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Category: South Cambie Street

Rain and Shine Cambie

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After dinner nearby, we thought we would indulge in a little craft ice cream. And seeing that “Rain and Shine” was empty, we thought to take advantage.

With no lines and no other customers, we were able to take our time sampling and deciding on our order, then sprawling ourselves across many of their empty seats.

I was also able to take in their decor uninterrupted. Their ice cream cone wallpaper, purple cow bust with upside down sugar cone horn, grassy centre pointed sun, honey comb light fixtures, and a cloths line display of their branded merchandise for purchase.

At $4.50 a regular scoop, the flight for four smaller tastes is a better deal at $9. And a more enjoyable option to share with a girlfriend. It enabled us to try three out of their five seasonal flavours, and revisit a “Rain and Shine” favourite for both of us. All on one of their, one of a kind hockey stick shaped flight paddle.

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The “Almond and orange biscotti” is zesty orange with crunchy chunks of chocolate biscotti. The “Malted milk chocolate honeycomb”, with its childhood nostalgia and foam-like Crunchie Bar toffee gives you two reasons to love and order it, season after season. The “Spiced quince” was described to us as a fusion of apples and pears, but reminded me more of dates. It embedded with small pieces of fruit in a union with sweet syrup. And the “Brown butter snickerdoodle” tasted like the cinnamon sugar cookie with vanilla ice cream. Not as sweets as I thought it would be, but just as decadent none-the-less.

This was our final line up, we just missed out on the other seasonal offerings of “mocha” ice cream and “poached pear sorbet”.

 

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.
As their name suggests, ice cream is great anytime, and anytime of the year. And “Rain or Shine” has some of the best to offer Vancouverites this winter. With tried and true flavours and a healthy amount of seasonal tastes, you too would brave the cold for some sweet cream. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

RAIN OR SHINE
3382 Cambie Street, Vancouver BC, V5Z2W5
604-876-9986
rainorshineicecream.com
Rain or Shine Ice Cream Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pronto

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When looking for a place to happy hour, my guest suggested “Pronto” on Cambie. Although the drink deals was not meant to be, we did try vermouth flights and we were not disappointed by them.

This authentic Italian restaurant spans across two buildings, the bar on the left and the deli/cafe on the right. Given our party of two and a half, we were forced to the family friendly half. And being out of the bar meant happy hour specials were excluded, even for us grown folk.

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The description on their website describes them best, ” Unadorned and straight forward. Old world yet modern”. It left like your nona’s kitchen with its honey comb tiles, freshly baked treats under glass, and a pantry well stocked with cans and preserves. The neatly pyramid-ed cans had purpose and made a great visual display. Cans of tomatoes, jars of pickled vegetables, and bottles of oil. All scattered around a homey style kitchen with stacks of plates, and a towers of soup bowls. Behind glass was a display of on the day made desserts: flavoured biscotti, panna cotta, tiramisu, and chocolate lava cake. We would later would pass on each, as the meal was already decadent enough.

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The cafe was a blending of dark wood and light tile. Cozy with cubicle-like booths, and tables in more private corners. The entire left wall was outfitted with mirrors and barred off with wood strips. It gave the space a nice spacious, yet protective feel.

Given the mention of “prochetta and pasta” on their restaurant exterior, I was keen to try a little of both. However, I would be disappointed again. The prochetta was only available in one of their lunch time sandwiches. It use to also be a key ingredient an entree, but due to inconsistency of the preparation method, they decided not to serve it by the slab for dinner any longer. Sad, because this would have been my first taste of prochetta, and it sounds amazing. “Porchetta” is Italian style savoury, fatty, and moist boneless pork roast. The meat is layered with stuffing, meat, fat, and pork crackling, then rolled, spitted, and roasted, over wood.

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Instead we ordered more appetizers. The “Seasoned Sicilian olives” included castelvetrano and Cerignola olives. They were a fresh and briny offering before some of the sharp liquors we were sipping on. The larger olives with their tiny pits were harder to eat daintily. I preferred the Granny Smith coloured green ones as they were on the milder side.

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The “Walnut Pesto and Gorgonzola crostini” might not look like much, but it is one worth revisiting. The pesto was a thick spread, like peanut butter, in texture and appearance. A sandy, nutty flavour, with a hint of honey and the creaminess of butter and salt to balance in out. I have never had anything like it. Best enjoyed with the spread warmed and bread toasted.

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By contract was the bold flavours of the “Stuffed medjool dates”, filled with Gorgonzola cheese and wrapped in prosciutto. I was surprised that it was served warm. These were three sharp flavours at odds with each other, each trying to stand out on its own. The date swelled with warm cheese, and the meat balanced the richness with its salted tang. But cured meat and the potency of blue cheese is quite the combination. Overall I found it interesting, but too rich to have more than one. And too sweet with the natural sugars of the date and the addition of honey drizzled over top.

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We went with the “Rigatoni Boscaiola” pasta. A handsome serving of prosciutto, sundried tomato, and cremini mushroom; in a garlic cream sauce. Offered on both lunch and dinner menus, for the same cost, in the same portion size. The noodles were evenly coated in this light and airy sauce. A surprising realization as it made with heavy cream. By comparison, the individual ingredients stood out. The pieces of cured meat, dried tomatoes, and mushroom would have been more enjoyable cut down into smaller pieces, to better balance the pasta. And I wish we had some bread on the side, to sop up the extra cream sauce with, it was that good.

