VieAMaggi.com

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

Category: Victoria-Fraserview/Killarney

Wang’s Shanghai Cuisine

My guest has been wanting to take me here for a while now. This is her favourite Chinese restaurant in the city. Delicious and authentic Shanghai cuisine at a fair price. Although she warned me that the service wouldn’t be great and that one regular server in particular comes across as rude (I identified her immediately). And I can tell you right off the bat, if the service doesn’t match the caliber of the food, it takes away from the taste of it.

Located in the “London Drugs” plaza on Kingsway, parking is easy to find, but hard to get into with tight stalls, narrow lanes, and inexperienced drivers. The restaurant is to the left of “London Drugs”, if you are facing it.

We came just in time to grab the last empty table, although the wait is short for the next one to free up. The food comes out quick and this isn’t the most enjoyable setting to linger in, so turn around is consistent. Closely placed tables so your meal doesn’t feel private, staff that stare you down as you eat, and the overall abrupt and rushed energy you feel from the staff as they hustle and bustle around you, with no time for pleasantries.

The menu is pretty straightforward for those familiar with the cuisine, but vague for any one visiting them for the first time. “Tofu puff with vermicelli soup” doesn’t tell me much about the flavour of the broth I am committing to a bowl of. Similarly, either does “Fried bean paste noodles” and “meat stew noodles in soup”. Lucky for us, my guest was well versed in their menu and ordered a few of her favourite go to’s. It was all heavy in carbs, and therefore all delicious.

Ironically we didn’t order any of their popular soup dumplings, especially considering there was a chef making them to order in a plexiglass box. A giant bowl of ground pork, lumps of dough, rolled out and stuff with machine-like precision.

“Wonton noodle soup” is not on the menu, but they make it for her each time by adding their boiled wontons to soup, then adding in noodles. Although when the dish came to our table, it was missing the noodles. And after a debate with the server, who blamed us for the miss in our order, we got a whole new bowl of broth with noodles. More noodles than we would have gotten otherwise. This was a delicious neutral clear broth, deep with flavour, but a little oily. I would be happy just drinking it, the noodles only added starch, and I wasn’t a fan of all the wilted greens in the dumplings.

I much more preferred the thicker, chewier texture of the “Shanghai style pan fried thick noodles”. I just wished there was more to the dish beside crunchy cabbage and shrivelled up pieces of pork. More depth, a greater feeling of eating a full dish and not just soy sauce noodles. But flavour wise, it was not overwhelming, and if I set myself to it, I would be able to finish it all in one sitting.

Next we had even more carbs in the “Pan fried pork bun”. I bit down, not realizing it was a soup filled bun. The juices squirted out, and I found myself slurping them up hastily. They made the centre of the bun soft and moist, a nice contrast to the crispy exterior. And the meaty centre acted as a sponge that soaked up all the flavour.

The “Beef roll” is worth repeating. This version used a lighter dough to wrap beef, cucumber, and plenty of sauce. Too much salty brown sauce for my tastes, lit bled out of either side and made the dough soggy. But the flavour was good and you can get past the above. .

To circle back to what I mentioned earlier, the service portion was lacking. Our server took our order without uttering a single word, and then reached around to grab the menu from us with no regard of personal space. Then we had to argue for the noodles with no apology, but instead, the accusation of us saying the wrong thing. This was followed by not being able to get the attention of someone for the bill. And having to go to the counter to pay; and given containers there, so that we could pack our own leftovers. We expected to have to pack up what we didn’t finish, ourselves. But it would have been nice for them to bring the styrofoam boxes and plastic bags to the table, instead of simply handing it to my paying guest, just cause she was up there.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Tasty food, I would go back to satisfy a craving, but I wouldn’t make them a destination. I also wouldn’t want to recommend them, less someone also gets bad service. Good Shanghai for me, and still the “Best Shanghai” in the city for my guest. Don’t deny your cravings.

WANG’S SHANGHAI CUISINE
110-3328 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC V5R 5L1
(604) 428-6818

Tibisti Grill aka Lebanese Cuisine

IMG_2794IMG_2796

I admittedly am ignorant when it comes to geography, a fact that was pointed out by my partner, and one that I am trying to improve on though travel and trying new things. Which brings me to “Lebanese Cuisine” the Lebanese restaurant serving Lebanese cuisine, in case you have missed that. The name on the awning is “Lebanese Cuisine”, but online they are referred to as “Tibisti Grill”. I have limited experience in this cuisine type. This would be only my third time trying Lebanese food, and only the second Lebanese specialty restaurant I have visited.

