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Mr. Japanese Curry

Ever since I had my first taste of curry in Japan, I have been obsessed. The mix of sweet and creamy with a little heat, is unlike any other of its kind. So when I learned of a new little spot in Vancouver offering Japanese curry, I wanted to not only try their offerings, but support this new restaurant venture as well. A restaurant trying to make a name for themselves in this unprecedented time. Opening just before the onset of Covid-19, in a shop that use to host donairs.

The name informs you of exactly what you will be getting. And if there is any doubt, you can smell what’s cooking a block away, or take a gander at the collection of detailed plastic curry on display, in the front window. During my visit their food was only available for take out. A soft opening and test run, accepting orders online, and opting for the delivery of them.

Mr. Japanese Curry is dedicated to providing authentic homemade curry in either beef, chicken, or vegan sauces. Each option also includes a bevy of toppings to choose from, to best customize each plate to your tastes. Every serving comes with their Super Premium Short Grain Koshihikari white rice and a sprinkle of fried onions. Having tried one in each category and being able to see and taste the difference between all three, I highly recommend doing the same. Trying all the different curry sauces to get the full experience, and finding the one you like the best is half the fun. Each is a recipe unique to the restaurant, learned from food technicians in Japan.

Ordering is easy off the overhead menu, with its coloured photos. And if and when dining in reopens, you are able to serve yourself at their cutlery and drink station.

The following is what we had, in the order they came up, starting with their vegan curry. They are proud to offer a tasty plant based curry, in collaboration with the popular and very local “Vegan Pudding Co.”. This was a rich and creamy curry despite the lack of milk products being used. Served wonderfully with fried mashed Japanese pumpkin patties. It was delicious, you couldn’t tell that this was made without cream or butter, nor did it have the overwhelming flavour of coconut milk. The sauce is so tasty that you need only to enjoy it with their perfectly prepared rice. And the fried onion sprinkle offers a nice little crunch in between. In actuality, you don’t want to fill up on rice, but it just goes so well with everything, that you don’t waste a single grain.

We continued to work our way up to heavier with a more flavourful curries with the “Tonkatsu Curry” next. This is their chicken based curry served with a breaded and deep fried pork cutlet, sliced up for easier consumption. This was a curry that was just as light as the vegan option above, but with very different savoury notes. In terms of flavour, this was my favourite of the three, the pork cutlet being the highlight. Each piece was tender and a little fatty for a juicer bite.

The heartiest of our three plates was their signature “Mr. Curry” platter. A beef curry that they referred to as “Stamina Curry”, served a piece of fried shrimp, thinly sliced pork belly in a homemade garlic sauce, a hard boiled egg, and melted cheese. There was plenty going on here to keep you interested. You could mix and match ingredients, curating the perfect bite. The crispy shrimp, the tender meat, the fragrant onions, and the creamy cheese sauce that pulled it all together. It has a stew-like quality to it: comforting and filling.

Overall, a great option for Japanese curry in a neighbourhood, offering something different in the area. Order all three because each is different and worth trying. Great as family food; or late night, drunk eating. This is a flavour I will crave again, and a hidden gem with nothing else like it in Vancouver.

Mr. Japanese Curry
446 W 8th Ave, Vancouver, BC V5Y 1N9
(604) 879-4400
mrjapanesecurry.com

ChiMec Fried Chicken & Burger Vancouver

During these uncertain times, one thing remains the same: the need for comfort. And for many that includes food. Foods that delight, foods that bring back memories, and foods that never seem to fail you. And for most fried chicken ticks off all the boxes. So when I new fried chicken place opens up in Vancouver, and will not be left behind.

Located on Denman Street, this little corner restaurant isn’t the most convenient stop for me. Although if you live downtown and are in the area, I do recommend stopping by to give them a try. I walked in thinking they did Korean style fried chicken, but the menu and mural of iconic artists, song writers, and influential leaders spoke otherwise.