They had two flights, we had both: a Vermouth and an Amari flight. The former usually starts your meal by opening your palate as a fortified wine. It is infused with each distiller’s mix of botanicals and herbs, and served chilled. The latter ends the meal as a digestive bitter. “Bitters” are created by infusing a distilled spirit with an intricate blend of roots, barks, spices, herbs, peels and botanicals.

We were given our choice of four for each, not not knowing left from right, we let our bartender choose, basically just pointing out what we didn’t want.

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The “Flight of Vermouth” went for $13. It was sweeter and heavier than wine, going from heavy to light with the rose to the white. Cocchi rosa, cocchi red, and vya extra dry. The centre was the richest of our trio, and my favourite. Each vermouth made a great accompaniment to the slices of salted cheese that they came with, and the bowl of olives we had ordered.

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And the “Flight of Amari” for $15 made a great dessert. Amaro Montenegro, cynar, and limoncello. They were refreshing with the typical alcohol after burn. The first was the lightest, like biscotti with a sweet vanilla flavour. The middle one was smokey like cigarettes, with the acrid after taste of heavily distilled vodka. We liked the last one the most, it was like lemon flavoured vodka, with a mild flavour to start that grows stronger the more you drink.

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I love an interesting washroom, and here they have two individual stalls worth documenting. Both spray painted in vivid graffiti style art. One the black and white backdrop for their mascot pig in apron with covered serving tray. The other, a mish mash of colour and words I had difficultly making out, but still appreciated.

 

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.
All in all, the drinks were just as rich as the food, and a little too much together, but there were no regrets. Everything was a new and worth while experience for us. A menu worth visiting more of. And maybe next time we can actually make it into the lounge for happy hour. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

PRONTO
3473 Cambie Street Vancouver BC, V5Z 2W7
604-722-9331
prontocaffe.ca
Pronto Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Rain or Shine Ice cream

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The newest location of popular, local, small batch ice creamery: “Rain or Shine” is on west Cambie. And there is no surprise to see that they are just as busy as their original shop on West 4th. Though with its larger space here, and all its additional seating, the wait doesn’t look so long and the room doesn’t feel so cramped. Good thing, as I don’t like walking and eating ice cream, and we were able to grab seats at one of their share style tables. After all having to walk while eating from a cone or cup takes away from your cool treat.

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Like their West 4th location, here on Cambie, they too had an iconic purple cow’s bust mounted on the wall. Its claim to fame: the fact it sports an upside down ice cream cone on its forehead. The cow stared contently at an equally decorative and equally eye catching sun, mounted across the room. Maybe it was the reason why the ice cream on the cow’s head was melting? The points of the sun were carefully arranged cones sans ice cream; and its centre, a grassy clump rimmed by yellow.

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Towards the front of the shop is a section of wall, papered in raining ice cream cones. Wallpaper only an ice cream shop can pull off. And just above it, a make shift chandelier, shining light through several over turned glass milk bottles. And above the check out counter was an arrangement of filled and empty honey combs purely for decor purposes. It seems they are very committed to their all natural milk and honey theme.

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The line grew out the door this balmy evening. From the end you have to squint to see the menu behind the counter. A menu of labels pinned. The permanent listing was printed in “times news roman” and their “seasonal flings” we’re written in purple washable marker. “The keepers” included chocolate, vanilla, salted caramel, coffee toffee, London fog, balsamic blueberry, peanut butter, and cracked mint. For spring they had rhubarb ginger streusel, rosemary olive oil with candied pine nuts, malted milk chocolate honey comb, and Powell street brewery dive bomb porter. For the vegans there was a coconut chocolate chunk and a cucumber lime sorbet. Similar to their original location, they too offer ice cream flights: 4 flavours for $9; and they too celebrate taco Tuesdays: where the traditional waffle cone is moulded in to the shape of a taco shell then filled with ice cream, whipped cream, and toppings. Such toppings include hot fudge sauce, warm caramel sauce, buckwheat honey, seasonal berry compote, toffee brittle, seasonal olive oil, balsamic reduction, and candied hazelnuts. Half the fun is reading all their ice cream, sundae, and milkshake options and going back and forth on what you want.

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You are able to ask for samples. Trying potential flavour choices or ones you would never otherwise order. They use each wooden scoop to its fullest potential, doling out two different flavours on each of its flat ends. I feel too greedy to ever try more than two. After making your choice you head over to the register on the left. If you ordered a cone and need both hands to pay, they have you covered. Rest your pointed treat in their wooden block a while. This is a very clever idea born out of necessity.

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I sampled a few of the seasonal options, and although I appreciated their complexity of flavours, not enough so for a full serving. I find it all too sweet and instead resorted to getting “London Fog”, my usual fall back. Where you get the light creamy tea taste without the texture of its leaves.