According to Wikipedia, “Lebanese cuisine includes an abundance of starches, whole grain, fruits, vegetables, fresh fish and seafood… Fats are consumed sparingly and poultry is eaten more often than red meat. When red meat is eaten it is usually as lamb or goat’s meat. Cooking is done with copious amounts of garlic and olive oil, with lemon juice as a popular seasoning. Olive oil, herbs, garlic and lemon are typical flavours found in the Lebanese diet. It is similar to the diets of most Mediterranean countries”. It sounded delicious and I figured a buffet would be the best way to dabble in all of the above. Though they also offer an a la carte menu as well.

I found the name of the restaurant direct and to the point, much like the exterior and interior of the building. On the outside coloured posters depicted dishes served and listed their names in red. Maui ribs and roast lamb meals, souvlaki in beef or chicken, NY steak; wraps in chicken, beef, or lamb; and sides like baba ganoush, garlic sauce, hummus, tabbouleh, and baked potatoes.
“Baba ghanoush” is a dish of cooked eggplant mixed with onions, tomatoes, olive oil and various seasonings. “Tabbouleh” is a Arabian vegetarian dish traditionally made of tomatoes, finely chopped parsley, mint, bulgur and onion. It is seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt.

IMG_2797IMG_2813

Inside the restaurant it was just a seating area and a buffet line. There were no decorations, no need for art or for objects to fill up the space. They gave you only what you needed to enjoy a quick meal with. A clean restaurant, with sturdy furniture, and an assortment of pre-made dishes to help yourself to. The only thing I can say, is that with so much of its space left empty and un-used, it seems like the restaurant was designed and chosen with the possibility of expansion in mind. The back of the restaurant was cleverly hidden behind cubicle-like barriers; a freestanding wall separating seat from sight. They hid the unused space. Empty refrigeration units, empty racks, and permits to operate in sheet protectors. It wasn’t the most appealing view, but we only had to see it when we paid, and by that time it was too late to change our mind about staying for dinner.

Smaller buffets get a bad rep. The thinking is that less business means more food left over and more food going to waste. So to cut costs and to reduce waste they may either reuse leftovers or prepare smaller portions, meaning you are skeptical of how fresh things actually are. And then there is the understanding that buffet food will always be a little over cooked, as it is steeping in the heated dish. Though not every one is so particular about eating over cooked food. You really have to consider, what you are getting for the price you are paying. We were here for their lunch buffet, which gave less variety at $3 less per person, when compared to the dinner buffet. $11.95 for lunch, $14.99 per person for dinner.

All that some need is a cheap and easy lunch or dinner. Food available right away, a hassle free system; and good selection of meat, veggies, and carbs. So the question is do you tip? And how much do you tip for a buffet where you are literally doing some of the service leg work for yourself. I will let you all simmer on that one.

We went in with open minds, and the reassurance that if we didn’t like what we saw, we could easily walk out. Though once we were through the door, we were immediately greeted by the owner. He was most helpful and most convincing in why we should stay for lunch. We ended up taking a seat upon his suggestion. After hearing our want to check things out before committing, he took the time to give us a walking tour of the buffet. The owner was very friendly, and to him everything was “amazing”. There were no names to any of the trays, no list of ingredients under each tub, no way to ensure dietary restrictions would be met. But he did point to each one and list their main ingredients for us verbally. Luckily neither of us had any dietary restrictions to consider and can actually enjoy the assembly a buffet provides.

IMG_2800IMG_2801

The buffet line was divided between cold and hot foods, appetizers and entrees. The former includes salads and spreads to start. A green salad, a Greek salad, dolmades, hummus, tzatziki, and a garlic butter to go with room temperature pitas.

IMG_2799

The latter buffet trays were all yellow, orange, or brown. Roasted potatoes stewing in butter and herbs, yellow rice seasoned heavily in spices, meatballs in a tomato paste, sausages in a tomato sauce, chicken legs done two ways, and roasted lamb.

IMG_2808IMG_2803

On their secondary line was a serving of fried chicken wings and mixed stewed vegetables. The rest of the trays were empty in anticipation of the larger dinner service line up. The vegetables were actually brought out after our first go at the line. I appreciated that despite it being late lunch, early afternoon, nothing looked too sold down. I mean they even put in the effort into preparing and offering up a new dish. And that it wasn’t just a top up.

IMG_2806IMG_2810

As our plates were varied and was composed of a little of everything, I will be simply listing notes of the dishes tried.

