, I wanted it all over again.

So here I was, now at their Burnaby location getting a better second impression of this chain. A more favourable visit with some desserts I will return for. Located on Grimmer street, the area is quickly expanding with many like dessert and drink cafes. The shoppe is easy to spot with their entire menu pictured as decals splashed across the exterior. A collection of well groomed fluffy pancakes, rice balls, and fruit beverages.

The interior is fairly modern. Geometric shapes adhered on to a mirrored surface on one side of the room, and red and white striped wallpaper on the other. The dining area is spacious with plenty of room to move between lacquered table tops and cushy chairs. We were given our choice of seats and handed a stack of menus to peruse through.

The main menu was handsomely bounded, arranged by specific items, featuring plenty of glossy photos. A page for “durian lovers”, and two for those who like mango, grass jelly, and ice cream. For more traditional Chinese desserts look to their “tofu pudding series”, “rice ball series”, or “sago”. There was a lot or options, and a lot of overlap within each category. Though the photos definitely helped in the ordering process. For noting is that everything we had was exactly as pictured in the the photo.

We started with their Christmas specials. And what I thought was their ice cream dog cake with Santa hats, like below, was actual a solid chocolate puppy with a fondant hat. Not as realistic as the cake, but just as cute and as memorable. Plus they make for great stocking stuffers. They line the top of their refrigerated glass case in easy to take out plastic boxes with handles. But be warned the hat isn’t secured all that well to the top of the dog, and the dog isn’t stable on the cardboard base either.

As for the original dog dessert, the cake only comes in chocolate. A bull dog on his belly with pudgy arms and meaty legs outstretched, and a nub of a tail at his end. It comes right out of the freezer and has the white ice crystals to prove it. Said crystals highlights the detail in the dog’s coat well. I advise waiting for them to thaw and for the cake to start sweat a little, in order to be able to cut into it with ease. Honestly that is half the fun of this treat, to be able to slice into the dog and ruin the illusion as such. As for taste it is like a melty chocolate mousse. Not very rich, not very chocolatey. But if it had both of those characteristics, it would have been better for it. Great to have once for the novelty of saying that you have. But as for taste, you are better off with chocolate ice cream by the scoop.

Next was their soufflé pancake, holiday edition. They are the latest restaurant to offer this jiggly treat. The lightest pancake you will ever have, in a rendition that is especially eggy. This gave it a more savoury feel; one that I preferred, and was best highlighted by the salted cheese foam it cams in. The foam is very similar to the topping you can get crowning a bubble tea. Tasty. But sadly, the only thing festive about this was the fondant red and white Santa hat. The very same one used for the dogs above. The fruit on the side felt out of place and out of season. I would have liked green and red sprinkles instead. Although the papaya, mango, watermelon, and blueberries did offer a nice freshness, complimenting the salted foam and helping to balance the dessert as a whole. Except, I could make out the taste of durian in each of them. I guess they were all stored together, and that the very distinct and fragrant flavour of durian bleeds. And as for the Santa hat, it was horribly sweet with a tougher chew. Maybe not for eating. Its sugariness was overwhelming, but it did what I wanted it to visually.

As cute as these ideas were, I much rather their regular menu items. Desserts with great textures, that aren’t too sweet.

As a fan of durian, who is also too lazy to crack open the fruit herself, whenever I see it featured on the menu, I have to take advantage. I went for the “Durian Mochi”. There were three perfectly gummy rounds, well filled with durian fruit from Thailand. And rolled in shredded coconut. Deliciously done, but out of personal preference I would have been happier without the coconut, to be able to best enjoy the smooth texture of the mocchi and its hidden fruit centre. As a whole it was deliciously sweet yet mild enough for those who don’t necessarily like the flavour of durian. Plus we didn’t get any of the smell if you aren’t a fan of it either.

If you are looking for a great sticky chew, you have to try their rice balls. These are “Glutinous rice balls” sitting in a pool of syrup. The sweet liquid adds sweetness, and also helps in adhering the mix of crushed peanuts, sesame, and coconut flakes to your ball; when you dip into it at the centre of the bowl. But be sure to eat these first, the crushed nuts do get soggy quick; and as a result, you don’t get that great contrast in texture between gooey rice ball and crunchy peanuts.

But if you are looking for something more decadent, you can get your balls stuffed with black sesame, and served in a pool of split sesame and walnut soup. I loved the simple and clean presentation. Biting into a ball, it was an unexpected and delicious surprise to have a pool of liquid pour out in to your mouth. I just wish there were more rice balls, especially given how much sauce you get with an order; and it isn’t as great without something to dip into it. There was more than half of the blended colour soup left when we were done with it.