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I was however excited to be dessert-ing with my favourite vegan today, to see how she weighed their dairy free options. Having never had real ice cream made with cow’s milk, I wondered how she would deem this simulation made with coconut milk. She had the “Vegan yumaste”, their vegan sundae option. Two scoops of coconut chocolate chunk ice cream, with their seasonal berry compote and candied hazelnut. No whipped cream, but plenty of chocolate, no sprinkles but fresh berries and crunchy nuts were just as good. As an expert on coconut based ice cream, she found her first taste of any sundae good. Though did find m the salty and sweet nuts took away from the lighter cream. She also didn’t like their crunch, founding each nut too large and too distracting from the creamy churned coconut milk. If her scooping the cup clean is any indication, I think it is fair to say their vegan ice cream is delicious.

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My other guest was excited to have their “Malted milk chocolate honey comb”, a naturally sweetened ice cream littered with chocolate and honey comb candy chunks and bits. Its tastes reminded me a lot of “Malteasers”, those chocolate balls with milk chocolate shells and malt honeycomb centres. Though I don’t think they used actual “Malteasers”, it just tasted like they did.

 

Sadly my cone was the only one to taste burnt. But we all made the mistake of getting cones tonight. Cones that we were forced to finish under the gun, due to leaky bottoms. We were forced to alternate from licking ice cream from the top and sucking melted cream from the hole at the bottom. Sticky fingers and many crumpled pieces of tissue later, a few of us finished our edible containers. I instead, sucked all the ice cream out and toss the rest of cone out. I like the thought of being able to eat everything and having some crunch to your iced cream. Though not at the loss of being a mess and not enjoying a treat meant to be savoured.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
All natural ice cream in unique flavours, what is there not to like? Though truthfully I haven’t met an ice cream I didn’t like and one I couldn’t finish. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

RAIN OR SHINE
3382 Cambie Street, Vancouver BC, V5Z2W5
604-876-9986
rainorshineicecream.com
Click to add a blog post for Rain or Shine Ice Cream on Zomato

Seasons in the Park

A Vancouver only view to compliment the BC focused cuisine~ IMG_7191IMG_7254 Celebrating my birth early, my friends know there is an added pressure in finding the best venue for a food blogger to review, as she attempts to enjoy her aging. And today they choose well. A destination I wouldn’t otherwise consider, in an amazing setting. IMG_7230IMG_7192 Located within Queen Elizabeth Park you get a view with your meal. Though getting to, then finding parking in the lot was a challenge you needed to over come first. I strongly recommend paying for the $8 valet located right up front. Not only for ease, but for its value. Parking in the general lot is $6.50 for 2 hours. We stayed for 3. IMG_7228IMG_7198 The restaurant was elegantly dressed with its own cultivated garden by the entrance out front. Rustic in wood and metal it had the feel of a woodsy cabin with the class of a fine hotel. White table cloths, tea lights for ambience, and a vaulted skylight feature over a cast iron chandelier. There was no art hanging, no decorations scattered, nothing to take away from the wall to wall breath taking view. Given the restaurant’s elevation, the windows and what lay after them, the view would be the only thing you really wanted to admire. From our window seat we overlooked the well groom and tediously cultivated gardens, and in the distance the city’s skyline as the sun set over the horizon. IMG_7196IMG_7199 The servers were as professional as the setting required. Each dressed in a uniform white button up and red straight bottom tie, held in place with a bent fork tie clip. Our server was informative, she was able to make suggestions and offer insights on the menu and when my guest’s cocktail order was missed she quickly found an ideal resolution. IMG_7220IMG_7221 Sangria, with red wine and fresh pressed fruit juices. This beverage failed to come after the order. We waited long after our appetizers and only called it to our server’s attention a little while before our entrees arrived. In a hurry she brought it out personally, mentioning without prompt that she had taken it off our bill for the inconvenience waiting for it had caused. All this without asking, and this because she wanted our dining experience to be the best. IMG_7202IMG_7203 Complimentary bread with labeled butter. There is something novel about your chunks of butter coming with its own name tag. IMG_7204IMG_7207 “Beef Carpaccio with shaved grana padano, capers, and dijonnaise”. The thin slices of meat broke into shreds with every attempt to serve ourselves. I wondered how our chef got everything on the plate in the first place. The cheese overpowered with its aged smokiness and its thicker cut texture, when taken in conjunction with the carpaccio. With a barely there bite, we found the appetizer more filling when eaten with our leftover bread. IMG_7208IMG_7210 “Truffled Mushroom Soup”. This was a chunkier than expected bowl of soup. With its minced texture and the large pieces of mushroom embedded this ate more like a starter, definitely as grainy as it looked. The flavour was not your Campbell’s variety of soup, this brew was earthier with a distinctive truffle oil taste. IMG_7217IMG_7219 “Mediterranean Syle Big Salad” with quinoa, braised savoy cabbage, boiled egg, tomato, cucumber, and feta cheese; drizzled in a lemon & oregano dressing. For a quinoa based salad it felt like there was not enough of it, with the cabbage over pickled in salt being the most stand out element. My guest found her salad too dressed, preferring a more gentle coating. The oils made the cabbage limp and took crunch away from the cucumber. We like the idea of it more than its actual execution. IMG_7211IMG_7212 “Seafood Linguine Carbonara” with bacon, prawns, snapper, and scallops. A very BC dish. Well flavoured in a thick and creamy sauce, heightened with the subtle tang of tomato, rich flavour that coated every el dente noodle. The scallops were large, the fish had a perfectly crisped skin, and the smokiness of the bacon really brought it all together. Despite this being a carbohydrate full entree you finished it without any guilt, it was that good. IMG_7213IMG_7215 “10oz Prime New York Strip loin”. This was a hefty sized steak. Prepared over their wood fire grill you could taste the difference the scent of smoke made. Though the overall flavour was mild and things could have used the addition of more spice, even a sauce or smear to dip in to. IMG_7227IMG_7224 This was the special of the night, similar in preparation to the salmon option on the regular menu, but done with a wild Sockeye salmon instead. The fish was grilled then topped with a fresh fruit salad of mango and tomatoes; then served together with a side of green beans and a roasted tomato over quinoa. This special was $3 more than their regular fish entree, and it came with more sides. Described by our server as a fresher, pinker, and softer fish; it easily flaked off in chunks, its gentle nature partnered well with the sweetness of the mango. Though I would have liked a cream based sauce along with it to lend a different flavour to the distinct salmon taste. The beans were crisp, the tomato was smokey, and the quinoa made for the ideal base in this healthier dish. IMG_7249IMG_7246 Would I come back? – Yes. Would I line up for it? – No. Would I recommend it? – No. Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes. Our meal was delicious, the food was prepared well and those serving it performed even better. Though as good as everything was there was nothing distinct about it. You can taste the quality, but nothing stood out. There was nothing on the menu that had you declaring, “I need to come back just for this”. It was classic Pacific Northwest cuisine capitalizing on our abundant seafood and our amazing wild and fresh produce. A common trend in newer farm to table, use organic ingredients only bistros and cafés. Though realistically you are here for the spectacular view more than the cuisine accompanying it . A wonderful place for tourists and nature enthusiastic alike. A wonderful place to just stop and take it all in. Don’t deny your cravings. IMG_7247IMG_7248 SEASONS IN THE PARK Queen Elizabeth Park W 33rd Ave & Cambie Street, Vancouver BC, V5Y2M5 604-874-8008 vancouverdine.com/seasons-park Seasons in the Park on Urbanspoon