The garlic butter was good, but would have been better on something crispy, instead of the available room temperature pita bread. I wish there was a way to warm the pitas up, they were hard and chewy, almost stale. Actually I wish they made the pitas from scratch, you could tell this was store bought. Although I still found them one of the better items when paired with tzatziki and hummus. Though the hummus was a little on the bland side. It was easily perked up by stirring in a scoop of the garlic butter adjacent.

I am not a big fans of Dolmades, the peppery leaves are not to my liking. And even if I unwrap them from the little bundles, the soggy paste-like filling isn’t any better. It was too tart and too acidic for me. “Dolmades” are delicate parcels made from grape leaves stuffed with long-grain rice, toasted pine nuts, fresh herbs and seasonings.

IMG_2802

There were two different types of chicken, both dark meat and both only leg pieces. One was a spicy chilli, the other more like a mild bbq. You could tell them apart by the colour of the sauce and the presence of red flakes. I liked both for their juicy meat, that soaked up all the flavouring of the broth they sat in.

IMG_2812

The lamb was hit or miss. A few pieces were fall off the bone tender like the owner promised. Others got too much heat, and as a result dried out. Luckily with a buffet, you don’t have to finish what you don’t like and get to go back for what you do. I passed on the dry pieces and fished around for the ones that were more tender.

IMG_2807

The meat balls were actually more flattened meat patties. And like the sausage they were both just meat in tomato stew. They tasted as you expected them to: ground beef and spicy pork sausage.

Similarly, the Greek and garden vegetable salad was nothing special. Greek salad seasoned in olive oil and feta and garden salad dressed in a salty tangy vinaigrette

 

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? – No.
Overall the food was nothing unique, it tasted good, but nothing very memorable. The flavours were similar to Greek cuisine. We tried a little of everything and went back for seconds, so I will deem the price for the food worth what we paid. However I am not a fan of most buffets in general. I don’t like the presentation or the selection. I don’t like the service model and miss the excitement of seeing a dish set before me. Though here, at $14.99 for the the price of one entree, you are better off paying that price for the buffet, and to be able to try more for less. Also this buffet was missing a dessert component, where most do consider something sweet to end the meal on. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

TIBISTI GRILL
6990 VICTORIA DRIVE, VANCOUVER B
604-737-1000
Tibisti Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Neighbour’s Restaurant & Pizza House

IMG_1453IMG_1498

A few days before payday and you find that your dining choices are much more curated. What’s good and works with my $20 a meal budget? With their Monday to Wednesday specials, “Neighbours”, the neighbourhood joint was a fine pick.

When I know a restaurant is family owned and operated my expectations for it are a little different. I shift from a focus on food to one more on vibe. How comfortable and how well taken care of I am, is almost more important than what I am being served. To be labeled as home style encompasses the community and the unity of family. I want to feel that coming in. I want to be welcomed, to know that my stopping in at random is appreciated; and if I have a reservation, that they have been expecting me and are excited to usher me in. Such expectations I trade, in exchange of accepting a regular meal at a fair price. A lot to ask for from this long standing mom and pop kitchen, but they delivered.

The shop stood still when we entered. Smiles shone and we were immediately directed to a table by the owner himself. I mean they must know what they are doing to be doing this for over 30 years. Three generations of restauranteurs learning how “mama does it”.

IMG_1460

The setting was homey with framed photographs on the walls. Smiling faces posed behind glass, black and white snaps of the kitchen’s daily operations, a commemorative piece celebrating their establishment since 1982, and a cork board of photos capturing loyal customers and fans celebrating the restaurant’s, then 25 years in business.

IMG_1458IMG_1497

In another direction, a panoramic sea scape gathered the room around it. It took you in with its blue waters littered with sail boats, and it’s green bluffs overlooking several red roof homes. I imagined this to be a tranquil landscape in Italy, to match with the restaurant’s heritage.

Each table was dressed with a plastic patterned table cloths and partnered with worn wooden chairs. I wasn’t a fan of the cloth professionally, but it was familiar sight. In my mother’s kitchen, on her dining room table is such a cloth. It too is tacky and sticky to the touch.

IMG_1459

Fake greenery hung from baskets, suspended from the ceiling. And painted chalk boards advertised their daily specials. Like “Souvalaki Tuesday’s” where chicken or beef Souvalaki is $10.95, and it includes all the familiars of a Greek entree. Rice pilaf, Greek salad, pita bread, and tzatziki. Or “Wings Wednesday’s” offering up beer and wing deals in a combo, or 45 cents per wing, with a minimum order of ten.