And during the last visit to their Richmond location, I also tried the “mango pomelo sago”. I expected something more like mango pudding in taste and texture. But this was thin and bland. There was enough mango flavour in the soup, and you wanted something more substantial to dip into and/or eat with it. Maybe more rice balls? Or larger tapioca pearls. Overall, I likened this to a watered down smoothie bowl.

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 highly recommend their rice ball series, and don’t know another restaurant that offers such an extensive array of it and durian themed desserts. And now with a location in Burnaby, I can visit them more often, and at my convenience. Don’t deny your cravings.

SWEETHONEY DESSERT
5358 Grimmer St, Burnaby, BC V5H 2H2
(604) 559-8599
weethoneydessert.com

OneZo Tapioca 丸作

After dinner we were looking for something sweet to end the night on. My guest has been meaning to visit this bubble tea shop in Burnaby for a while now. And she hasn’t until now, given the long lines and its original opening popularity.

We arrived just in time to beat the rush. With limited seating, you are lucky to be able to grab one of their two tables, or row of bar seats facing the wall.

This bubble tea cafe is better known for their house-made pearls. They don’t deal in the regular black tapioca balls, but smaller pearls flavoured in a variety of popular Asian ingredients and seasonal flavours.

You place your order at the counter, and like most other bubble tea cafes, you can choose your sweetness and amount of ice by percentage. They had all the familiar milk teas and slushes; as well as the new trendy dirty brown sugar tea series, fruit blended green teas, real taro smoothies, and even a collection of “healthy teas” which included honey and sesame teas.

Next, you pick your pearls. The “crystal” tapioca is white in colour with no distinguishing flavour. Purple tapioca is taro, black is black sesame, and yellow is mango. Only the black sesame tasted like it promised. I barely got any mango, and had even less from the taro. They also have a rotating seasonal flavour, on this visit it was “cactus”. I would have liked to try such a unique offering, but they only have their seasonal pearls available during the weekends. Instead I got their “Onezo tapioca”, three of the above flavours mixed together. Seeing as it is all pre-mixed, you can’t choose which three you get. They also don’t offer you samples of their pearls, so you take a chance on not getting what you want, or a flavoured pearl that might not compliment your drink. As for the pearl itself, I found them small, and the chew less desirable as a result, but still very fresh. However, the mix of pearl flavours I wanted to try, ended up taking away from my drink.

I had the “Jasmine green tea milk tea”, which is one of their most popular drinks. I ordered it as intended with 80% sugar and 100% ice. I liked how I was able to enjoy it as a smaller cup, which gave me a better ratio of pearl to sip-of-drink.

My guest, the bubble tea fan, went for the “oolong milk tea” with 50% sugar, 25% ice, and the crystal tapioca. She found that the white ones tasted like sesame.

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.
Another bubble tea option in Burnaby, giving you a differing reason to visit them, instead of their competitors. Don’t deny your cravings.

ONEZO
4929 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H 2E5
(604) 423-4929
onezotapioca.com

Xing Fu Tang, Burnaby

This one has been a long time coming. I have tried to visit this Taiwanese import for a while now, but kept encountering lengthy lines at its original location. So with its second in Burnaby, in a less frequented area, with plenty of parking to boot; a visit is much more feasible.

Its all windowed exterior and bright interior lights make it a beacon in the night. Easy to spot driving by, where everything else is shuttered for the evening. There menu is televised above the counter and taped up on a pillar by the door. It is easy to read and make your choice by sight. 11 specialty drinks and your typical teas with the possibility to add in pearls.

My guest is already a frequent customer so knew what she was getting, the same thing she gets every time. Their trademark specialty drink, the one that they are most famous, and the one the menu highlighted with a larger photo of.

“Brown sugar pearl milk”. An additional level of decadence is added to your typical pearl milk tea. The tapioca pearls are mixed in with melted brown sugar. The latter has a sticky toffee-like consistency, adhering to the pearl and the cup; making it look “dirty” (another nick name used to describe this class of drink). This combining of pearl and brown sugar is done throughout the day, when they sell through of one batch. If you visit at the right time, you will be treated to the show of them making it, and the scent of a room sweetened by cooking sugars. A specialty wok is placed at the counter, set behind glass for a hygienic view point. Here is where the magic happens, and the pearls stay until they are scooped in to cups using a specialty curled metal spatula.

As for the drink itself: It is a scoop of these brown sugar extra sweeten pearls, milk, cocoa power, and a vanilla cream foam topping that is torched. You can smell its burnt caramel flavour just by holding it. But surprisingly it is not as sweet as you think it would be. Drinking it without stirring, it tastes like slightly chocolatey milk. But after a good mix, folding the foam into the milk and having its torched heat warm up the serving, it is pretty darn tasty. A sweetness that is great the first few sips, but wears on you after a few more. No complaints from my guest who admitted that this was her second one in as many days.