Corner 23

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We were looking for a quiet after dinner spot to unwind and chat without interruption. Immediately a bubble tea shop stood out as an ideal location. Most are known for being opening later, and few allow guests to linger well after last call; so long as a beverage continues to be nursed. Today, this was my guest’s choice. A restaurant with an accurately descriptive name. Located on the corner of Cambie and 23rd. This late night bubble tea place was bustling with large groups and steady with single diners in for a later meal. Laughter and chatter could be heard over the faint sounds of Chinese and North American pop playing overhead.

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The space was light hearted with soft bulbs and heavy with floral elements. It all looked very pretty if you can get past the clutter of it all. Paper lanterns patterned with flowers in bloom, hung down from the indented ceiling. Pale white cherry blossoms with pink centres and lush green leaves lived as a pattern on the frosted glass, separating dining sections from left and right. And more pink petaled flowers continue on a backdrop of red wallpaper that accented a strip along the right wall. Though it was the live orchids, potted plants and watered spiralling bamboo, that gave the place a breath of real freshness. 

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The hard wood floors, dark tables with black and white chairs kept the place neat and uniform. Towards the back, landed their drink bar. A set up done more practically than for aesthetics. The counter was home to a rainbow of spirally straws and others wrapped in plastic, a dish of fresh fruits that would become juice, and jugs of water and hot tea used for refills. A clutter that sat before their back lit “Corner 23” sign in blue and white.

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There was the constant mummer of noise. The dinging of bells to symbolize food was up, the ratting of ice cubes in bubble teas being mixed in the electronic shaker, the crushing of ice, the clanging of change, the click clacking of chopsticks, and the conversations of over 20 tables trying to talk over one another. This was not the quite place for conversation as we had hoped. And no one else seemed to mind.

They accept cash only, as reminded at the front door, printed on the menu’s cover, and stuck up in paper around the restaurant.

The five employees working tonight were certainly necessary. They dressed all in black and wore collared shirts with their name and logo on the front breast pocket and across their upper backs. They kept busy taking orders, mixing drinks, serving plates, busing tables, and making change. Not one stood idle, with always something to prep, clean or tidy. They worked with furious determination and furrowed brows. Effective, efficient, fast, if not friendly.

The menu was a tad condensed compared to other Taiwanese style bubble tea places or Hong Kong style cafés. Arranged by the usual listing of snacks, noodles, fried rice, and set meals; it was still an overwhelming array to go through. I allowed my guest to choose what we’d share. It gave me a chance to venture from my usual order of fried popcorn chicken and beef noodle soup. Though in hind sight I had was good, but no where near the caliber of my favourites.

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“Mango coconut milk tea” with half pearls and half coconut jelly. Made with actual coconut milk, each sip was a drink of cream. Thick and rich it had the texture of a milkshake with the lightness of blended juice. Tropical sweetness with mango and fresh coconut-y chewiness with the addition of coconut jelly. Although a little on the sweeter side, I will be getting this again. “Vanilla coffee milk tea” with grass jelly. A more simple beverage, this one came with a strong coffee taste and a missing vanilla accent. As a non coffee drinker I could have used more syrup for an added dessert like sweetness. The grass jelly was definitely for texture rather than taste.