IMG_1455IMG_1462

When I was researching them online, there was no mention of their appearance on “You Gotta Eat Here!” A Canadian food themed show, where host John Catucci travels across Canada on a journey to find the country’s best comfort foods. But it was heavily advertised in house, a visual reminder of their 15 minutes of fame, on every menu and by the front entrance. Their appearance on the show was one they enjoyed and were so grateful for, that the nod to the show came with a thank you note as well.

Here they serve Italian-Greek style comfort food. Why decide on either cuisine when both are so much better, together? I find both Italian and Greek, with their heavy seasonings and carbohydrate loaded offerings very reassuring. They had everything for either cravings covered. Pizza, pasta, salads, and dips; even barbecue was on the menu. Everything you expect from a Greek restaurant was present: roasted lamb, spanakopita, Greek salad, calamari, and even baklava. And anything you would want from an Italian restaurant was also accounted for: chicken Parmesan, meat balls, bruschetta, stuffed pastas, baked lasagnas; and over 35 different pizza choices, including the ability to customize your own. And just to please everyone, they also offer classics like barbecue ribs and apple pie. It was all very homey. Their name certainly fit all this.

Though seeing as it was pasta Monday’s, where a hearty pasta dish was $8.95, we had to take advantage of that. Where as regularly, full pasta dishes go for $14-17.

Especially as the deal was dine in only. You choose your favourite type of pasta and sauce, and it comes with garlic bread. Apparently, their regular sized pastas can feed 2-3 people, so good thing their Monday specials is less food for less. Fettuccine, spaghetti, or penne regatta. Meat sauce, marinara, Alfredo, or rosa.

IMG_1465IMG_1469

My guest ordered the most familiar, “Spaghetti with meat sauce”. Although simple, it was very flavourful. Oh wasn’t your regular tomato based sauce, it has some extra spice to it, yet finished on a sweeter now. The perfectly cooked noodles absorbed the rich flavours well. Interestingly the sauce and the noodles so congeal as it time passes and the pasta begins to cool down. Towards the end it was like eating a whole different plate of pasta texturally. I preferred it fresh.

IMG_1472IMG_1473

Seeing as the pasta deal was dine in only and my guest wanted to take some home for the low price of $8.95. We ordered another portion to go. It was exactly what she had and was still working on. Context: she is a very petite Asian female, so her ordering this much food is sure to raise some eyebrows. Yet our server happily complied with her request. To my guest’s point, she did take a bite when the new plate hit our table.

IMG_1479IMG_1475

Their daily classic special was 6oz New York steak for $15.95, which includes garlic butter mushrooms, spaghetti with meat sauce, garlic bread and a tossed salad. All this food sounded like a good deal I had to take advantage of. Though, sadly the steak was served a little dry, even through I had asked for medium rare. It looked right with the perfect pink middle, but the chewing was tough and the meat was grainy. It was more medium than the medium rare I had wanted. I guess here is an example of you get what you pay for. I thoroughly appreciated the sides that helped to break up the taste. I even ate the orange slice, even though it was covered in meat juices.

IMG_1463IMG_1464

The side salad was actually served first. I was given the option of Italian, ranch, or thousand island dressing, I choose the former. The salad was cold and on an empty stomach I rather have my first bite be a warm one. I think it was a pre-bag salad mix with the addition of celery and large tomato chunks. Over all, nothing special.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
The food may not be the best, or any where near gourment, but the value makes up for that. Decent portions at a fair price. I likened my experience to eating at home with the same comforts, but without having to clean up after ourselves. But to be picky, i feel the staff aren’t as attentive because of the lack of family members/help, but they do their best. I mean, after seating us, the owner came back to check in on us throughout or meal. There was definitely care here. I will go back, but am in no rush to. It was good, but nothing to have you craving for more. I tried Italian today, so maybe Greek another day. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

NEIGHBOURS
6493 Victoria Drive, Vancouver BC, V5P 3X5
604-327-1456
neighboursrestaurant.ca
Click to add a blog post for Neighbour's Restaurant & Pizza House on Zomato

Bubble Waffle Cafe

IMG_9210IMG_9211

It was a hot day and we were debating on bubble tea places to quench our thirst at on Kingsway. Fellow blogger, MissVancouverPiggy and I eventually settled on “Bubble Waffle Cafe”. It wasn’t exactly the best location, beside the “London Drugs” on Kingsway near Joyce. Tucked away and almost hidden in a shopping complex, one amongst other other Asian restaurants. On the plus side, parking was abundant and available, and that was good enough of a reason for us to visit today.

