I have been meaning to check out this Chinese style dessert cafe. Though I am less likely to drive all the way out to the Marpole area just to do so, or for many restaurants in general. So when the timing was right and I found my way out there, I made sure to stop in for a snack.
Here, we were treated with some of the best customer service from any cafe, let alone one where language may be a barrier. Our server seemed aware that this our first time visiting, (it might have been all the photos I was taking). He was patience with us, as we asked all our questions and expressed all our dietary restrictions. There were suggestion and check ins, plus the invitation to return and try a few that he thought we should have had this round.
The interior was just as inviting as he was. It was so much fun. Bold lines and strong colours transformed this open space dining area into a cartoonish cityscape with skyscrapers, Chinese characters in neon, and tiny people in paint. And to bring it all to life, a red paper dragon snaking along the ceiling. It felt like a celebration eating with it as our backdrop.
We grabbed one of their black painted tables, each one is decorated with quotes or frames written/drawn in white chalk paint. When seated we took to reading their novel of a menu. It is lengthy, but informative, helpful for those who aren’t entirely familiar with all the items they are reading. It was nice to know what things were in any given dish, and when you have the option to enjoy it hot or cold. Drinks and desserts are arranged in groupings for easy reading, along with photos that help in the ordering process.
When they first opened they garnered a lot of attention from their spin on the bulldog. This isn’t a margarita and there isn’t a beer waiting for you in it, but this non alcoholic beverage features the bringing together of one drink into another like Ribena into Sprite or ginger ale into fruit punch. We got their most popular, the “Vitasoy milk with red bean bulldog”. When the milk hits the bean you get a milky drink that reminded me of cookies and cream in its colour and taste, more so the “cream” part, but not too sweet. There was very little whole red beans, which I was happy for, so that the drink wouldn’t be too grainy with it mashed up.
And just looking at a photo of their latest dessert special, I had to have it. For novelty alone this one is fun. “Handmade red bean coconut pudding mahjong tiles”, served with a red bean paste dip and rice paper bills in USD and HKD. An interactive dessert with 13 pieces to snack on for $19.88. I was very impressed by the idea and its execution. The details stamped on to each tile was perfect. Together the set looked real enough to play with, but squisher. Even the platter it is served on was well thought out, a mini mimic of a mahjong table with green velvet table topper.
As for its flavour it was a mild dessert, the dip was great at allowing you to decide what you wanted to taste more of: the coconut milk in the tile or the sweetened red bean in the sauce. Though if it were me, I would order it more for its texture than taste. You want it for its jello-meets pudding texture, a fun gelatin to bite into and suck up between clenched top and bottom row of teeth. It was as fun to play with as it was the eat.
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.
This is definitely one of those places worth travelling to. A unique spot for some pretty creative desserts, the kind you see online and when you click on the photo to learn more about it, are disappointed that it is only offered at a restaurant in Asia. Cute wooden buckets of tofu, a snack set with 9 different samples of their hot and cold sweet soups, and smoothies. They even have savoury street snacks for those who want a little salt with their sugar. But be warned payment is only possible as cash or Canadian debt, a note that I appreciate being posted on their front door. Don’t deny your cravings.