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We wondered what factors were considered when bubble tea places decided to serve their drinks in either reusable to-stay glasses, or in sealed plastic to-go cups. Despite our intention to sit and enjoy dinner we still had our beverages prepared for travel. Though our visit was during peak dinner time and bubble tea preparation became a seamless procession. Though towards 10pm we did see tall glasses filled to the brim come up to the counter, then served at tables.

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“Deep fried oyster”. I don’t know why I expected this to be fried in shell. Given the amount of oyster nuggets heaped on the plate, and the price we were asked to pay, I assume these were purchased frozen. Heavily battered they had a nice crunchy texture that hid the tough chew of the shellfish and the grittiness from the embedded bits of sand well. The sweet and spicy chilli dipping sauce on the side was what really gave it its pop of flavour.

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Each set meal came with rice and three sides: cream corn, steamed garlic broccoli, and chilled seaweed. It was nice to have the variety. They weren’t anything special and tasted as they look, but they offered a change when needed. “Deep fried chicken thigh”. Similar in spice and heavy peppering as the common Taiwanese popcorn chicken, I felt familiar with its flavour profile. The chicken was cooked to a juicy clear with a lightly battered, evenly crisped skin. Though as an entree to have with rice it lacked flavour. 

 

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“Eggplant and pork in a hot garlic sauce”. Firm pieces of eggplant that held its shape, and didn’t break down into a pile of mush; something common that usually has me deterring from it in the first place. Heavily seasoned with generous portions of ground pork I surprisingly found this my favourite dish of the two. 

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On another night, with the same guest, we came in just for bubble tea. Like my guest, many patrons come for the mixed teas and blended juice, and do not feel the need add in any tapioca bubbles. He ordered the “kiwi green tea”. Given its clear colour and smooth drink this was a pre-flavoured tea. A little tart. Other than its colour I tasted no connection to the kiwi fruit. Originally I requested a half portion of pearls and half of coconut jelly, only to be informed that they have had a busy night and no longer had any more tapioca pearls on site. So I got my “Papaya milk tea” with all coconut jelly. This over my only other option of pudding or grass jelly.


Interestingly, one of the two women’s washroom stall has a full length mirror on its wall, in the actual stall. An interesting design I thought, as I avoided eye contact with myself, whilst doing my business.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
As far as bubble tea places go, this one was pretty generic. The drinks were average. They tasted as expected and were like any that would could get else were. Though bonus points given for their own branded cup seals. The food was average at best. Satisfying, but nothing you needed to have again or would ever crave for in the future. The menu listed common Taiwanese fare and read only familiar beverages. Nothing jumped out as being any different or location specific. Another one of those cases where you appreciate it for being the only one in the area, as it simply fills a need. For that reason, its easy free parking nearby, and it’s lovely decor I will visit again. Don’t deny your cravings. 

 

CORNER 23
4008 Cambie Street, Vancouver BC, V5Y2H5
604-879-8815
Corner 23 萬巒豬腳 on Urbanspoon

Soho Tea Room

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Every dinner attempt made has been thwarted by lengthly waits. I guess being one of the only bubble tea places that serves alcohol with their fruit and tapioca makes them quite popular. So today when I found myself on south Cambie, looking for a snack in between lunch and dinner, it was an opportune time to visit.

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The decor was particularly chic for a bubble tea place. New enough to warrant me asking if they had recently under gone renovations. This was not the case, they have only been open for a year and a half. Though everything remained in tact. Counters still held their shiny waxed surfaces, the paint on the walls still looked fresh, and the furniture remained with pointed corners and smooth edges. As a whole the restaurant was an assortment mix of elements. A light wood planked wall on one end, beige wallpaper pattern in white on the other, an artificial stone wall towards the back, and two blackboards that held menu specials in coloured chalk. The counters were surfaced with granite, and a screen embedded in the front allowed servers to place orders through touch. There wasn’t much in decor pieces: empty white wired bird cages sat by the door, and terrariums with greenery hung down from the ledge of each front window. Each glass terrarium varied in size from its neighbour. Ovals, circular orbs, tear drops, and cylinders shaped like oversized pills.

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A sign asked us to wait be seated just behind the counter. Though the visibility there was limited and the flailing of my arms was required. We were given one of the wooden tables on either ends of the room. Such tables were separated by booths and a decorative partition, creating a tad more intimacy.

The regular menu was a definitely a page turner between hotpots, set meals, lunch specials, snacks, toast desserts, chef specials, mixed grills, east and west entrees, vegetarian options, set noodle soups, and D.Y.I. fish soup; there was a lot to go over. This isn’t even including the drinks: black tea, green tea, milk tea, flower tea, slushes, special blended drinks, Italian soda, smoothies, fresh tofu drinks, fresh milky drinks, special creations, drinks using fresh fruit, coffee, hong style tea, and iced dessert drinks. You couldn’t try it all if you wanted. Together food and beverages spanned across 17 pages of a multi coloured menu. I appreciated the options and their ability to execute them all a whim, but as a patron I was overwhelmed by flipping through them. There were hardly any pictures, no descriptions, no suggestions. How was I to weed through it all? There were so many specials to read through, so many add ons to consider, and so many substitutions to be had. So we didn’t. We didn’t bother, we stuck to the one page laminated lunch special list. I feel it is very typical of Asian places to try to be more for everyone. A strategy to earn more visits and as a consequence more profits? Though something can be said for less is more, and taking the time to perfect the few you want to invest most in. I can only imagine their cost to stock all the ingredients and the condition of their back of house to store it all.

