Thursday, 21 August 2014

Save on Meats: Build Your Own Burger

The storefront of Save on Meats may not stand out if you're just walking past it but the name is fairly well known for Vancouverites with it being featured on TV and social media. Prior to coming I didn't know that the restaurant works with local organizations to help those in need in the downtown east side.

On a weekday early evening there weren't many people in the restaurant. I believe it was renovated not long ago with the cracked seats on the booth benches being one of the few giveaways that the restaurant is much older. 

I opted for the build-your-own burger option where you can choose between meat or veggie patties, toppings, sauce and a choice of side. I opted for beef patties (it came with two pieces), cheese, cucumber, tomato, lettuce and pickles all with the SOM Smear. The SOM Smear is their in house sauce that includes a few sauces like hot sauce. My side salad was dressed with thousand island dressing.

I had heard great reviews about this place and their burger is famous so I suppose my expectation was very high. In general it was similar to burgers you can find at other restaurants. The beef patties may be more fresh than restaurants that don't use local ingredients but it didn't make a huge difference for the burger as a whole. The burger did taste good just not rave worthy. 

Overall this visit to Save on Meats checked off one of the restaurants I've been wanting to try for awhile in Vancouver but I don't think I'll think of this place first when I want burgers. 

Save On Meats on Urbanspoon


Hakata Ramen: Mediocre food

Hakata Ramen is located diagonally across the street from the Richmond Public Market which is generally a pretty busy area. But the restaurant space itself has turned over many times over the years and its most recent tenant is Hakata Ramen.

There was a promotion for a free takoyaki if you spend at least $25. The most expensive ramen cost $10.95 so to claim the deal you'd need a few people. The takoyaki itself is only $4.95 though so you can always purchase it as a side.

The curry ramen tasted like instant ramen broth. I was expecting it to taste more like Japanese curry but this broth was closer to the kind of curry broth you'd get from Indomie instant noodles. There were pieces of bamboo shoot and a good amount of pork slices. However the pork wasn't fresh and had a defrosted aftertaste.

Curry ramen ($9.95)
There are combos to choose from where you pick a ramen and add a few dollars for a don (rice bowl). We got the Pork Rib Ramen with Ikura Don. The ramen broth wasn't rich or aromatic enough. There was one large piece of pork rib that was marinated thoroughly.

Pork Rib Ramen ($10.95)

The Ikura Don consisted of Japanese mayo, egg slices and fish eggs on top of a bowl of white rice. It was bland tasting and honestly not very attractive.

Ikura Don (with combo $3)
We ordered an agedashi tofu to reach the $25 mark. There were four pieces and it was mediocre. It didn't have that great agedashi tofu quality where when you eat it you're amazed by the crunchiness of the outside, the softness of the tofu inside and the good balance of sauce. This tofu didn't taste bad but it didn't amaze.

Agedashi tofu ($2.95)
Lastly, the takoyaki came with six pieces and each ball had at least one piece of octopus. It tasted similar to night market ones. There was adequate mayo but I would've preferred if there was more takoyaki sauce because otherwise the batter itself is quite bland.

Takoyaki ($4.95)
Overall there are so many great ramen locations in Vancouver like Marutama Ramen that I won't be visiting Hakata Ramen again. 

Hakata Ramen on Urbanspoon


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Smokes Poutinerie: Perogy Poutine

Going for a snack we went to Smoke's Poutinerie and tried their perogy poutine which was listed as selling for a limited time only.

The perogy pieces were deep fried and there was a dollop of sour cream and sprinkled bacon on top of the poutine. The perogy pieces weren't anything special and were similar to ones you can find in the frozen section of the grocery store. The gravy for the poutine wasn't that thick but flavourful and there was an adequate amount of cheese curds. Although there was probably a lot of sodium in this, it didn't taste too salty which was good.

Smoke's Poutinerie on Urbanspoon


Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Uncle Lu: Three Cup Chicken

Uncle Lu is famous for their pork trotter but I ordered the three cup chicken meal instead. I did try a piece of my friend's pork trotter and it had a jelly-like texture with a soy sauce-like marinade.