They are currently only offering take out, with a 10% discount if you do. The menu hangs above the counter; similar in look and feel to that of a concession stand. It lists their signature burger, chicken pieces, chicken tenders, wings, sides, and drink. We came on the right day, because starting today they are running a promotion where if you spend $20 before tax you get a $10 gift card. And if you spend $30 and get a $20 gift card. We ended up getting enough for a $10 gift certificate, that I will be using towards their burger in the future. And there is no rush to redeem because it expires in October of this year, and may be by the time I return, I get to enjoy it in their space as a dine in meal.

We ended up getting a good collection of their menu to enjoy in a nearby park. Our order included a choice of sauces, pre-poured into individual dipping cups.

We started with their 3 piece chicken tenders and fried chicken and leg, only to get 6 of the former and 4 for the latter. The fried chicken caught me off guard. I was impressed by how crispy and juicy they were. I found it comparable to popular fried chicken chain, Churches; but with a more fine gauge crispy skin, with some of the juiciest dark meat I have ever had. I had liquid dripping of my chin as I slurped tender and flavourful meat. I naturally clean the bone of my chicken, and it would be hard to not with theses.

The chicken tenders on the other hand were very disappointing. It tasted frozen and flashed fried. They were bland and dried; a sensation only worsen by how great the chicken above was.

And sadly our choice of sauces did nothing to help or remedy this. They all weren’t as expected. Instead, a sweeter version of each. The honey mustard was the best out of the three we had. If given a second chance I would have simply asked for regular ketchup.

The plum sauce was not tart and tangy, like you know plum sauce to be. It was sweet, with a soap-like quality, my guest chimed in.

I expected the Korean sauce to be a spicy little number, with plenty of punchy and loud flavours. This was chunky and sweet like a jam, not necessarily something I want to pair with meat.

Overall the sauces were more enjoyable with the onion rings. The rings I had, had a great onion to batter ratio, perfect for those like me, who don’t actually like the texture of onion. It was a nice airy batter that retained its crunch, even after they cooled.

In short, ChiMec is a great addition to the fried chicken game if you like dark meat.

ChiMec
835 Denman St, Vancouver, BC V6G 2L7
(604) 331-0058
chimec-fried-chicken-burger.business.site

Chinatown BBQ, take out

When craving Chinese style barbecue meats there are two main options across the Lower Mainland. Two, that pull out ahead as the ones to visit. And if Richmond is too far of a drive out, Chinatown is the one to head towards.

From the exterior you wouldn’t think this is a restaurant, if not for reading the name and noting all the signs out front. You walk in and are greeted by an additional all glass facade. A stunning evergreen frame with gold lettering and red characters, illuminated by multiple glowing yellow lights. It all stands out against the black and white checkered floor, the green booths with red chairs, and the floral table tops stacked up for non-use. The walls speak to the restaurant’s history and authenticity, displaying a multitude of black and white portraits and Chinese paint brush paintings of waterways and landscape. I wish I knew about the decor sooner, as it would have gotten me down here earlier. But alas, all I could do now was appreciate what I may get to experience one day. Instead I shifted my attention to the glistening pieces of meat that hung in their internal window.

The set up is much like all the other Chinese BBQ places in the vicinity, but a lot more well maintained. It is a shame that this isn’t the view from the store front. I’d imagine they would get a lot more attention if that were the case. A showcase like this I would lure you in and close, as you watch meat juices and savoury oils drip and pool in a tray underneath.

You order off of their red and white menu, kept in place under the glass top of a table. A collection of dishes featuring their prized barbecue, served along side rice or now noodles.

Decor aside, the meat was less impressive. Maybe it was because by the time I got to it, it needed to be reheated. Or maybe because the pieces I got were not the best cuts. But overall I found myself thinking it dry and fatty. The duck was bland, which had me reaching for plum sauce. But there wasn’t any included, which meant I had to settle for Thai sweet chilli. And let me tell you, it isn’t the same. Similarly, the pork belly fell short of my expectations. There was more fat than meat. The skin lost its crunch, and the flavour of what little meat I got was more salty than smokey, as one would expect. However, having said that I did finish it all sucking meat from bone; because let’s face it, even the worse Chinese bbq is better than no Chinese bbq. And this is my no measure the worse. Good in a pinch, a easy meal on rice.