The slower pace today came with a special add on menu, as mentioned above. Free beverages with certain appetizers and desserts between 2-5:30pm and from 9pm to close. Complimentary hot drinks, cold for 50 cents more, and make it a bubble tea for $2 more. I guess 50 cents is the cost of the ice cubes needed to chill your hot tea to cold. Either way the discount was still advantageous.

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Hong Kong style “Coffee tea” and “Milk tea”. What could have been complimentary with our meal cost us 50 cents more per plastic glass to have them cold. Coffee tea was just that, a blended mix of the two with cream.

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“Roti canai bread”, with two pieces. The roti was good but not authentic. Each breaded fold was greasy, but light and flaky. The curry was the sweeter South East Asian yellow variety. It only had the slightest tickle of spice.

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On the one page menu I appreciated the listing of the time it takes to prepare their various specialty desserts. All of ours did come quicker, but the warning was considerate. The 25 minute “Honey toast box”. We choose strawberry as our flavour of choice, over chocolate, caramel, or condense milk. This was certainly a feast for the eyes. The dessert was a hollowed out end of a white bread loaf. The inners were cut into even cubes, spread with butter, sprinkled with sugar, and rebuilt back into its original boxy form. The additional condiments meant every morsel had flavour. A good thing as the strawberry syrup and ice cream were only present on the immediate surface. The perfectly scooped vanilla balls on hot toast, melted into cream and set forth steam. We felt the extra toppings were only for show, they added no specific flavours, though the fruit loops cereal was over powering. The dessert as a whole was an overkill in sweetness. More show and fluff than a decadent dessert. We left this one incomplete. This dessert had more bread then most sandwich lunch combos.

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“Mini wooden bucket tofu soya dessert”. I had the option of having this hot or cold, but choose the later as I was informed it is the most common way to have it. I am not going to lie, I very much so ordered this for the bucket. Being intrigued by its picture and the vessel it would be served in. The tofu was firm and plentiful, existing all the way down the length of the bucket. It was light and creamy like a solid yogurt, with an enjoyable slurp-able texture. With the dessert you are given a much needed mini jug of simple syrup. It gives an otherwise plain dessert it’s only form of sweetness. Having it served separately allows you the ability to select your desired sugar levels.

When needed it was hard to get the notice from either of the two servers working front of house today. They weren’t bound to any one section and were willing to help anyone who caught their attention. But they weren’t check in on your meal, or asking if you are in need of anything else. On several occasions I was forced to remove myself from my meal and my guests to hunt down some help.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes/No. Would I recommend it? – Yes/No.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes/No.
Although the food was average, there is just so much of it available for tasting that I cannot conclude judgement after only one visit. This one needs subsequent dinners, if I can get in without an hour plus wait on the sidewalk out front. We didn’t try any of their savoury dishes, no noodle soups, or fried popcorn chicken, none of their blended fruit drinks, or their even a sip of their speciality alcoholic bubble teas. My next try will have be on a weekday at the beginning of the week, for sweet cocktail with pearls and coconut jelly. What a twist. Don’t deny your cravings.

SOHO TEA ROOM
3466 Cambie Street, Vancouver BC, V5Y2B1
604-873-3686
sohotearoom.com
Soho Tea Room on Urbanspoon

Cafe Gloucester

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Late night hunger brought us to Cambie Street. Though this wasn’t our first choice, but as is was the only one choice on the block with no wait list and the after 11pm operating hours we required, here we were settling down.

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This was your run-of-the-mill Hong Kong style cafe. Its untraditional Chinese name, a direct translation from its Cantonese title; word for word, sound for sound (or so said my guest). The restaurant was a large space with a very simple and very 80’s look. Patterned booths checkered with washed out colours and a multitude of squiggles, stripes, and sun shine patches. A busy look, similar in style to the artwork framed above. Other than that, the space was a series of lighter coloured tables and chairs, with enough barriers and corners to give patrons selective privacy and seclusion to accompany their meal.

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Sorting through the three menus that we were given, one of my guest announced her distain over its quantity. Asian places that give you several menus, making note of all their crazy combos, and calling attention to all their deals; leaving you unsure of what you want. Here you chose from options under soup, salad, sizzling plates, vegi counter, Donburi don, spaghetti counter, Japanese noodles, western favourites, baked rice, Asian noodles in soup, fried rice, fired noodles, steam rice with topping, curry with rice, snacks, sandwich, desserts. Sometimes less is more.

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“Japanese green milk tea with pearls”. Surprisingly served in a to-go up. Pretty standard.

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Almond milk tea in both the cold and hot versions. This was just tea made with almond milk. In both servings it had a unappealing grainy texture.