There was a lot of chicken in my meal and I liked that they were cut into small enough pieces for easy eating. The chicken was flavourful and cooked on very high heat because some pieces were crispy.

Not pictured was my milk green tea with pearls that I really enjoyed. The milk was frothy with a hint of matcha flavour and the pearls were chewy.

Overall I may want to return for more bubble tea and this Taiwanese joint seems less catered to youth than some other ones because there were more adults eating here when I went for dinner. Though that it just a guess.

Uncle Lu 安可盧萬巒豬腳 on Urbanspoon


Monday, 18 August 2014

Leonidas: More Macarons!

Macarons are some of my favourite things to try because they're small and difficult to make. We went to Leonida's at Waterfront and was pleasantly surprised. The small shop only has a few small tables. They sold an assortment of macarons, baked goods and chocolate.

Each macaron is $2 each and they were chewy, not overly sweet and contained the same flavour as the name. I've tried some macarons at other places that didn't taste anything like their name before.

Light pink: rose water; brown: hazelnut; cream: coconut; blue: earl grey; purple: cassis; green: green tea. My favourites were the coconut, rose water and green tea. These had the freshest flavour to me and made for a great dessert snack.

Overall Leonida's is a good location looking out on the cruises docked outside the Pan Pacific and their macarons are delicious!

Leonidas on Urbanspoon


Sunday, 17 August 2014

Strike (Richmond): Taiwanese Teppanyaki Steak

When I saw the sign for Strike I always thought it was a pool joint but apparently it served Taiwanese food. There were photos of scenes in Taiwan on the walls but otherwise the interior is simple with rows of tables and chairs.

I got the teppanyaki beef steak with mushroom sauce and rice. These hot plate dishes usually overcook the beef but it wasn't here although the meat was marinated so thoroughly that it lost any beef taste. The mushroom sauce was flavourful and mixed nicely with the egg.

Overall it is a good location for a large group and their service is quick but it is similar to many other Taiwanese restaurants.

Strike 破店 (Richmond) on Urbanspoon


Saturday, 16 August 2014

Flying Beaver: Bison Beef Burger

Flying Beaver was always one of those restaurants that I've heard of but never tried due to the location. It is near the airport but only if you drive. You cannot take public transit there and it is not close to anything else.

There was a family with children that weren't allowed in because they had minors. I suppose the entire restaurant is treated like a bar and those under 19 couldn't dine here. On a weekend evening most of the tables were full and especially the outdoor patio ones where you can look over the river.

I ordered a bison beef burger which came with a side salad. The salad had assorted greens, cheese and dried cranberry pieces which made it suitable for summer. The burger patty was pretty juicy and the cheese and vinegar on top made it flavourful. Romer's Burger still makes my favourite burger.

Overall Flying Beaver is a good spot for casual dining and getting together with friends. The view is pretty nice on a summer evening before the sun sets and there is adequate parking in the lot across the street.

Flying Beaver Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon


Friday, 15 August 2014

Famoso Pizzeria (Commercial): Margherita Pizzetta

After walking past Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria on Italian Day I wanted to go back to try it. It's a chain store with restaurants in Alberta and BC. There were TVs on the wall and you can see the oven for the freshly made pizza.

I ordered a margherita pizzetta lunch deal which is only half the size of a regular pizza with a roasted tomato bisque. I thoroughly enjoyed the tomato bisque because it was creamy and I just love tomatoes. My only complaint is that it was not hot enough. The margherita pizza tasted good with a chewy crust, fresh tomato sauce and moderate amount of cheese. However, the crust in the middle of the pizza was slightly soggy and not firm enough to enable you to cut a slice and hold it up to eat. It would flop over. I've been to other great pizza places where it didn't flop over even on a thin crust.

Pizzetta with a side ($10)
Overall I'm still curious to try the other pizza flavours at Famoso and I hope the crust won't be soggy next time!

Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria (Commercial Drive) on Urbanspoon


Thursday, 14 August 2014

Dasarang Chicken: KFC stands for Korean Fried Chicken!

After watching the Korean drama, "My Love from Another Star" I've been wanting to try Korean fried chicken since the main character always mentions it. The search for the chicken brought me to Dasarang Chicken in Coquitlam which is only a short drive from Lougheed Mall.

There weren't any customers when we went to eat on a weekday for lunch and during our time there only another two people came in. It's a fried chicken and beer kind of place so there should be more people in the evening.

We ordered the yangnyeom chicken which is fried chicken mixed in a spicy but sweet sauce and sprinkled with sesame. The chicken was boneless so it was easy to eat and each piece was thoroughly coated with the sauce. The photo below is one portion and costs a little under $20. The two of us couldn't finish it and we didn't even order anything else! The fried chicken is very filling.

Overall this is the kind of fried chicken I would crave, sorry Kentucky Fried Chicken. Though the portions are definitely big and you should go with more people if you want to try other things on the menu.

Dasarang Chicken on Urbanspoon


Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Charles Bar: $10 Lunches

The Charles Bar is where the Woodwards Building is with an outdoor patio and large TV screens inside. We were there for lunch and there weren't that many customers at the restaurant.

They have a $10 lunch special menu and this one is the Crunchy Chicken Sandwich. It has buttermilk fried chicken, arugula, pickled red onion and mayonnaise all on a brioche bun. The fried chicken was crispy and paired well with the slightly sweet bun.

Crunchy chicken sandwich ($10)
I ordered the lunch special of the day for $13 which had fried shrimp, tomato and lettuce between a baguette-like bun. The fried shrimp was crispy and I liked the mayonnaise-chipotle sauce on top but the sandwich as a whole was difficult to chew. The bread was too tough so I couldn't bite through it. Even with a knife it took some effort to cut it into edible pieces. The side salad was pretty fresh with tomatoes, spinach, beats and carrot.

Fried shrimp sandwich ($13)
Overall The Charles Bar is similar to other establishments that offer comparable menu items. I wouldn't necessarily think of coming to eat here if I was thinking of the Gastown area.

The Charles Bar on Urbanspoon


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Torarenbo: Rainbow Roll

The last time I wrote about Torarenbo was in 2012 about their lobster sashimi, which by the way is still on their menu. This time we sat at the sushi bar which was a different experience than sitting at the table. The busy chefs and the busy restaurant worked well together to produce the food with efficiency.

The rainbow roll is a california roll made with thin egg sheets instead of seaweed and topped with salmon, tuna, or shrimp. I found it interesting that they used egg sheets instead of seaweed but the egg is so thin that you can't even taste it. It takes more skill to make the delicate egg than to just use the seaweed sheets though.

Rainbow roll
The grilled black cod is slightly sweet like teriyaki sauce and is dipped into the creamy mayonnaise. The fish meat was firm and there is more bone than meat. It makes a good appetizer.

Grilled black cod
The kimchi hot pot was a mixture of kimchi, vegetables, tofu and pork slices. The soup was slightly spicy and it is not a must order dish. If you're looking to include more vegetables in your meal then perhaps this is a possible choice.

Kimchi hot pot
Overall it was another good meal at Torarenbo. They don't serve the best Japanese food in Vancouver but they're affordable, the service is quick and it will satisfy your Japanese food craving.

Torarenbo Japanese Restaurant 虎連坊 on Urbanspoon


Monday, 11 August 2014

Silver Reef Casino Buffet: Seafood Night

Silver Reef Casino Buffet is nearby Bellingham for those Vancouverites who do day trips to the US. However it is impossible to go without a car.

It is open 5-10pm for dinner and we went during a seafood dinner night which costs $27.95 per adult. If you're 21 or over, you can register at the casino counter for a $5 voucher to any food facility and you don't even have to gamble.

