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Boy With A Knife / BWAK

We were looking for a place to eat within Richmond. Based on the group’s preferences, the criteria included nothing ethnic, and preferably burgers. And for me, not a chain restaurant, to be able to write a review for this blog. The conclusion: BWAK. One of us lives in the area and suggested Boy With A Knife, a cafe she has yet to visit herself for more than a beer at a time.

The name may be familiar for those who are already aware of this catering company turned full blown sit down restaurant. Located within an industrial commercial space in Richmond, you wouldn’t immediately think to roam the area looking for a lunch stop. So immediately we were taken aback by this cafe’s presence and set up. Many other such cafes servicing the workers in their surrounding warehouses are cut and paste. This mom and pop shops tend to put very little into the decor and menu, simply having it serve as a quick and inexpensive lunch option.

Therefore the glass front with vinyl stickering and picnic table seating increased our anticipation. Not to mention what was behind the counter that greeted us therein, was impressive as well. A refrigerated glass unit showcasing several preamade sandwiches, wraps, and side salads and pastas to take out and go.

But we would bypass all this and have our awe fully extended. We travelled down the hall to the right, and the space opened up to reveal a full restaurant, with an additional patio at the back. I was immediately excited, hoping I had discovered a hidden gem to share with you all here. However, this was not meant to be, as none of us found that the food measured up to our first blush impression of the space.

With a menu that reads salads, hot dogs, bowls, and burgers it sounded like an easy win; especially as the options under each category was diverse with an assortment of unique and familiar ingredients. And when our plates arrived they were picturesque. The following is what everyone ordered. I was unable to try everything, but took the notes each individual gave to me, and it echoed my own sentiments at the very end.

The Stinky Pete had the catchiest name, it was ordered with a side of fries over salad and paired with a side of garlic mayo. Beef patty, sautéed mushrooms, blue cheese, caramelized onion, lettuce, and garlic mayo. What sounded like a taste explosion was correct. All the punchy elements ended up fighting one another with the blue cheese being overkill. The saving grace would have been a nice juicy beef patty at medium rare, but it was a little well and not as flavourful as a result.

The Blackened chicken sandwich featured a spicy Cajun seasoned chicken breast, cheddar cheese, bacon, tomato, red onion, and garlic mayo. The chicken was well seasoned with plenty of spices, but the breast meat was tough and the sandwich as a whole lacked lustre. The upgraded garlic parm fries was the best part of the plate. Piled high, crispy and full of cheesy goodness.

The Pork belly banh mi didn’t deliver on expectations. When you read banh mi you think crispy baguette and pickled vegetables. This was more a banh mi inspired burger, and once you kept that in mind it was pretty good. Crispy pork belly, du cha (couldn’t find the definition online), cucumber, cilantro, sriracha hoisin sauce, and a shallot sauce; all on a ciabatta bun. The pork belly was on the leaner side and was well prepared. You were just missing the sour tang from a good pickled carrot or daikon. The cucumber gave you the freshness you wanted, and the sauces plenty of flavours, but you were still left missing something.

I ordered the Storph, not being able order any of the above, as I always try to try as many different menu items at any given restaurant. This so that I can complete a more fulsome review, and get a better sense of the establishment. My first choice would have been for blue cheese, and the second: pork belly.

But the Storph it was: an Italian inspired burger with crispy fried chicken, salami, provolone, roasted red peppers, arugula, truffle honey, and garlic mayo. The ingredients listed had the burger reading more flavourful than it actually was. I didn’t get any truffle, and that is hard to miss when it is present. The honey would have been nice as a sweet factor; to balance out the salami, if there was more than one slice, and it was as salty as cured meats tend to be typically. The flavour of roasted red pepper was also absent for me, not that I noticed it in the moment. The overcooked chicken breast dominated, and left my mouth feeling dry. But at least the breading was crispy as promised. Sadly this would have been easily remedied with a tangy grainy mustard or a sweet honey barbecue-eque dip.

As a side I regretfully ordered the poutine. Everyone enjoyed their regular shoe string fries, but mine was overly salty due to the gravy. Of which gave me teriyaki notes.

Overall our initial taste didn’t live up to the hype of the space, and we visited at an off time, so maybe this is an outlier of an experience. I would definitely like to return to try one of their hot dogs or bowls, to see how they do with that. And maybe enjoy it with a drink on their patio? But that would have to wait until warmer weather season.

Boy With A Knife
3331 Viking Way #7, Richmond, BC V6V 1X7
(604) 278-0543

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