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Combo: “Choice of two items with rice for $10.99”, served with a bowl of their daily Chinese soup. The choices are two out of three meaty possibilities. My guest requested the Hainanese chicken and BBQ pork over the duck. They originally brought out the wrong special, including the duck instead of pork. And only when we were about to pay did we realize they forgot her soup. Though looking at the receipt we realize the drink she ordered came at a less expensive cost. The BBQ pork wasn’t fatty enough, the thin slices quickly dried out and was tough to chew through. I found the Hainanese chicken pretty good. The meat tender, the flavours on point, exactly as expected. Though not quite at the caliber others have declared this to be. Not the best Hainanese chicken in town, but definitely one of the most authentic destinations for it.

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“House special spaghetti”. In typical Chinese fashion a sunny side up fried egg is perched on top. You break into it and the yolk runs and coats the gently tomato kissed noodles. This is not your usual thick and beefy sour tomato sauce, but a sweeter one made with ketchup and a whole different line up of ingredients. You wouldn’t find thick slices of onions, shreds of carrots, and ham in traditional Italian pasta. Then add mushrooms, chicken, and that egg and you have a one of a kind Asian adaptation on spaghetti. Here it dawns on me that I grew up eating a similar sweet spaghetti cooked by my mom. My guests declared this to be very average, I concurred. Mild flavours with too much going on. A dish completely contrasting the simple and flavour focused principles traditional to Italian cuisine. Call it fusion I guess.

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“Taiwanese beef brisket on rice”. The menu listed two different versions. It had me questioning what the differences between the Taiwanese and the non Taiwanese versions were. I took a gamble on the former, hoping it was the one I had in mind. A gamble I lost. The entree was comprised of more onion than beef. A pile I weeded through before I started eating. The sauce was an odd mix of sweet and sour. It held an initial unusual sour note and ended in a satisfying spice down the throat. It reminded us more of Thai cuisine with the spices used.

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“Taiwanese seafood and mushroom bread box”. I was intrigued by its name alone. Food served in a box made out of bread, just like the soup bowl, a great way to cut down on dishes to wash by eating it. When I asked, the server suggested this version over the chicken one. The bland colour of the dish was disappointing when compared to its photographed, in menu version. Though having said that, this was the most tastiest of all the dishes that we had ordered.

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
We all left disappointed. The food and facilities left us with nothing memorable to take away from, nothing to remember our experience by. The service was minimal and despite mistakes being made on our order there were no apologies or acknowledgement that came after. Though with such an extensive menu I am sure, should we decide to return and run through the gauntlet, we could find something we’d like more than what we had. Though we did order what most appealed to us tonight. Don’t deny your cravings.

CAFE GLOUCESTER
3338 Cambie Street, Vancouver BC, V5Z2W5
604-873-3338
Cafe Gloucester 告羅士打餐廳 on Urbanspoon

U and I Thai

IMG_8179 IMG_8180One of my guests was specifically craving Thai ice tea, so we found ourselves at “U and I Thai” tonight. This dressed up Thai restaurant is located on the busy street of Cambie, surrounded by many other restaurants. Parking is easy enough, with roll of meters out front and more across the street. Walking up to the restaurant I was intrigued by their widow sticker, labelling themselves as “fine dining”. This would be something I wanted to assess for myself.

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The interior was rich in colour with the light scent of citrus in the air. Deep red and silver patterned booths and satin burgundy drapes gave the darken room the perfect bursts of colour. Buddha statues, sculptures of Thai minstrels, and craved urns greeted you at the door. Wood carvings done in two dimensional pieces adorned opposite walls. A couple were of cross legged Buddhas. The others, equally intricate carved shapes and spirals, three in a row. Most impressive was the large stone Buddha bust that sat pristine in the alcove of a red painted wall. It looked like the room was design and constructed just to showcase this featured piece. Just above and before it was a heavy chandelier that centered the room. It accented things with its golden candled glow and dangling crystals, all held together with brass arms. At the very back of the restaurant, just before the kitchen was a wall displaying two clocks. Together they showcase the difference in time between here and Thailand. Right below them hung canvas printed images of their selection of tropical drinks. Greenery came in the form of multicoloured orchids in groups, and a selection of floral in jars on tables.

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The bar was located in the corner. It was stocked well with bottles for cocktails and surrounded by unseated high tops. The dining room was spacious, it allowed for the seating of larger parties with enough nooks and crannies to give couples some privacy. Our reservation gave us a four top by the window.

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The servers were dressed in traditional Thai wear, this and their accents added to the authenticity of the place. I was approached with a bowed greeting and showed to our reserved table. Each of the three servers wore bold coloured skirts or shorts patterned in gold. These matched their satin-like tops accented with a textured scarf across one shoulder. The whole outfit was held together with bold gold and crystal necklaces and matching wide waisted belts. They were dressed too well to be serving the lot of us. The bartender was in a Royal blue top and rose coloured pants that cut off at the knees, like Aladdin or genie style. She took my order for a cocktail, made it, and came back to gauge what I thought of it. And on each approach she stepped forward with a slight head bow and the nodding of palmed hands, clasped together in prayer. Very official. The other two servers were as attentive, checking in on the food or if we needed more. They didn’t care that you weren’t in their section, and helped whenever and wherever needed. Be it bussing dishes or clearing tables.

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I only ordered this because it was named the “Asian Sensation”. A sweet tropical cocktail with 2oz Malibu rum, pineapple juice, and sprite. Definitely classified as a girly drink with no hint or burn of alcohol.

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“Thai ice tea”. This drink is the sole reason why we were here. It is the Thai version of a sweetened red tea. It uses evaporated milk instead of regular milk. My guest commented that if she goes to any Thai place and they don’t have this drink, she would honestly walk out. After a sip I agreed it was that good. Similar to the Hong Kong style ice tea, though with a zestier tea taste. I preferred this.

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She even ordered one to go, but without take out cups, had hers in a plastic soup bowl.

Their menu and website advertises that the preparation of all their dishes comes with the “freshest of ingredients, the finest cuts of meats and only the most authentic of Thai spices and herbs”. Considering the meal we had I would deem them as fine Thai cuisine, this is the conclusion when comparing it to all the Thai that I have had prior to. Also, I appreciated their ability to personalize each dish to the desired level of spiciness. A good sign that plates were definitely made to order.

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“Chicken or Pork Satay”. Made with fresh chicken marinated in Thai spices and coconut milk. Served with a traditional peanut sauce and a tangy cucumber relish. The meat was fairly juicy for white chicken breast. Best eaten right away, it got tougher the more it was allowed to cool. Good, but no where near the best I have had. The peanut sauce was the best part, a chunky and savoury sauce with a luxurious peanut buttery taste. The pickled cucumber was sweetened with honey, its thick syrupiness helped to cut into the richness of everything else. It made for a great taste rejuvenator in between assorted bites.

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“Stuffed Chicken Wings”. Seeing something similar on an episode of “Eat street” I insisted on ordering chicken wings stuffed with other ingredients. These were marinated chicken stuffed with vermicelli & Thai spices. Then served with a homemade Plum and chilli sauce. I wish these wings were served whole, instead of being chopped up into threes, it would have made for a better presentation. The spices came prominent in the form of an herby taste. And the noodle gave things a chewier texture. Though together it all tasted bland and dry like day old meatloaf. The dish needed the sweet and salty plum sauce to perk it up. And I just didn’t get enough of that crispy wing texture that I expected.

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“Tofu with Thai Basil”. A stir-fried tofu dish with onions, bell peppers, green beans, mushrooms, carrots, cabbage, garlic, spices and thai basil. Each chopped up bit came evenly coated in this savoury sauce. I enjoyed the crispy green beans the most. A solid vegetable dish, good as a side, but missing that kick to have it as a main. Best when eaten with a protein and rice.

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“Red Curry Duck with Lychee”. This one came highly recommended by those who have been. Braised duck with lychee fruit, light red curry paste, coconut milk, bell peppers, bamboo shoots and fresh Thai basil. Served with your choice of rice in either jasmine or coconut. We got the coconut, liking the idea of a creamier rice, and planning on the fact that it would help balance out the chilli flavour in the medium spicy curry. A spiciness level we chose when asked how we liked things. The duck tasted like chicken, we just didn’t get any of that usual rich flavour indicative of duck. Especially as the drier pieces failed to absorb any of the sweetened curry sauce. And although there were lychees in the mix, there was not enough to make a difference. I didn’t get any of the lychee sweetness I expected and wanted.

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“Authentic Pad Thai”. Rice noodles stir fried with shrimp, egg, bean sprouts, and palm sugar, in a Tamarind sauce. Served with ground peanuts, chilli powder, banana flowers, garlic chives, and fresh lime. We choose shrimp as our protein after given the option of it, chicken, or beef. There was a generous amount of everything in the bowl. All clearly displayed before you had to mix things up. The noodles remained moist in its own broth, pooled at the bottom. A sweeter than usual taste that came through despite the level of hot spices present. The carrot strands, bean sprouts, and crushed peanuts were kept separate to be able to keep their crunchy texture. A texture that helped with the overall mushiness of the liquid soaked noodles. As I recall most pad thai dishes are dry, this one was definitely a twist all their own. One of my guests, having been here on several occasions and during each has ordered this, commented that this is just how they make it.

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With the bill came really bad milky mint Thai candy. With the creaminess and texture of milk and the strong taste of peppermint,

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
I like the area, and don’t know why I don’t venture down here to dine more often. The menu is extensive leaving me with much more that I wanted to try, “jumbo prawns in a blanket”, “fresh garden roll with duck”, “drunken noodles”, “swimming Rama”, and “jungle curry”. Not to mention their desserts, young coconut or mango creme burlee and deep fried ice cream. All the above are worthy of my interest and a revisit from me. Therefore if I had a craving for Thai and was told there would be a wait of 30 minutes I would definitely hang tight for a seat here. The food is good, with slight variations and unique twists. It is not the best Thai I have ever had, but there are enough to keep and hold my intrigue. Don’t deny your cravings

U & I THAI
3364 Cambie, Vancouver BC, V5Y 2A1
604-875-6999
uandithai.com
U and I Thai on Urbanspoon

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