Chinatown BBQ
130 E Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1T3
(604) 428-2626
hinatownbbq.com

Smith’s Bagelry

I have had Turkish bagels once before: during my last visit to Toronto. I was drawn in by their larger shape and their heavily sesame seed encrusted exterior. So when I passed by “Smith’s Bagelry” on a whim, I had to go in. I knew what to expect, having seen their goods featured on a few foodie’s feeds.

You walk into the now empty shop (with the inability to stay and linger), and simply order based on sight. A collection of golden brown baked goods from a showcase kept safe behind plexiglass. Savoury and sweet buns spread across various platforms and plates, well signed with prices and a brief description.

Naturally I had to try their signature sesame bagel. A large loop with an insane amount of sesame seeds that leave you wondering how they stuck them all on there. And best of all, majority of them stayed on as I ate, whereas other bagel brands would loose their seeds to the floor. You can enjoy your twisted bagels with your choice of filling at home, or having them craft it into a sandwich for you here. A feta, tomato, and cucumber option, one with Montreal smoke meat, one with hummus, and even a vegan option with Daiya cheese. I went for the classic choice: the “Aspendos”. Smoked salmon, cream cheese, tomato, and red onion. All as fragrant and as fresh as the handmade bagel that they sat within.

Next, I went for one of their stuffed bagels. The same dough and sesame coating as the bagel above, but shaped like a stuffed football with your chosen filling. The options were olive and mozzarella, sausage and mozzarella, and Turkish sausage and mozzarella. I went for the familiarity of the former most. This was best when toasted for a crispy exterior and chewy centre. Although for the promise of being “stuffed”, it lacked filling in either of its pointed ends.

I had a better time with the blueberry stuffed soft bagel. A nice cakey dough with a dollop of blueberry at its centre. Just wish there was once agin more filling to enjoy with the dough edge to edge.

Overall a great treat. If you get the chance, it is one that I suggest you try. I definitely prefer their texture to that of any grocery store bagel brand.

Smith’s Bagelry
191 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC V5Y 1P4
(604) 423-3434

Dosanko, take out

As we move on to week 5 of quarantine and the need to shutter many non essential businesses, many popular restaurants are trying to find some routine in these forever evolving, uncertain times. Dosanko is one such establishment, who have remained open for take out the entire duration thus far. They have been offering limited menus, keeping what little staff they can employe. Slowly adding more to what’s available, which now includes seasonal offerings.

With cherry blossom season in full swing, Donsanko has brought back their Sakura onigri. A pink rice ball with the look and taste of cherry petals, a popular food trend and flavour in Japan during spring. Its photogenic and rare nature was enough to have me making the drive down. And since I was here, I decided to make lunch out of it. The following is from their lunch menu, in lunch-size portions.

The onigris are a great snack option. Hand moulded and kept solid, bundled in wax paper. Each labelled, each with perfectly prepared sushi rice and a strip of seaweed hiding the centre of your choosing.

The cherry blossom did not disappoint, it was as glamourous as I had hoped, and tasted better than I thought it would. It was bright with the freshness of the shisho leaves. There was a little tang, coupled with floral notes from the blossoms. But the real treat was the surprise filling that I discovered upon the first bite in. As much sweet crab meat as they could stuff, while maintaining the iconic triangular rice ball shape. I highly recommend this one.

I also grabbed a couple of their regular onigris, but sadly they didn’t measure up to the above. They were good, but with unseasoned rice and just the protein to carry them through, it fell flat.