I honestly didn’t expect much. The exterior was plastered with ads. A wall papering of specific specials and new features. The type of plates and combos that seem like a good deal until you get into the fine print. I feel if you need to try that hard to be noticed you must rely on random walk ins instead of repeat business. Given the empty restaurant that stood before us when we walked in my hunch may be correct. During our short stay we saw a couple walk in then walk out, and a mother contemplate what to take out for her infant son.

IMG_9213IMG_9212

The room was filled with the scent of eggy bubble waffles, so its name was accurate. The counter was lined with cans of condense milk, though they did not offer shaved ice. There is not much else to describe in terms of decor. More posters advertising what they sold and what was a good deal littered the interior. No empty space was left not utilized. Not until after we ordered and took a second look around did we realize that half of the menu was actually only available on the walls. We ended up missing out on combos and different options because they weren’t on the laminated menus before us. Things we actually wanted. Coffee slushies and drink and bubble waffle specials for cheap. Worst still was our server not mentioning them to us or at least directing us to these options outside the menu. Needless to say selections made were regretted and minds could not be changed.

A prickly point was the background noise. No music, we ate surrounded by the boisterous conversation between staff members. The lone clerk working the front was shouting to the chef in the kitchen. They spoke in Cantonese. I don’t mind other languages, I just find it rude to engage in one when not all those around are able to understand, and the volume is loud enough for you to feel like part of the conversation. I expressed my thoughts aloud to MissVancouverPiggy who disagreed. She reminded me that this is very common occurrence in many Chinese restaurants and I should leave and let be. But as I have stated on several occasions, why do we as the diner have to endure this? When I the diner, pay for a meal, the price includes overhead. The labour needed to make my meal and the cost of having it in an decent environment. Yes the cost of bubble teas and Hong Kong style snacks are inexpensive when compared to other cuisines, but at $4 plus for a beverage I am still paying for more than just the cost of ingredients and materials needed. So in short I expect consideration from my host. Not much, but enough to feel that they appreciate my patronage. Here I felt like a nuisance in their empty restaurant. And worst what we had was awful.

As mentioned the restaurant is a Hong Kong style snack place. With its specialty drinks and bite sized dishes it reminded me of the stalls at Richmond night market. These over priced little bites meant you got to try multiples. I was cautious so decided to stick with just bubble tea and bubble waffles, sussing things out before considering a noodle dish, a hot plate, or even just dim sum and curry.

IMG_9217IMG_9218

Watermelon slush with pearls. Based on its light pink colour and clear watery hue we suspected the watermelon came from the end pieces closest to the rind, hence the pale pink. This was the only drink you were offered as a regular or a large. As suspected the juice was watery, almost watered down. More water then melon. And what made the drink only worse was the subpar pearls. They were mushy on the outside and hard in the middle. They tasted old like they sat in their own juices waiting to be used. Not a far leap considering the lack of business and the need to save when possible because of it.

Papaya milk with pearls. Not enough papaya flavour, fresh or powder it needed more of its name sake fruit. Like the watermelon this too was watered down. Having papaya as one of my favourite milk tea flavours I am aware of the taste and how it should come across, I was getting none of that here. Possibly too much coconut juice? And not surprising the pearls were no different than the ones used above.

IMG_9214IMG_9220

Bubble waffles in matcha green tea flavour. The batch was as green as pictures. A crispy skin to the point of over cooking, though they fared well in hiding each bubble pocket’s gooey centre. The green tea flavour was off putting: bitter. It could have used some cream or even more sugar to balance the strength. MissVancouverPiggy insisted on finishing the lot only to get a stomach ache from it.

In my opinion there was nothing worth finishing. So we left our cups barely touched, behind. Yes I had to pay for it, and yes I hate wasting food, but I hate wasting calories on food I don’t like more. I didn’t want to force myself to eat just because I don’t want to be wasteful. When asking for the bill I did mention to the server that our drinks were not good. Her only response was “oh really!?” as she walked away. If I thought it would do any good I would have asked for another drink, to give the restaurant a chance to redeem themselves. Though shouldn’t the staff be making the initiative? To read what I said and make a decision to save my experience. Sadly this is not the standard or expectation at most Chinese places.