I preferred the “bunny jelly mango smoothie”, this was also recommend by the laminated colour menu. A larger photo to have the allure of a rabbit on your drink lure you in. It was impressive that they were able to make the drink thick enough to have the coconut jelly moulded bunny sit a top of the drink without sinking. This too was sweet, but better with the tartness of their mango and the blended ice that helped to thicken it. In this drink you don’t get the regular black pearls, these were called “pink pearls”. They were squishier and popped more than the regular pearls, but not as juicy as juice pearls. A nice in between with less chewing, and equal parts sweet and tart. But the rabbit was my favourite part, a dessert on its own. Tasty coconut jelly you can either try to break down and have with your drink, or coconut jelly you can fish out of your cup and eat as is. Two desserts in one.

Worth noting is that their cups feel smaller than the ones at other bubble tea places, but at the same time I don’t think you need anymore. They were filled to the brim, and then some with the spill proof lid in place.

And while you are waiting for your drink to be made to other, you can also get your fortune told. A Taiwanese tradition that has you picking a red tipped wooden stick out of a collection of 100. Each one is numbered. The number corresponds to a number on a little drawer, from the fixture adjacent. You open the drawer to retrieve your paper fortune. A sheet that you can take with you as a souvenir. Based on the ones my guest and I got, it feels very romantic and relationship driven.

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 am not a big fan of bubble tea and sweet things, but from what I tasted, and comparing it to others, I definitely like their brown sugar pearl drink the most (haven’t tried many to date). Worth trying if you haven’t already. They are on a different level with their bubble tea gastronomy. Don’t deny your cravings.

XING FU TANG
2675 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC V5R 5H4
(604) 423-3773
xingfutang.ca

Audrey Moment Afternoon Tea & Cafe

Burnaby has its first tea house and I finally gotten around to checking it out. It is fairly close to Metrotown if walking, and if you are driving, they are conveniently in a shopping plaza with plenty of parking.

When you enter, the foyer has a counter with a collection of macarons you can take to go, loose leaf teas they sell by the pound, and potted succulents perfect for gifting.

We were led to the salon where the room was dressed girly. A collection of pretty bobbles and cutesy elements that don’t necessarily go together, but individually have their charms. Antique frames and worn wood shelves with elaborate crystal chandeliers and purple velvet drapes dressed with golden tassels. It all matched the soft music playing: top forty tracks without their usual base or lyrics. Pretty and melodic.

We were seated one of their carved chairs with pearlescent paint that matched the collection of white round tables. There was plenty of seating and coming 1 hour before they closed for the night, we were only the second group sat.

Our visit was a last minute decision, so I didn’t get a chance to book 24 hours in advance, meaning we didn’t get to try their trademark tea set served in a gold bird cage decorated with artificial rose buds on a vine. I even asked if we could order a random assortment of sweet and savoury nibbles and have them displayed on the specialty cage. It was a hard no.

So instead, we got the second tier “Afternoon Tea” set, the “Audrey moment” is a collection of four savoury items, two black current scones with Devon cream and preserve, and four mini desserts. $29.95 per person with a pot of tea each.

My guest got the jasmine green tea, a green China tea with jasmine flowers. It was served in a mismatching tea set with blue and gold speckled pot and a pink cup with a Victoria scene painted at the bottom of the cup and on its saucer pair.

I was given the option of one of their hot or cold drinks instead of tea in a pot, so I took the time to try one of their coloured lattes. You can choose your flavoured syrup and what colours you want. I went for A rose flavoured latte coloured with rainbow milk. Truthfully, I am not a fan of coffee, but will drink more if they look more like this. The “rose” was actually three dried buds that sank to the bottom of the cup. They didn’t look all that appealing, especially once all the colours of the latte art blended together became a murky green pool.

As for the tea tower it was served in the more traditional three layers of plates on a wire rack. We worked our way from savoury to sweet in the following order. Of note, everything is made it house and does rotate on and off the menu.

The “Egg salad sandwich” included tomato and spinach. It was plain, and could have used more seasoning in its egg mix, or some pepper as a minimum.

The “Bacon cheese quiche” had a but good ratio of cheese and bacon on a buttery crust.

The “Shrimp bite” was cold shrimp on toasted hard bread with a heavier dusting of paprika. Nothing special with this one sadly.

The “Chicken salad roll” included spinach, lettuce, celery, and mayo all bundled in a pesto wrap. This could have used some ranch for some bite.

The “Black currant scones” are worth revisiting, they too are made in house and are a staple, available all the time. They were nice and crispy on the out outside, and warm and spongy on the inside. Best with both the smooth Devon cream and sweet raspberry preserve as a spread.