The “Spicy Tuna” is lightly seared albacore tuna with their house made spicy mayo and nori bundled up. The fish is very mild, I wanted some more spice in this or some sauce for it. Plus some additional seasoning in the rice and some additional texture to maw through would have been nice. But overall, they do make a nice snack. The rice is served at the perfect temperate, so its best to eat it quick, before it gets too warm and sticky.

The “Zangi” is Chicken Karaage, aka fried chicken with a sesame sauce. Like the fish above, it left like it was lacking something. Additional seasonings and some kick to have the filling stand out against the moist rice. This was quick to fall apart, its flavour better suited in the sandwich below.

The “Tonkatsu & Curry Plate” gave me the bold flavours I was looking for. House made Japanese curry that wasn’t the sweet kind I was expecting. It was savoury and rich, with a slight spice; best balanced by the tangy pickled vegetables served on the side. Each element was perfectly prepared. The pork was tender with crispy breading, it had the right amount of fat for a nice juicy bite. I appreciated the extra ground meat in the sauce, enough for all the steamed rice. You could taste it over the curry that didn’t overpower.

But my favourite out of my order was the “Cheese Crusted Oyako Sandwich” with fried chicken, egg salad, greens and parmigiano reggiano cheese. All the deliciousness above, packed in tight between two buttery sweet slices of toast. Everything in perfect balance of one another. Crispy chicken, tangy sweet mayonnaise, and a luscious egg salad. I could do without the lettuce that became wilted by the time I got to it.

In short everything was so good that I want to go back again soon. Back to support them, and back to try more off of their comfort menu.

Dosanko Restaurant
566 Powell St Unit #100, Vancouver, BC V6A 1G9
(604) 251-2020

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mello doughnuts

I am under the employment of an essential service. This means while majority of the folks are staying home safe, myself and my coworkers are continuing our day to day to ensure that the world is still running during this precarious time. We aren’t health care workers, but the service we provide ensures that they and everyone else has the resources they need to do what they have to.

So as a blend between my own want to try and my desire to treat them, I travelled down to Chinatown for some Mello doughnuts. I have seen a lot about them online, so figured now was a great time to grab a dozen to share.

Like everywhere else that is still open, seating has been removed to better illustrate that they are not open for dine in, but take out only. Two clerks in masks man the empty store front. One at the counter doling out the doughnuts, the other in the kitchen bringing out a fresh batch.

The counter is still stocked as this is the sort of item you order with your eyes. Their full assortment on display, a few with name cards for easy identification. Plus a few other treats like cookies and cakes to round out their offerings.

I ordered a dozen to fit perfectly in their largest box. One of each and doubles of their two signature stuffed doughnuts for 75 cent to a $1 more. These were the strawberry short cake with fresh cream and the tiramisu with plenty of coca powder. Naturally I didn’t try all of the doughnuts, but I made sure to get a taste of both of these. I liked their doughnuts because they weren’t overly sweet. The three that I had were well done. I prefer them over anything I can get from any fast food chains.

The tiramisu lacked the coffee flavour you’d expect. It reminded me more of a mild chocolate, with a chalky finish due to the powdery topping.

The strawberry was stuffed full with luscious cream and fresh fruit. And the coarse sugar topping added a nice sort of crunch to the fluffy doughy round.

The rest of the doughnuts weren’t stuffed. It got its flavour from the frosting and toppings. Flavours like lemon curd, cookies and cream, vanilla, and a dark chocolate. I tried the green tea. It was the last one left when I stopped by, and I can see why. A wonderfully bright doughnut with plenty of green tea flavour, gently sweetened. This was my favourite of the three for its flavour.

In short, Mello is a great way to grab yourself and others a treat. For the lovers of doughnuts when store bought and fast food ones don’t do. Be warned, they are a cashless store, so debit and credit only.

mello
223 E Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6A 2T9
(604) 423-3556

Easter Weekend Brunch with Water St. Cafe

As we move on to week 5 of quarantine, many popular restaurants are finding their footing in this uncertain times. They are starting to open and/or expand their limited take out menus. Doing what they can to stay afloat, and keeping what little staff they can employed.

Water St. Cafe is one such establishment. This Gastown restaurant is keeping things on the brighter side, offering a whimsical Easter brunch box for purchase. $50 feeds 2 across 3 dishes with both a meat and vegetarian option. Both with sausages, French toast, quiche, breakfast potatoes, fruit, croissant, and Easter candy. Online they encourage sharing with the loved ones you are social distancing with, or to be virtually had with others through Zoom meeting, FaceTime chat, or Skype.

The box set is only available for pick up this long weekend Friday April 10 to Monday April 13, and they are asking for all orders to be placed 24 hours in advance, through their website. You select your pick up time, and simply grab and go.

And for those who need the appropriate drink to have with brunch, Water St. Cafe is also offering a mimosa kit to add on. Choose between 3 options with size and quality of bubble differences, to mix with orange juice.

Each purchase is in support of this independently owned and family-run restaurant. (As taken from the press release) “Chef and Co-Owner, Alan Tse, and the team work with local suppliers to bring in the freshest of products to showcase the best that BC has to offer. They strive to achieve what every small restaurant ought to be: committed to quality, service and value that keeps our guests coming back time and time again. Lead by Host and Co-Owner Eli Brennan, they create a true guest connection every visit, and offer the best hospitality experience in Vancouver.”

The following is their “Meat Lovers Easter Brunch Box for 2!” Enjoyed as a picnic in the park. The only hitch it doesn’t come with cutlery and we forgot to check, so ended up eating with out hands.

But thankfully the “Mimosa Kit #3” came with actual glass flutes that were wrapped in a white cloth napkin that we could use when things got messy. Two bottles of Tropicana orange juice and a bottle of “Blue Mountain Brut Gold Label” to self pour and serve. The glassware was a nice added touch, it helped to elevate the setting and experience to where the food was.

 

The following is what is included in the brunch box to share. Packed individually, it is easy enough to take home and assemble, or in our case, nibble from one box to another.

Two local grilled Pork and Leek Sausages were a nice savoury start. Fragrantly spiced and juicy, it did get greasy sitting in the bottom of the box. It was only second to the four pieces of Ponzu glazed Pork Belly Bacon. The pork belly was caramelized with a nice sweet sauce, not too gristly, sumptuous when paired with a bite of potatoes.

The crispy potatoes came tossed with red and yellow peppers and purple cabbage. It was all dressed in lemon and fresh herbs. They offered a nice side and some freshness to the set. And breakfast isn’t the same without some solid potatoes. I just wish they were cut smaller for easier eating without cutlery or plates.

The asiago, parmesan, and free-run eggs quiche was cut into four slices. This was a fluffy omelette with plenty of eggy flavour, sitting on a flaky pastry crust. I really enjoyed this one.

And to help transition from savoury to sweet the fresh fruit salad was a nice break and palette refresher. A bunch of grapes sitting on cubes of honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelon.

For a sweeter finish, the Water St. Cafe large Stuffed French Toast is best shared. A thick chunk of doughy and eggy bread filled with Guava infused mascarpone. I enjoyed it as is, but you can have it with the sides of lemon curd and berry compote they come with for some added sweetness.

And in case you were still hungry, you also get two in house-baked croissants. They were similar in flakiness to the quiche crust, with a wonderfully buttery taste.

And finally, to connect the “Meat Lovers Easter Brunch Box for 2!” They included some Easter grass with two boxes of chocolate eggs and bunnies from Lindt. Not hidden, but just as fun to eat.

In short this is such a great deal for only $50. You get so much. For those interested in ordering their own brunch, or maybe their turkey dinner to feed 1-20, visit the Water St Café’s link below.

https://www.exploretock.com/waterstcafe/

Water St. Café
300 Water St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1B6
(604) 689-2832
waterstreetcafe.ca

House Special, take out with Perk Hero app

The hospitality and restaurant industry is much different than it was a mere month ago. Covid-19 and the necessity to stay indoors and distance yourself from others has transformed the way we work, play, and eat. And with no sign of it changing its trajectory any time soon, those in the food industry are looking for different ways to market their limited take out or delivery (through an app) business.

Today I was testing out what such platform. A new app that rewards you for taking out at your favourite restaurant, and paying through them. The premise, to earn rewards each time you do, and to redeem them for cash discounts on your next order.

“Perk Hero” markets themselves as a fun way to take out. You simply download and register the app. It is set up like a video game, with the ability to create your profile, customizing it with your own avatar. For every meal you purchase you collect both experience points and coins. The former allows you to level up, which leads to earning more coins to be put towards future meals. As a range, I earned 45 cents when I levelled up to level one. This landmark was achieved through setting up my profile and the initial first purchase, which they call “quests”, in following with the theme.

The app is fairly straight forward, although it did take me a couple of minutes to figure out how to use the credits I had towards my dinner. But paying is as easy as taking a photo (it literally is), and the app does the rest. The payment is taken on your credit card, which you register when you initially sign up.

My only feedback is that it is odd that you have to input your phone number each time you login, and access the app with the “secret code” they text you shortly after. And with them only recently launching, they have very little restaurants that you can choose from. And one barber shoppe, which predicts their growth and the direction in which they plan to take their platform. But the restaurants that they do have are notable stops: “Las Margaritas”, “Chickpea”, “Dunn”, and one of my favourite restaurants to recommend, “House Special”. So naturally the lattermost was the choice here.

We searched up “House Special’s” menu from off the restaurant’s website and ordered takeout by phone. Easy enough to do, but it would be nice to be able to do so through “Perk Hero”, making it a one stop app. Similarly, the phone number and address is listed for the restaurant, but clicking it doesn’t yield any results. Nonetheless we called ahead and made our choices for take out. And by the time we drove down to the restaurant our order was completed and packed up for us to take and go.

We ordered some of their staples, planning on enjoying it in the tailgate of the 2020 Hyundai Palisade. We chose based on what sounded good, and less on the ease of eating it in the back seat of a car. They are as follows.

Their spring rolls are vegan and gluten free. Crispy mung bean spring rolls served with nước chấm dipping sauce and a side of Vietnamese herbs. This delivered on expectations with a nice crunch. There was minimal grease, and they were well cut with the tangy and acidic fish sauce. Out of everything we had, this was the easiest to eat and share.

“Uncle Hing’s Chicken Wings” was a little more complicated to eat in the car, with you needing your bare hands to hold on to and eat clean their family recipe’s chicken wings and drumlets. The menu jokingly claims it “originates from the remote village of Houston, Texas”. Free range chicken wings prepared with spicy nước chấm. There was plenty of meat on bone. Flavourful, but I would have liked more sauce, something thick and sticky to coat each wing with.

We naturally ordered the “House Special Pho”, prepared with brisket, beef, beef balls, tripe, tendon, and rice noodles in their “famous” beef broth. Served with a baggie of sprouts and fresh herbs, like you would get in a bowl at your table. The serving was a beautifully light, yet full of beefy goodness; a good mix of textures from all the meat parts listed above. And should you need a bit more spice or zip, you can utilize either the container of chilli sauce or hoisin. The difficulty of tailgating here was the pouring of the soup over the noodles and sliced meats. Though I was happy to have so much extra broth to enjoy just as soup, when the noodles were long gone. Also worth noting is that there was an even ratio of noodle to all the meaty toppings over it.

Out of our two noodle orders, I much more preferred their “Bun Bo Hue” for its moderately spicy lemongrass pork and beef broth soup with pork belly, brisket, Vietnamese ham, thick vermicelli noodles, and Vietnamese coriander. I also preferred the thicker noodles use here, and the ability to slurp them down.

Reading salted egg yolk on the menu, I had to try the “Egg Yolk Pork Ribs & Rice”. Braised pork ribs & eggplant tossed in a salted duck egg yolk; served with rice and pickles. I could have used more egg yolk in the mix; and eggplant was better than the pork, which was on the dry side. Overall, both didn’t have enough flavour or sauce to eat with the bed of rice. But I did enjoy the side of pickles for balance and as a palette refresher.

And we also added two bottles of beers to the order, because it is now legal to take those to go to. We indulged in the Saigon Export, it pairing well with the food and all the fish sauce.

In conclusion, this was another great local restaurant to support during these uncertain times. One of my favourites to recommend for consistent service. So go out there and check them out, or revisit your favourites so that they will still be here when we all come out of this.

HOUSE SPECIAL
1269 Hamilton Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 6K3
778-379-2939
housespecial.ca

Juke Fried Chicken, take out

One of the main things I like about dining out is the drinking that often comes along with it. The ability to enjoy hand crafted cocktails at the bar, shaken and stirred by the city’s best bartenders. But with week 2 of quarantine going strong, and the mandatory closure of non-essential businesses in full effect; all restaurants are no longer allowing you the opportunity to dine in. So with only take out or delivery options available, sitting and sipping is out of the question. Therefore I was ecstatic to learn that “Juke” and their award wining bartender, are offering cocktail mixes to go. Almost everything you need to recreate one of their delicious drinks from the comfort of your own home. All you have to do is add ice and the specified liquor.

So today when looking for take out, I made “Juke” my choice, grabbing each of their available cocktail mixes and two entrees, for one me.

Ordering is quick and easy on their website. With photos and quick descriptions it is simple enough to scroll trough and make your selection with a tap. You register an account and payment is taken off your credit card. The following is what I picked up and took home for dinner.

Their signature chicken contains dairy and eggs, but gives you the option to customize it to avoid your specific allergen. Wheat allergy, shellfish, gluten, peanut, nut, fish, soy, seeds, or celiac; they have you covered. As for the chicken itself, enjoy it regular, spicy, as the feature in a burger, or across several combos. I would have it double fold, across two of their entrees.

“Chix & Waffles”. Seeing chicken and waffles I had to indulge. Here, the sweet Belgium waffles do contain gluten, but you can choose a gluten free version. Packed with two pieces of chicken: drum and thigh over two waffles, topped with jalapeños. All you have to do is drizzle the sweet and creamy sauce (kept on the side), over it. This isn’t your typically salty and sweet rendition, but something unique on to its own; much like their brand of chicken as a whole.

The “Juke Box Combo” is a quarter rack of pork ribs, 2 pieces of their original chicken, and your choice of side. For the latter, list of options makes choosing hard. Basically any of their sides are up for grabs. Small fries or dirty fries, asian peanut slaw, cornbread, corn chicken fritters, gravy, Brussel sprouts, or even their “big boy cookie” (a cornmeal cookie with white chocolate and salted caramel, for dessert). Wanting something from the vegetable category, to balance out all the starches and grease, I went for their deep friend Brussel sprouts. They were sauced up well, with the ones at the bottom soaking up most of it, getting soggy and salty in the process. It wasn’t the fresh vegetable I wanted, but another indulgence instead. As for the protein, the chicken was exactly like the serving above, juicy with a crispy skin. The ribs were a meaty looking slab with plenty of gristle and marinade, the rest of the meat was just a little on the dry side.

I like a good pickle so had to try “Juke’s fried pickle”, a collection of pickled vegetable, breaded and deep fried with a coating of cool ranch dust. I didn’t get the ranch seasoning so much, so would have liked a container of it in the side to self dip or shake over. Although, I didn’t miss it. Aside from their time in the fryer, the tangy pickles offered a nice break in everything else above.

As for the cocktails, each is served in a mason jar, that accounts for a portion of the cost. It is labelled with the ingredient list and directions on how to complete the cocktail. And a reminder that social distancing is important, but it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a drink.

The “Passion fruit gimlet” was a bold yellow with syrup and lime juice. To it you add 2oz of vodka, gin, or tequila and ice. You can either drink it in the mason jar it comes in, or transfer it to a different vessel for a more normalized experience.

The “Blue skies margarita” starts off with a nonalcoholic blue curaçao and lime juice, and to it you add 2oz of tequila and ice, before shaking and serving.

“Purple rain” has you adding 2oz of whiskey to the mix of pineapple juice, orgeat, and lime.

Overall this was definitely a more sumptuous meal. It left me wanting milk and a salad for balance and freshness. An order that was enough to feed me for 3 meals to come. Perfect for picnic and outdoor eating under the sun. Shame, we are discouraged from going out and the weather has not been great.

In short, support your favourite local small business to ensure you can enjoy them again in the future.

Water St. Café, take out

With the need to distance yourself socially, given the viral landscape we are currently living in, local restaurants are doing what they can to stay a float during these uncertain times. Many of them, such as “Water St. Cafe” are offering customers promotional pricing and deals. Like if you purchase a $50 “Water St. Cafe” gift card you get a second one at $15. It doesn’t need to be gifted. If you are planning on purchasing take out from them, you might as well buy a gift card to use as payment. The two together covers a full meal including appetizer, entree, and desert.

You can’t dine in, but you can still have the perfect romantic date night date by setting the mood for yourself, at home. And I can speak from experience, their food taste just as good out of biodegradable, cardboard take out boxes as it does from off of their dish ware served on their white clothed tables. Albeit, you don’t get their stunning view of the Gastown clock, but as a whole it can be whatever you make out of it.

Their full menu is available for take out or delivery via “Skip The Dishes” and “Uber Eats”. The following is what we ordered to celebrate the first day of spring. It is all about the little things right now, simple joys and any reason to be jovial. I suggest taking them all. Plus, indulging like this also supports local businesses like “Water St.” who have been serving Gastown for the last 32 years.

The “Water St. Salad” is a popular appetizer to share. A dressed bowl of Tuscan greens topped with heirloom tomatoes, goat cheese, half an avocado, pumpkin seeds, and cucumber; all coated in a honey lemon olive oil vinaigrette. A light start, better served as a side to accompany all the food before us.

The “West Coast crab cakes” are declared a “Water Street Cafe tradition” by the menu. A battered and deep fried round that includes Pacific rock crab and baby shrimp, served with preserve citrus, fennel, arugula, and a saffron aioli. Another light plate to wet the appetite with. A little bland as is, but ideal with the aioli that helps to brighten the serving up; along with a side of fennel for some crunch.

The “Short rib pappardelle” is one that never disappoints. It features 72 hour braised short rib raguet, confit garlic, fresh basil, and Asiago cheese. A comforting serving that fully satisfies with its sheets of thick el dente noodles, evenly coated in the sweeter tomato sauce and tender pulled meat. This is one I recommend.

The “Grilled wild bc salmon” was a great one to kick off spring with. Made with balsamic and honey pickled blueberries, and served with pan roasted potatoes. A flavourful main that I would have liked best if the salmon was left a little more raw, for a more silken texture. Something with a lot more moisture to offer in contrast to the soften potatoes, crisp veggies, and juicy berries.

The “Braised beef short rib” was a stunning plate. Two generous pieces of sous vide Prince Edward Island beef topped one over the other, on a bed of herb crushed potato, crispy onions, and a pool of hoisin jus. Another comfortable main that gave you the flair of fine dining with the familiarity of a causal, non pretentious plate. Tender meat and fresh vegetables, tried and true.

And for dessert we had the “Lemon tart” with housemade lemon crude, apricot glaze, and berry coulis. This, my guest raved about.

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.
For delicious, classic staples that are dressy yet comfortable and familiar, look to “Water St. Cafe” for a meal that doesn’t disappoint. And doing so now with their spend $50 get $15 back giftcard promo adds great value to your take out. Don’t deny your cravings.

Water St. Café
300 Water St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1B6
(604) 689-2832
http://www.waterstreetcafe.ca/menus/

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