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.
Nothing about this event was salvageable. From the lack of care displayed by our server to the lack of effort put into our food. They spent more time printing posters. I have never been more unimpressed. I have never been to a bubble tea place worst. With so many cafés and Asian restaurants serving bubble tea in the immediate area my cravings could have been better served else where. Don’t deny your cravings.

BUBBLE WAFFLE CAFE
Unit 110-3328 Kingsway, Vancouver BC, V5R5L1
604-428-6818
bubblewafflecafe.com
Bubble Waffle Cafe 雞蛋仔餐廳 on Urbanspoon

Malay Curry House

IMG_4470 IMG_4471

On the constant search for the best laksa in the city, my goal lead me here with the promise of authenticity in the cuisine that I love. The restaurant wasn’t much in terms of decor or design. An uneventful exterior with barred windows and half drawn blinds. And inside the restaurant looked half done. Colourful in paint, but lacking in character. Two toned orange walls, a feature wall in grey with a red circle and another in yellow with thin red line. I didn’t understand the thought behind either. A tiny parrot painting hung on one wall, a fake sunflower on the corner of another. Not much to enjoy around the room, so what little in posters, hand written signs, and plant life looked out of place and almost sloppy. Luckily the food spoke volumes and made up for this. It was also a better view than anything else the restaurant could offer.

IMG_4481IMG_4501

The room was separated by their high countered bar. Behind it a bubble tea drink shaker, plastic cup sealer, and a slot for prepared dishes to come up to pass. A handful of seats on the left and a few more on the left divided, tables given breathing room with much distance in between. Simple and small faux marble table tops and sturdy yet plain black chairs. We grabbed a couple of seats by the window that gave us a view of busy Kingsway. The space kept cool by way of a portable air conditioner, the type you purchase for your apartment and have running out the window. As I mentioned earlier, all in all pretty unspectacular. It is like they almost didn’t want you to enjoy the space too much or stay too long.

We were kept waiting, waiting for a group who occupied the lone waitress with a number of detailed questions. I suspect this was in the need of clarification over their confusing menu and various combos. Not waiting our order to come after their six, I leapt from our table to solicit either of the two employees behind the bar. They were engaged in something, but as a guest I know not what. What I do know is that they could be helping me. A very common thought in the service industry. They required se time but one did follow suit shortly after. I suspect their jobs are divided and specialized. Only one takes orders, only one makes the bubble tea, and the last one only buses tables.

The menu was colourful enough with plenty of photos to engage your interest. Well composed plates and their images sewn creatively across each page. Such a well done and professional menu for a smaller restaurant. Though as I made reference to earlier, part of it was confusing. There were deals with stipulations and combos with requirements, all fine printed with the need to clarify. I suggest reading over it thoroughly to save a couple of dollars here and there. The server didn’t point any of them out for us, but was able to give details on each and what would be best for our needs when asked.

IMG_4483

Milk tea in a to go cup. This was a watery, sweeten, tasteless milk. Most disappointing, as milk tea is the beginner and staple drink of the bubble tea world. This should have been an easy win.

IMG_4484IMG_4485

“Malaysian roti with satay or curry sauce”. We got the curry to dip our flaky and fried dough into. Curry being the traditional sauce of choice. It was sweet and nutty, with only the slightest hint of spice. The roti itself was on the oiler side, though it was well made: light and easily peeled off in layers.

IMG_4486IMG_4490

Their website declared they were famous for their boneless Hananese chicken. Even leading the front page with its picture. So this had to be a must try for me. “Boneless Hananese Chicken combo” with 2 sauces of your choice, one soup, and either chicken oil rice or steamed rice. This was a smaller portion combo-ed for lunch, with the whole or half the bird available as well. The chicken soup was mild, not oily, but rich in flavour thanks to a long and low simmering. It complimented the dish without over whelming it in chicken grease. A great palette refresher and a better accompaniment to the chicken oil rice. A rice flavoured and cooked with the chicken’s essence instead of just water. It came flavourful with an only slightly oily texture. The sauce choice included: Green onion and ginger, Spicy garlic vinegar, Lemongrass lime, Sesame satay, Hot and spicy, Peanut satay, Thai chicken, and Garlic and black vinegar. I choose the first two, them being the traditional accompaniments to the classic salted chicken, and recommend by our server. The chicken itself was as good as their menu suggested. Tender cuts of dark meat salted with soya sauce and accented by all its surrounding add ons. One of the better I have had in the city.