For dessert they were pretty bites with some hits and misses. We both didn’t like the blue earl grey macaron. It was far too sweet and the texture stuck to your teeth. We both passed on any more after two bites.

The “Tiramisu pot” was a cute idea, but I wish you could eat the actual pot and that they used mint instead of parsley for the green. As far as taste it was good, especially as I am not a fan of tiramisu. This was a nice creamy dessert with spongy cake at the bottom and a crunchy crushed cookie topping. It wasn’t overly softened and soggy like the dessert normally is.

I did like the “Grape Napoleon”. It was light and airy, layers flaked off as you bit in, and powered sugar snowed down. Never had it with grapes before, but I liked the pairing. The firm and slightly tart grape with the sweet cream and buttery crust was a nice combination.

The “Passion fruit and mango panna cotta” was also tart, but more cheesy with its firm Greek yogurt -like cream. The popping juice pearls on top added some textural interest and a change of taste in between bites.

 

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.
Everything is made in house and you can tell. I didn’t necessarily like each element, but as a whole I did enjoy the tea set enough; but not enough to to try their larger tea set with simply one more savoury item and another sweet, even if it is uniquely served in a bird cage. But I will return if I am looking for a nice tea and some dessert in such a spot when in Burnaby. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

AUDREY MOMENTS
120b-6540 Burlington Avenue, Burnaby BC, V5H 4G3
604 559-9789
audreymomentcafe.com
Audrey Moment Afternoon Tea & Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Boss

I haven’t been here in ages, and within the first few mins of our visit, it all came back to me as to why. “The Boss” has been a Metrotown staple for years now. A quick and dirty Hong Kong style cafe that focuses on speed and customer turnover versus service and the customer’s experience. I found the lack of communication insufferable and how they delivered drinks and utensils with a drop, rude. My guest reassured me that this was common place in such diners, and that it’s all about efficiency. But I didn’t feel like being rushed through a meal I was planning on sitting and enjoying with a friend.

I should have known it would be a rough service when they seated my guest in a 2 foot wide booth, and when she asked for one with more space she was given attitude for her request. Our server was displeased, and tried to reassure her that she could fit all her bags and shopping on to the narrow bench beside her. Though she insisted on relocating, and the result was the wait staff making fun of her in Cantonese, not realizing she too spoke and understood the language. I wasn’t present during the whole scene, otherwise I would have stood up for her and walked out. And it wasn’t like we would be missing anything from the meal below.

Our request for water, napkins, and another fork (so that we both got one) was met with a look of intolerance. Like I was burdening them with my request to have the tools I needed to eat my meal. What they didn’t hesitate on was any mention of the bill. Our server asked us twice how we would be paying, together or separate, as she took our order. And later our billed showed up when my guest still had food left in front of her.

We were just looking for a quick bite, so didn’t order anything too elaborate, simple meals for cheap, as to not disappoint. I deemed my slightly more expensive $12.95 meal more worth the cost given how more complex of a meal it was. This was a baked dish that I couldn’t just as easily make for myself as I could my guest’s choice below. “Baked seafood on fried rice with cream sauce. It was actually pretty good. Comforting in its creaminess, but once again, there was nothing much to it. I just wished that there was a warning that it would take much longer to come, or maybe the consideration of them making both dishes so they arrived on time. But I guess that isn’t efficient… the result, I watched my guest eat and she watched me after.

My guest had the “Breakfast combo A and B” for $2 less. But whereas my combo came with a drink, my choice of coffee or tea; my guest’s did not and she paid the $1 more for her lemon ice tea.

From “box A” she was able to choose one dish and another from “box B”. She had her option of an omelet and went for the shredded chicken filing. Grey chicken and green peas in a fluffy egg wrap. They were pretty bland on their own, so found their way into my seafood cream casserole as additional flavour and texture.

This came with her choice of a dinner roll or a slice of bread on the side, with a sealed mini tub of butter. Pretty basic.

Oddly, she chose more shredded chicken, but this time in instant noodle. And it tasted as bland as it looked. It was flavoured with sesame oil, but still lacked so much seasoning. This was left uneaten. There were other options like satay beef and beef brisket, vermicelli or macaroni; and yet she chose a packet she could get herself for $1.90 at any grocery store. At least now she knows, I guess.

 

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.
No cards accepted, no care given, and no flavour had. A cheap solution, but the food court is only a few steps away. But if you want a more calming place to sit and possibly an even faster dining experience than at any foodcourt with its lengthy lines, I guess this is an easy solution. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

THE BOSS
Metropolis at Metrotown
4720 Kingsway, Burnaby BC, V5H 4J2
604-438-2677
The Boss Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sweet Jesus ice cream

I have visited the “Sweet Jesus” ice cream parlour in Toronto once before, so knew what to expect when our very own in Vancouver popped up. Therefore, I didn’t rush down when they first opened, but instead made them my “seeing as I am here” treat, if I had an errand to run at Metrotown. So tonight, this was the night.