This isn't a buffet where you have to walk around a lot to see all of the food offered. All the food is along one side of the wall and there aren't as many choices as bigger buffets but it's decent. The seafood section had three types of crab legs including snow crab and Alaska king crab. There were baked oysters and shrimp.

Another station had meat and fried food and another with a salad bar. My favourite station was the pasta one where you could choose the pasta, sauce and ingredients of your choice. Then the chef will make it fresh for you at the station. I thoroughly enjoyed my pesto alfredo fettucine with shrimp and mushroom.

Lastly there's a dessert station with pies, cupcakes, cake pops, tarts, cake and ice cream. The desserts weren't that special and most were too sweet for my taste. I liked the vanilla ice cream but it was store bought.

Overall if you're going on the seafood night then indulge on the crab legs offered!

The Buffet at Silver Reef Casino on Urbanspoon


Sunday, 10 August 2014

Phnom Penh: Bad Banh Xeo

The last time I went to Phnom Penh was a year ago, you can read about it here. I was very impressed by the fried chicken wings and had a good dining experience. In contrast, this time wasn't as great. Everyone who has eaten here knows there's almost always a line up to eat here. We went during dinner time and was told that it would be a 45 minute wait. The 45 minute waited turned into 1 hour and 5 minutes. I would wait 30 minutes for food here but I would not wait for over an hour again.

Finally we were seated at 8pm and fortunately the food came quickly. I heard the beef carpaccio is well known here so we ordered that. It was different looking than the ones I tried at Joe Fortes, at Hapa Izakaya and at Ebisu. At the other restaurants the slices of meat were separated and could be picked up one by one but this one the meat was a big round piece. There was a lot of vinegar and cilantro on top which overpowered any taste of the beef. Though the beef was thinly sliced and tender in itself.

Beef carpaccio
When I went to Vietnam I loved the banh xeo there. I was excited to see that it was on the menu so I ordered it and it was very disappointing. It didn't even compare to the streetside ones with minimal ingredients that I tried in Vietnam. The egg and flour batter was too thick and the whole thing was generally bland tasting. There was some shrimp and too much bean sprout wedged inside which made the entire banh xeo soggy and falling apart. Do not recommend if you've tried authentic ones.

Banh xeo
Another thing we tried that was only mediocre were these steamed buns with pork, radish and dried shrimp inside. It was like a larger, rounded version of dumplings you can easily find at dim sum restaurants. The vinegar accompanying the dish was quite strong.

Overall I'd stick with what's popular on the Phnom Penh menu which are the chicken wings, the noodles and the rice dishes. The other menu items we tried that are famous in the home country weren't good here.

Phnom Penh on Urbanspoon


Saturday, 9 August 2014

Mom's Grilled Cheese Truck

The last time I walked past Mom's Grilled Cheese Truck there was long line up so I didn't eat there. This time around 3pm in the afternoon there wasn't a line so we ordered the special of the day. The other customers in line seemed to be regulars and they were chatting with the truck owner about her food.

The food truck was parked next to the Vancouver Art Gallery and there were benches under trees where you can eat your grilled cheese shaded.

Mom's Grilled Cheese Truck
The special we ordered had sourdough bread, bacon, avocado, cheddar and mozzarella cheese. Each side of the pieces of bread were buttered so they were very crispy when baked. The cheese locked all the ingredients together and was melted thoroughly. It was very delicious.

The large sandwich is packaged in a cone shape with two pieces of pickle and a handful of Hardbite chips at the bottom of the cone. It is definitely a meal in a cone. However, one sandwich order was too filling for me and I wish there was an option for a half-order or a smaller size.

Special of the day ($10)
Overall I'd likely order from here again if I pass by it and there's someone to share with!

Mom's Grilled Cheese Truck on Urbanspoon


Friday, 8 August 2014

Chewies: Alligator Meat!

