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Ho Yuen Cafe, new summer menu

This is the perfect example of the right time at the right place.

On this day I would be in the outlier vicinity of where Ho Yuen Cafe is located, for work. So thought to come by earlier to have lunch for one. My initial visit months ago, gave me my first taste of Hong Kong style breakfast, when they had first opened. I came in not knowing what to expect and left with an average impression. However, I never write a new restaurant off, as they are allowed to open, serve their food, take feedback, and improve; and this was the case today.

They are still just as busy as when I first visited. A line serving lunch to all the surrounding businesses this Friday afternoon. With nothing else in the area and their affordable and quick menu, they are a great addition to the neighbourhood.

You write your name on the clipboard by the door if you wish to dine in. I had no issue taking a small table on the patio, so was seated right away. The sun was out and hot, so if you don’t mind it and the stray pollen floating around, you will be served right away. I only had 50 minutes to spare and that was ample time. The staff are prompt and the food comes out relatively fast.

I originally came in for the bbq pork on rice, but was persuaded otherwise when I caught the owner’s attention. She mentioned new items that have yet to make it on to the menu, so naturally I had to try them.

The first was their new pineapple bun of the month, a rotating flavour released the first of each month, and in this case that would be this Monday for June. It is basically a dessert sando, a fresh plain pineapple bun, sliced in half and filled with a house made pineapple whip cream and real pineapple pieces.

This was leaps and bounds better than the plain pineapple bun and chocolate one I had previously. It was lighter and fluffier and ate like a gourmet dessert. The cream filling was just as light and fluffy. There wasn’t too much of it, just enough for a little to ooze out when you bit in. The cream itself was also not too sweet, pleasant with a whisper of the tropical fruit. Most of the flavour came from the actual shredded pineapple pieces blended into the cream, and the three chunks placed on top of it. The bites with the latter were the best, really offering a pops of juice that gushed in your mouth. This is definitely best fresh, so I made sure to eat it all in one sitting, before I moved onto my savoury entrée.

Another soon to on the menu (with no actual launch date yet) is a homemade Singaporean Kaya toast. I am from that neck of the woods, so knew exactly what Kaya was and was excited to try it. The only difference is that they have added butter to theirs. The sandwich is cut up decoratively into quarters, each a 2-3 bite sized piece, each with its own solid slice of butter.

I was not use to the latter being in the mix, but did find that it added a nice saltiness to the otherwise sweet toast spread. Although I would have liked less of it, for the sake of my cholesterol, and it did somewhat overwhelm the toast. Though visually for the photo, it was perfect as is. Sadly I did not actually get any of the pandan or coconut flavour that Kaya is known for, but as buttered toast, the bread was perfectly crisped for a most satisfying crunch.

And just as I was about to head out, I got tempted back to my seat the prospect of a new savoury pineapple bun. This one is still in the testing and development phase, and I would be one of the firsts to try and offer feedback on it. I have always dreamt of a job where I got to try new foods/dishes and was able to be honest about what I thought. (Which is the reason why I started this blog. If you can’t find it, make it!)

This is their classic pineapple bun stuffed with mozzarella cheese, served warm for what should be an amazing cheese pull. I enjoy savoury items over sweet, so was already a fan. My suggestion was that there should be more cheese for a more even doughy bread to cheese ratio. To achieve this it would be better to have a round bun, instead of oblong, so that all of the cheese is centralized. And better yet have them in mini versions, 3 to plate and advertise it as a snack; an Asian take on a cheesy pull apart. And for extra you can add on a tangy dipping sauce, but instead of the classic marinara, make their take on a tangy tomato-based sauce with spam. The owner took my notes and commented that I was creative (I like to think I am).

As for what I originally came in for: a savoury lunch. The owner asked what I had last time, trying to suggest something different to try. Although she did make note that they had improved on their tomato and spam macaroni, a dish I had issue with and was honest about in my review. When I return in the future I would like to see if this is the case.

She then suggested the baked pork chop, but seeing as I had a time limit, and that would take longer to prepare, it was dismissed. Instead, I went with the beef brisket with daikon over rice. This is a dish I like and normally would gravitate towards. It is served separated rice and stew, so that you can decide how much of the sauce you want over your still steaming rice, and how soggy it will become as a result.

The brisket was perfectly prepared. Each chunk the ideal balance of fatty sinew to firm, but soften meat. The daikon was easy to slice into, carrying the flavour of the stew. I just wish there was more of it. It was a thin broth, with the consistency of soup. Whereas I wanted a thicker, more syrupy sauce, something to coat the rice like a saltier gravy. But over all, this was a comforting and homey dish, I finished it all, and only left some plain rice behind.

To drink I had their fresh lemon tea, ideal for my time in the sun. It is made made with actual lemon fruit ground and mixed in. It was so refreshing and complimentary to the meal. I highly recommend this, and also as a cooling beverage for summer.

In short, I am so glad I came back on the off chance. I fully enjoyed my meal, and will not hesitate to recommend them in the future. In fact, I did just that when I went to meet up with my client after lunch.

Ho Yuen Cafe
#113 – 1750 W 75th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6P 6G2
(226) 368-3891

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