This is the city’s newest ice cream sweetheart, all piled high with its own handheld drop tray. The are known for their large cones and cups, served high, drizzled, and dipped in a mix of crunchy and crispy crushed toppings. They opened late fall, and thanks to their safe and warm spot, within the city’s largest mall, their ice cream is still enjoyed this colder season. The location is great as shopping folks tend to indulge in a sweet treat when running around, and more so when the mall is as hot and as stuffy as it was tonight.

Their brightly lit white and teal blue shop was an eye catcher, along with their glowing neon sign; drawing you in like a moth to a flame. Their name alone beckons you near, reading it gets you stepping closer, close enough to read one of their two menus. Either the one above the counter to order, with an ingredient break down. Or the one off to the side: the poster size panel that includes photos along with their catchy name. I preferred the latter method of ordering, as half its allure is its presentation. So typically I would make my choice based on looks, but today it was actually seasonal availability.

But narrowing down the choices weren’t easy. There were photos of pink and blue cotton candy lined, raspberry syrup topped, vanilla soft serve towers to consider. And freeze dried raspberry coated, mango syrup drizzled, rainbow sprinkled topped wonders to ponder over. The possibilities and combinations were endless. And if all that sounds too much you can simply order their soft serve as is or in a twist with chocolate and vanilla, or mango and coconut.

I visited with a friend, and as her first taste, I directed her towards their signature coated cones, we both went for a waffle cone, justifying the extra cost with taste. She ordered a small and I got myself a regular. I wanted to see the size difference, but found there wasn’t much of any. In hindsight my regular cone was a scoop too much ice cream. I should have saved the $1.53, and gotten a kids size as well.

My guest got the “Hella Nutella”. A chocolate and vanilla twist gets a Nutella hazelnut chocolate drizzle from a squeeze bottle. And is then rolled in a coating or Nutella wafer crumbs, corn flakes, and crushed pistachios. She loved the flavour, appreciating the crispy and crunchiness of the topping mix. She didn’t find it too sweet, and that each bite had her going back for more. The flavour was good, but I wondered why they didn’t go for a hazelnut crust instead of the pistachios? I felt it would have made for better flavour symmetry with the use of Nutella spread.

As I mentioned earlier, my choice was based on seasonal availability. I went for their “Gingerbread house”. Vanilla soft serve drizzled with cream cheese icing, then rolled in a tray of crushed gingersnap cookies, candy cane shards, and sprinkles. In contrast my chosen cone gave me many strong flavours, salty cream cheese, minty candy cane, and punchy cookie crumbs. Altogether it was best on the first few bites, but the flavour grew out fast. Luckily most of the coating sloughed off and fell on to the floor or across my lap.

We were given a plastic cup for our cones. It not only keeps your hands clean from runny ice cream, but it also catches most of the toppings you drop. Toppings that you can later salvage with a spoon.

 

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? – Yes.
Fun for the novelty and the ‘gram, but a little too indulgent for me as a treat. If I returned I would opt for a spiral of soft serve in a cup instead. A cleaner flavour on the palate and one that I can see myself finishing through to the end. Although there are many other soft serve options in the mall that I prefer and would recommend instead. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

SWEET JESUS
Metrotown
4700 Kingsway, Burnaby BC, V5H 4M1
604-423-4280
sweetjesus4life.com

Stem Japanese Eatery

My guest and I stumbled across this restaurant the last time we visited the Royal Oak area and were looking for a place to dine at. But then it was a Monday, the only day they are closed. Therefore we decided to make it our next dinner destination together, so here we were a month later.

My dining companion was smart to make a reservation, and a good thing too as the space is a smaller one, and today there was a larger party taking up all the tables by the window. Without any blinds you get a look directly into the restaurant. A small chalkboard and their branded tote bags hanging in the window marks the space. And within, each employee wears a branded tee shirt as their uniform, as we entered they greeted us in unison.

Walking in included walking under cloth banners and past a wine barrel converted into a hostess booth. The latter spoke to their celebrated wine list and their makeshift cellar at the back where they held this collection. I didn’t enjoy a drink tonight, but appreciated by proxy, eyeing the three woman sharing a bottle at the table next to ours.

We were given a small two person table, across from the narrow bar. If seated at the latter, a little barrier and a collection of bowls and knick knacks separate you and the chefs cutting fresh fish and platting them over crisp greens.

With four servers running about, you were able to make asks from any of them. They unanimously kept our cups full of water, and our tables cleanly bussed.

We took our time going through their dynamic menu. There were so many interesting dishes worth our consideration like the green tea soba crab roll, egg custard with chicken and prawn, and a collection of different mushrooms coated in tempura batter. We took our server’s suggestions to heart, but kept most of our ordering off of their fall seasonal menu. Our meal would be cleverly presented in an order that highlighted each flavour from lightest to the heaviest, an intended and gradual build up.

The “Bio-dynamic zucchini blossom tempura” is one of their most popular dishes and the one not to miss, as it speaks most to their restaurants name and their claim that “We are the stem, you are the flower”. These are zucchini blossoms from Forstbauer farms in Chilliwack, stuffed with ebi shinjo (prawn paste) and shiso leaves, then slightly battered and deep fried. Their crunch was intoxicating. You were able to enjoy the crispiness from petal to stem, allowing you to savour the meat ball like filling at the centre. The raw onion and lightly dressed greens helped to cut the little grease from the deep fry. For added moisture a smearing through the creamed rim was a nice treat. One was plenty, having both to yourself would have been a little much.

The “Haida Gwaii halibut cheek age-oroshi” was as lovely as the menu described it in words (the menu was void of any photography). This was another deep fried dish that didn’t feel like it. This was in season halibut served in an oroshi daikon radish and dashi soy broth with BC pine mushroom and shigure-ni. This was one of the most refined morsels or fish that I have had. It was perfect in its seasoning, allowing the natural flavours of the fish to come through. And especially with the pops of sweetness from the chopped up mushroom. I sopped up all the paste at the bottom of the plate clean with this one, not unlike what I did with the dish below.

The “Niku-Tofu” was Shitamachi style braised sliced beef and tofu, sweet onion, and organic shiitake. This was a homestyle, comfort dish that left me craving rice in conjunction. Although if we did order a bowl on the side, we would have needed another sauce, some soy, or salt to give it more flavour. The dish was plenty tasty as it was intended, so much so that I brought the plate to my mouth and drank the broth clean off of it.

By comparison the “Chilliwack miso pork jowl” was a little salty. Natural pork jowl cured for 48 hours in a house blend miso, before it is grilled and served with a Granny Smith salad and parsnip chips. You got quite a few pieces of pork in this dish. Each, a nice hearty chew of tenderness, soften in natural fat. The green and tart apple balanced out the dish with its crunch factor and freshness. My guest likened it to upscale Chinese style bbq pork. We ate a few pieces as is before wanting some rice here as well. This time we ordered some. But I didn’t find the value in ordering just a bowl of steamed plain white rice, so order some rice balls below.

“Grilled onigiri”. Two pieces of grilled rice balls with soy and scallion miso. What arrived wasn’t what I imagined when I order it. I wanted the salty paste that gave the grilled rice its only flavour to be incorporated into the rice. To have it mixed in before the triangle was shaped and grilled to a hard chew. Instead we were forced to mix things in ourselves and the result were bits that had no taste and others that had too much salt. It at least satiated my craving for carbs and paired really nice with the pork jowl above. I just wish that it was grilled less so that the browned rice kernels weren’t so hard.

 

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.
Everything was delicious, a really refined meal that left you feeling like you had a healthy and nutritious dinner. Each plate looked small, but in actuality was the perfect proportion for two. We both got enough of each flavour to leave us wanting more, and to be excited for the next round. I would love to come back to try some of their finer cuts of sashimi at the finer cost. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

STEM
5205 Rumble Street, Burnaby BC, V5J 2B7
604-434-0250
Stem Japanese Eatery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hi Genki

Ever since I visited Japan in 2015, I have trying to find my way back. I speak of the food and the culture, and how little I got to experience them both. So hearing my pleas, a few of my foodie friends have recommended “Hi Genki” to me. They follow its name with the disbelief that I have never been, and have yet to even hear of them. Although, you can’t blame me, given its location. This isn’t a restaurant on a busy shopping strip, or one in a mall, heck it isn’t even on a road that you would drive by. “Hi Genki” is located at the lobby of the “Robert Nimi, Nekkei Home”, a Japanese community centre and retirement home, adjacent to the “Nekkei National Museum & Cultural Centre”. So when craving for some authentic Japanese fare, I guess in theory, they should be a sure thing. Either way I was dedicated to finding out.

You walk through Nekkei Home’s lobby and hang a left. You just follow the flow of bodies lining up against the plexiglass barrier that separate carpet from tile, restaurant from retired living centre.

One of the clerks welcomes you at the threshold. With menus in hand, they lead you to the next available seat. One of the four person, square tables that make up their entire seating plan. One of several, in one of the three rows, that reaches from one end of the restaurant to another. It is all completely functional, like the rest of the restaurant, putting decor and motif to the side. The only thing that really identified them as a restaurant was their acrylic sign and the collection of plastic glasses for water, and ceramic mugs for hot tea, surrounding it.

Everything is brought out to you on a push cart, be it extra utensils, additional cups of tea, or our entire six piece order for two people.

The food as a whole definitely measures up to all its praise. Having tried such dishes in Japan, I can honestly say that this brought me back. “Hi Genki” is a great place to satisfy that craving for Japanese, homestyle, comfort cuisine at. Just reading the menu and looking at a few of their photos, I knew I was in for a delicious meal, but how to decide? I couldn’t and I didn’t. Instead, I got one of their specials of the day that gave me three tastes for the price of one.

The “Don Don Udon” is a great way to get a little bit of everything before you, when you can’t decide on what you want more of.

The “Yakitori don” was sweet teriyaki style, dark meat chicken over rice, with greens and plenty of sautéed onions. Most of its runny sauce is pooled at the bottom of the bowl, it flavours the rice without it making it overly salty.

I liked the “mini udon” for its rich and fragrant broth with its perfectly chew noodles. The green onions added some spice and the quarter of a fish cake slice some fishy flavour.

The “croquette with curry on rice” was my favourite of the three. I liked the soften potato mash enclosed by the crispy fried breading. It added some texture to the lumpy curry with chunks of carrot and potato that melted under the pressure of your tongue and teeth.

My partner too couldn’t decide on what to get so opted for two full entrees, agreeing that our inevitable leftovers would make a great meal the next day.

The “Minch katsu tei” was another special, it too was listed on a separate piece of paper. It was described as “Breaded fried beef and pork patty with salad and rice”. The set also included a bowl of warming miso soup. The potato salad was your classic picnic offering. Firm with cubes of potato, yet crispy with the diced celery and pickle chunks mixed in under all that tangy mayo.

As for the featured patties, we thought it would be a chicken patty and a beef patty, separately breaded and fried. Instead, this was shredded pieces of chicken and beef minced and mixed together in one patty. It was as interesting in taste as it sounds. The patty had a nice soften texture under its crisp breading. Best with the sweet and tangy brown sauce, that came in a self serve squeeze bottle on the side.

His second choice was the “Chicken katsu curry”. Deep fried breaded chicken cutlet, slathered over with the same curry as above. The crispy and soft textures make a great combination here, just like the pairing of salty chicken and the sweet curry sauce.

Just like our mains, I couldn’t make up my mind and pick a single dessert, so I didn’t.

“Daifuku” is a round chewy rice cake filled with sweet red bean paste. I liked it most for its sticky texture.

The “Sake manjyu” was very similar in taste, given the use of sweet red bean paste as a filling here too. This time the shell was a steam bun, although not with a fluffy doughy texture, but instead more of a crumbly one.

I liked the “Anmitsu”, but reading its description I thought it was more than just canned fruit and jello topped with ice cream. Not that anything is wrong with that, but I could have purchased and combined all of the following myself. Seaweed jelly, mixed fruits, red bean paste in syrup, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The texture of the seaweed jello was a lot more firm that the boxed kind. It was like a mix between gelatin and cartilage. I liked how the ice cream melted into the syrup for a nice saucy mix.

 

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.
The food is great, and I liked how comfortable the spot felt. It well matched the energy cultivated by the friendly and soft spoken staff. A great place for an enjoyable meal any time of the day. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

HI GENKI
6680 Southoaks Crescent, Burnaby BC, V5E 4N3
604-777-0533
Hi Genki Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Myst, revisit

Having already dined at “Myst” before, I knew exactly what I was going to get coming in: great Chinese comfort food at reasonable prices. There, I met up with a few other food bloggers, as we were here to try some of “Myst’s” newest dishes, and a handful of our favourites.

And as always when it comes to a media event, 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.

To read up on my first impression and more description on the decor and setting, check out my original post, link below.

Myst

 

On this night they had already launched over 20 something new food items and another 10 plus in drinks. They were added on to the menu with a highlighted “new” bubble next to its photo. Their photo and description was also added to the television playlist, advertising new menu items and the chef’s favourites on loop.

The following dishes will be organized between new and favourites. First what’s new:

The “Preserved cabbage bamboo green soy beans with sliced fish” might not be the most visually appealing plate, but what it lack in looks, it made up in texture. This one was fun to eat with the squishy beans, flakey fish, and the starchier nature of bamboo. As a whole, the dish offer a nice palette cleanser between all the much more punchy dishes to come.

The “Sichuan dan dan noodle with spicy peanut sauce” was more heat than sweet nut butter. I really enjoyed the chewy texture of the noodles to slurp, especiallu against the thick, gummy sauce it swam in. This was just the right amount of heat for me, tingly without taking away from the flavour of the preserved vegetable and minced pork.

We almost turned this one away, as when we read “Chinese fried shredded pancake with pork or chicken”, we didn’t imagine it coming rolled up like a burrito. The pork one was flavoured like the sweet and tangy brown sauce used. The chicken was like a club sandwich rolled up in the fragrant pancake. A few of us preferred a better ratio of pancake dough to meaty filling, whereas I liked it as it was, as I wanted and enjoyed the thick and chewy pancake more anyway.

The “Myst deluxe egg fried rice” is a dish that I would stop by to take out. A solid fried rice dish, able to take its place as a main thanks to the addition of a shrimp and pineapple skewer, and the inclusion of various large chunks of meat and sausage in the mix.

The “Assorted seafood spicy hot pot” delivered on its promise of heat with a flame keeping this dish warm, and with how much chilli oil and peppers they use to turn its broth a bright red. It was a flavour that my fellow diners claimed too spicy, yet they couldn’t help themselves coming back for more of. It was a flavour they wanted to experience again and again, through the pain.

The “Myst deluxe feast platter” is the kind of appetizer you order to share with, best with beer. It is a basket of deep fried goodness, only improved by having the basket itself be edible and deep fried (according to @shermansfoodadventures). It was a bed of yam fries (dressed in plum seasoning for a bit more sweetness) and prawn chips topped with two tiger prawns skewers, two pineapple and mini sausage wrapped in bacon skewers, and six deep fried prawns. I found it pretty tasty and salty as is, but for those who want more taste and tang, it comes with a sweet and sour dipping sauce. It this one as soon as it comes to your table, definitely better warm.

I highly recommend trying their new series of non-coffee lattes. Available in hot and cold, they are the perfect blend of intended flavour and creamy milk. Here we have a hot taro latte and a cold matcha latte.

Next, the following are items that we as a group, or individuals wanted because they(we) have had them before and it was memorable enough to want again.

My pick has to be the “Golden sands prawns”. When I recommend “Myst” this is the dish I tell everyone they must try. I have yet to find anything like it on any other menu. Deep fried prawns dressed in a thick coating of salted egg yolk. This gives you a crispy, yet melt in your mouth texture. My table-mates agreed with my order and my assessment, after giving it a try for themselves. Another one enjoyed right as it hits your table hot and crispy. I suggest eating it as is, head and all.

The “House special stir fried sliced noodle with beef” is a classic, and their rendition is one that I would also come back for. It tasted exactly as I expected, and was so good that I saved my portion for the very end, to enjoy as my last bite.

The “Myst assorted deep fried basket” is another one that I recommend. A collection of deep fried Chinese-style snacks like squid tentacles, salty peppery chicken, black rice cake, green beans, and more shrimp crackers. Although all deep fried, this collection has a mix of textures and taste, that keeps you going back to try them all. Squishy squid, crispy beans, and sticky and dense rice cake with a chew.

Another popular Chinese snack is “marinated items”, and at “Myst” you can make your own combo. Here, our group choose beef tripe, pork intestine, and tendon. Another dish great for those who eat for texture and likes a rubbery gelatin and extra chewy mouth feel. As for flavour, it tasted like they were marinated in beef noodle soup broth, which only made me like it more, and wish that we had all of them in a bowl of beef noodle instead.

By comparison, the “Steamed sliced fish with diced hot red peppers” wasn’t all that spicy. Hot but not as much so compared to the hot pot.

The “Three spiced mixed items” comes with your choice of either chicken or pork
intestine with basil on iron plate. We choose the latter. It was a nice salty dish, best enjoyed with some starch like the fried rice above.

The “Chinese style heavy smoking duck” was interesting. They weren’t joking about the “heavy” adjective used in its name. It was really smokey, heavily flavoured like a deep black tea, almost medicinal. In truth, it was not to my tastes, Instead, I craved a sweet and sour plum sauce to lighten the dish. As sticky spread to add some sauce and moisture to the dry duck and white dough buns you were to eat it with.

When it comes to “Myst’s” shaved snowflake ice desserts, get your cameras ready, this is a dish that is as much of a show as it is the perfect meal ender. We got the “Mango shave snowflake ice” and even though they used frozen mango (because mango is currently out of season), it was delicious. A great combination of tart fruit and sweetened condense milk. Not too heavy and not too sweet, an ideal palette refresher to end the meal above with.

But if you are still hungry, end your meal with some “Condense milk thick toast”. Sweet crispy bread that gives you the sweet ending you want with dessert, with the extra filling you may need to leave full and content.

 

 

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.
My original assessment stands, they make for a great one stop Chinese food stop. There is lot to try, and guarantee something for everyone. A great place to not don’t deny your Chinese comfort craving at.

 

MYST
#2-6400 Kingsway Burnaby BC, V5E 15C
604-364-6400
myst6400.com

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