IMG_4498IMG_4499

“Satay skewer chicken”. The minimum order is two. We got four. Two of which were add ons to our lunch special above. You have the ability to add two more skewers of either chicken, beef, or lamb for $2 when you order the “Boneless Hananese Chicken combo”. You end up saving $1 going this route. We then added another two skewers because the limit on the above was just the two and we wanted more. Confusing, I know. The chicken itself was hard and dry, more tendon than meat. And it’s dipping sauce was a disappointment. Usually a chunky mix that you scrape clean off the plate, this tasted only of peanut oil and sesame. Off putting in bland taste and flat texture.

IMG_4493IMG_4494

“Customize your own noodles”. As its name suggests you pick a soup base, select your noodle preference, choose your main toppings, and include any add ons desired. I had to have the “House special laksa”, with fish cakes and thick noodles. The price is dependant on the main ingredient that you chose. I just had the one so was delighted that my choice also came with tofu puffs, what would have been my second ingredient choice. The fish puffs are well flavoured, they stood alone in the strong laksa. And the tofu acted like little sponges soaking up soup for a saucy bite. The soup itself is addictively rich, thickened with coconut milk, slightly sweeten with yellow curry, and strongly spiced with chillies. The neon broth had my nose running with its heat. A new twist to my favourite dish was the shredded coconut on top for heightened coconut taste and an added coarse texture.

IMG_4495IMG_4496

My guest has the “Asam style soup” with fish fillet, an add on of tofu puff, and yellow noodles. On the menu add ons come with the pieces included and prices either at $1 or $2. Asam is the Malay word for tamarind; it is a sour, slightly spicy fish based soup. The soup was tomato full, a refreshingly saltiness with a sharp tang of sour. The deeply coloured broth looked heavier than it was, it well complimented the more sweeter, starchy noodles.

In what I felt was a tacky fashion, the bill came on a tray with a note attached. A piece of paper plastered down with multiple layers of tape. On it read, “thank you for tipping”. Although it is customary to and there is an assumption of; having a reminder to is off putting. An activity forced instead of one meant to show appreciation. And it this case the staff did the bare minimal required. Orders were taken and food delivered. No conversations, no check ins, and no interest in us other than to collect what we owe.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Putting aside the lack lustre decor and barely there service, I may have just found my favourite place for Malaysian food in the city, so far. Overall everything tasted authentic and the were prices fair. Though be warned it is cash only, a fact not mentioned on their website, and there only there as a hand scrawled sign at the cash desk. Surprisingly in this day and age, as plastic is ever present, and debit machines are becoming more of a must. I guest for smaller shoppes the fees attached must do more harm than the options for guests to pay with them helps. As an opportunity, all the dish wear we were presented with came oily. This could have been prevented with a good wipe down before serving. As a success, when we asked for our leftover noodles to be soggy bagged, they took it upon themselves to separated the noodle from the broth so that they won’t get soggy. Very thoughtful and clever, this maintains their integrity by the time you get home and are ready to take a second crack at them. Don’t deny your cravings.

MALAY CURRY HOUSE
3608 Kingsway, Vancouver BC, V5R 5M2
604-438-4288
malaycurryhouse.ca
Malay Curry House 馬拉星 on Urbanspoon

Gold Train Express

IMG_2352IMG_2319

Another episode of late night eating had my guest and I at Kingsway and Joyce. Where surprisingly, numerous Asian themed restaurants were still open and running well after 12am, even on a Monday. With its neon lights, we were lured close like moths to a flame. It was also one of the more convenient stops with a parking lot adjacent and street stalls out front. Though if you make the former your first choice, there is a required walk around parked cars and path-blocking hedges in order to reach the restaurant’s entrance.

IMG_2323IMG_2351

The space is narrow, our travel snaked us to the very back, ending at a table a stone’s throw from the single stalled washrooms. We could hear flushes as we ate. Though on the bright side, to have a six seater table to share between two girls, we were happy where we were. Even though our luxurious table was just the joining of a four and two seater side by side. The restaurant was fairly busy, tables full, but without a wait. A sea of Asian youths, as couples and in groups. It led us to believe this was the neighbourhood hotspot.

IMG_2322IMG_2320

The decor was a hodge-podge of stuff. A few television sets faced no particular direction, though they all broadcasted the same sporting channel. Mirrors faced opposing windows. I imagined their reflection a nuisance to those drivers passing by. It also gave a distorted view into the restaurant. The rest was an assembly of decorations that have stood the test of time. Window painted Christmas decals, strung up lights, and a limp paper Canadian flag. This along side bundles of fake flora protruding from wall mounted urns gave the place a cluttered attic feel. It was all very peculiar. Though it was clear no one seated here tonight was in to enjoy the view.