I've been craving for raw oysters since I ate it last year at Joe Fortes. Surely more than a year wait is too long! Chewies Steam and Oyster Bar has daily buck-a-shuck (aka $1 per oyster) from 3 to 6pm. We went around 4pm on a Friday and there were only a few tables. Online I read that the service can be spotty during happy hour but our server was very attentive and we didn't have any problems.

The oysters for a buck that day were from Vancouver Island though I forgot the name. It came with horse radish and four house-made sauces that ranged in spiciness. Even the spiciest one wasn't that spicy to me though I enjoyed all the sauces with some made with red wine and others more vinegar based. The oysters were very fresh and well cleaned.

Raw oysters ($1 each)
During happy hour the appetizers, called first bites, are half-priced so we tried two. An appetizer name that stood out to us was Chicken Fried Gator and Hush Puppies. After asking the server, he confirmed that it was alligator meat deep fried like chicken and hush puppies are fried corn bread. The alligator meat was like a cross between fish and chicken, it was chewy but more moist than chicken. It came with jalapeno jelly to dip which wasn't that spicy.

Chicken fried gator and hush puppies ($13.5)
The other appetizer we got was the Pork Belly Cracklin' which reminded me of Chinese BBQ pork but thoroughly deep fried. The skin was crispy and the layers of fat and meat melted in the mouth. Though some pieces were tough because it was overly fried. I liked the Cajun sweet and sour apple sauce that came with it because the sourness made the pork belly a little less filling.

Pork Belly Cracklin' ($10.5)
Overall it was a great small meal at Chewies. Correction, small but very filling since it was mostly fried food. They're building an outdoor patio which I'm not sure will be finished by the end of this summer. If not I'd surely go visit it next summer.

Chewies Steam & Oyster Bar - Coal Harbour on Urbanspoon


Thursday, 7 August 2014

Guu Otokomae: Mushroom Cheese Bibimbap

I like eating Japanese izakaya because you get to try many small dishes. Guu Otokomae is only open in the evenings and didn't take reservations when I called. Luckily we didn't have to wait longer than 15 minutes before we were seated in the packed restaurant.

Salmon with Seven Friends: diced wild sockeye, natto, picked cucumber, picked daikon, garlic chips, crispy wonton, green onions, diced cucumber, fresh egg yolk, miso and garlic sauce. Our server thoroughly mixed the "seven friends" for us and showed us how to scoop a spoonful of the mixture onto the square pieces of roasted seaweed, wrap it up and eat. There were so many flavours in each bite and the coolness of the salmon made it a perfect summer snack. It's also a perfect sharing dish.

Salmon with 7 friends ($8)
Takoyaki: deep fried balled octopus batter with tonkatsu sauce, wasabi mayo, mustard mayo, bonito flakes and dried seaweed. I love eating takoyaki at the night market but they're always made in such a big rush that the quality lacks. The takoyaki here came hot and each bite had octopus bits. Yum.

Takoyaki ($5)
Duck and Popeye: red wine and soy sauce braised duck breast on sauteed mushrooms and fresh spinach. This was my least favourite dish that we ordered. The mushrooms were too salty and the duck breast had an aftertaste that I didn't prefer. Perhaps it was too raw for me.

Duck and popeye ($9.8)
The grilled pork cheek was delicious. It was tender with a good balance of fat and meat and grilled in a slightly sweet sauce. You should try this!

Grilled pork cheek
The grilled squid was another favourite with the slightly sweet sauce and tender flesh. The thick creamy mayo made it even better.

Grilled squid
Mushroom cheese bibimbap: white rice with sauteed mushroom, cheese, dried seaweed, green onions and seaweed sauce. When we mixed the ingredients inside the hot stone bowl the aroma came spiraling out. It was another flavourful dish and the cheese made it feel like a Japanese risotto. It's a filling bowl though so if you can, share it so you can try more of the delicious dishes at Guu Otokomae!

Overall it was a pleasant dining experience here with nimble service and getting our food quickly. Next time I'd probably go earlier in the evening so avoid the crowds since it is a popular restaurant.

Guu Otokomae on Urbanspoon