The menu was your usual list of Vietnamese classics: pho noodle soup, rice dishes, vermicelli, and toasted baguettes. Curious enough, the appetizers were listed on last page with drinks and desserts, and the menu began with ooh choices. Given their listing of every variation possible to pho we asked for our server’s recommendations. He was a very friendly older gentleman. He did his best to bridge the language barrier. Wanting to find the ideal bowl of soup for us, he broke their most population choices down by race. Filipinos liked the seafood noodles, Chinese patrons preferred the basic beef pho noodles soup, and for beginners and my guest with a European background he suggested either the vegetable or chicken based noodles. Little did he know, she was as an adventurous of an eater as myself. Once again I found his service great, he was attentive, checking in on us often, always with a smile on face. The younger man working alongside him on the other hand seemed to move about with a chip on his shoulder. It was clear he was here just for a paycheque, and rathered not engage in his guests. Though unfortunately that seems to be the norm at most Asian places.

As I made mentioned earlier, the florescent track lights were attention holding, but a hinderance on my photos.

IMG_2330IMG_2329

Our drink order was couriered to us from the side corridor, as a posed to the window pass like all the other dishes. A woman approached us out of no where. And confusion ensured as she took minutes explaining her inability to prepare the kiwi milkshake my guest originally requested. In its place we got a sweetened avocado milkshake. If you hate avocado you defiantly wouldn’t like this, though realistically would you have ordered it if that was the case. The taste of the vegetable came right through, along with its creamy texture. Though there were still some chunks leftover that got in the way of using a straw. As a whole the drink was a little more challenging to finish, with the desire for less avocado and more cream. All the sugar ended up on bottom of the glass, so the last sips were the best.

IMG_2328IMG_2326

“Red bean with coconut milk and ice”. Served with both a straw and a spoon. A straw for sipping the melted ice and milk, and a lengthy spoon for digging out the beans and jelly. I was impressed by the actual chunks of coconut, and use to the grainy texture that accompanies most red bean desserts. This is a very traditional dessert. You either like it or you don’t. Growing up with these flavours they reminded me of my childhood.

IMG_2321IMG_2332

We were automatically given a fork to use with our share plates. This despite my guest being more fluent in chopstick use than most Mediterraneans, and even myself. She stuck with her chopsticks and I held firmly on to my fork.

IMG_2344IMG_2345

“Special Vietnamese sub”. The fresh bread was crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle. Along with the crunchy sticks of pickled vegetables and the smooth pate, this dish had a great contrast of textures. With oyster perfect mix of everything and its solid flavours we deemed this the best order of the night.

IMG_2333

“Vietnamese spring rolls”. Overcooked with blackened shell and charred taste, these were very disappointing. We were unable to make out the actual ingredients inside. Though at $2, were willing to eat through our grievances. They at least maintained their crunch and everything decent soaked in the dish fish sauce we asked for.

IMG_2337IMG_2338

“Grilled chicken and spring roll with vermicelli”. Like the spring roll appetizers, this roll was burnt and over cooked. Naturally, given that they were probably made all together in the same batch. I appreciated the extra attention to the raw cucumbers. They were sliced with a segregated edge. The detail reminded me of crinkle cut fries. There was no real flavour to them and this dish. The chicken was slightly dry and lacked seasoning. And two bowls of fish sauce were no help rectifying any of this. Though together the bowl was a healthy mix of ingredients, generous in chopped peanuts.

IMG_2342IMG_2341

Usually pho comes first, but today this was the last order to land on our table. This was disappointing as I like starting with hot food first, especially on an empty stomach. “Rare steak, flank, tendon, tripe and brisket pho”. We originally choose the large size over the x-large. Though after writing down our entire order our server suggested we go for the small instead, in order to fit all that we wanted in our bellies. The smaller portion meant we didn’t get to see enough of the meat variety listed above. Overall this was avery standard serving. A rich soup that we added eventually added the usual brown sauce to.

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.
There was really nothing about this place that set it apart from other Vietnamese restaurants. The decor was an eye sore, the menu was a sea of familiarity; and food was good, but average. Though judging by its location and the surrounding area, it was one of a kind. This was the only place in the neighbourhood for pho, this late at night. So given the time and place, I wouldn’t mind finding myself here again. Don’t deny your cravings.

GOLD TRAIN EXPRESS
3320 Kingsway, Vancouver BC, V5R5L1
604-433-7577
Gold Train Express Vietnamese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén