Tag Archives: Restaurant

CAFE CREPE – 796 Granville St. Vancouver, BC, Canada (604) 806-0834 ‎

13 Apr

PRICE: $4-10

Many of you already know that taking photos is now my new phobia, thanks to an unfortunate circumstance that can be described here.  However, I’ve done my best to learn from being kicked out of a restaurant and now try to politely ask as before I point and shoot (with a camera, nothing else, I swear!).  Often times my question is greeted with a raised eyebrow, followed by awkward hesitation, followed by the usual “uh…let me get my manager” spiel.  It’s pretty tiring to deal with

Fortunately, there are occasions when I meet people who are just dying to get themselves on camera.  There are a few good sports out there when it comes to taking photos, and I was lucky enough to encounter them during my visit to Café Crepe.

So let’s fast forward.  I’m at the entrance to the outlet and I approach the cook on duty regarding a possible photo-op.

“There are a few good sports out there when it comes to taking photos, and I was lucky enough to encounter them during my visit to Café Crepe.”

Mind you, as I’m talking, I’m still being given the ‘deer in the headlights’ look, but eventually a certain kind of playfulness is awakened when the manager comes forward to give the okay.

After the modelling session finishes, I’m pleased to sit down on a patio (for the second time this year the weather was cooperative on my day off work) and enjoy some chow with a friend.

Two Crepes arrive on the hand-out plane.  I grab both, one in each hand.  A Prosciutto and Brie Cheese Crepe and a Smoked Meat Crepe adorned with Dijon Mustard and Swiss Cheese.  A Soy Mocha to drink and a scoop of Ice Cream to finish.

After I’ve brought them back to the patio, me and my foodie compatriot begin to munch, catch up with each other and enjoy the weather.

The Crepes are savoury and satisfying.  Prosciutto and Brie Cheese complement each other quite well, with a strong salty punch from the Prosciutto giving way to the smoother, more balanced, savoury sensation of the Cheese.  Smoked Meat provides a wistful taste of Montreal while the Dijon Mustard and Swiss Cheese deliver the Vinegary and subtle Cheese aftertaste.

The Soy Mocha is pretty meh.  The Chocolate isn’t very defined in taste.  It feels more like drinking a Latte.

The Ice Cream is generic Vanilla, but still satisfying.

After having finished a good snack, I look at the staff who are now busy handling the late-noon rush.

They’re still smiling for the camera.

Cafe Crepe (Granville & Robson) on Urbanspoon

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PHO 99 VIETNAMESE NOODLE HOUSE – 8611 Alexandra Rd, Richmond, BC, Canada (604) 278-6363

10 Apr

PRICE: $5-15

Here we go.  We go through a small alley way and find ourselves in a dark parking lot.  It feels isolated.  Almost shady.  We park our pick-up truck.  Yes, we are probably the only Asians in the Lower Mainland that use a pick-up truck.  Feeling like a team of yellow hillbillies, we walk towards our destination.  It’s a dirty, dank looking building.  There’s a sign that tells us to enter through the back door.  I feel like I’m about to take part in a drug deal.

We open the door, and I’m expecting to find of dudes dressed in baggy clothes and wearing distastefully large amounts of bling.

We crack the door open a bit further.

I’m pleased to find that instead of baggy-clothed criminals, I’m greeted by a variety of lily-pads sitting atop a small water fountain.  Coconut trees line the walls.  White tiles populate the floors, and small tables are dispersed throughout the room.  They have a simple economic look, with black chairs standing by them.

“I’m pleased to find that instead of baggy-clothed criminals, I’m greeted by a variety of lily-pads sitting atop a small water fountain.”

We sit down, pop up the menus, and begin to order.  Afterwards, we sit back and wait.  The evening entertainment consists of us trying to figure out what our hosts are gossiping about in Vietnamese.  Boyfriends?  Friends?  Us?  Eh, this game is too much work.  Instead, I start dubbing in sentences over their mouths in my imagination.  Like the badly translated version of a Chinese movie dubbed in English.

“God, who is that handsome looking guy?  He’s like the best parts of Robert Downey Jr, Brad Pitt, and Bruce Lee rolled into an economic, five foot four package!”

“Well I’ll be damned, you’re looking at Steven!  He’s only been here for about two minutes, but by God, he’s the best thing that’s entered my life.”

I much prefer it when I’m in control of the gossip that’s coming out of their mouths.

“Your order, sir.”

I snap back to reality.

“Uhm…thanks!”

Beef Ball Pho Noodle Soup.  Served with Bean Sprouts, Mint Leaves, and miscellaneous Veggies, it’s great for a cold night after work.  Nothing extraordinary about it, but it gets the job done.  The texture is the familiar broth-like Vietnamese soup, with the Pho Noodles and Beef Balls providing the main substance of the course. 

The next course is Grilled Pork, Vermicelli, and Spring Rolls.  The Pork has the barbecued savoury-sweet taste, and is pleasant to indulge in.  Vermicelli provides the carbs and a little bit of filler and the Spring Rolls have a little bit of Shrimp, Ground Pork, and Veggies to provide a complementary bite.  Veggies decorate the sides of the bowl.

We finish up our meals and sit back.  Now it’s our turn to gossip.

What might we be gossiping about you might ask?  Beats me.  Lip dub it in your head.

 

Pho 99 Vietnamese Noodle House (Richmond) on Urbanspoon

JJ BEAN COFFEE ROASTERS – Yaletown, 402 Davie St, Vancouver, BC, Canada (604) 684-9253

8 Apr

PRICE: $4-8

The rain finally lifts for a split second.

The second extends into minutes.

The minutes into hours,

That bleed into the rest of the afternoon and pour into the evening.

Time to stop and watch the world go by.

Walking down the street in Yaletown, Downtown Vancouver, the storm clouds have finally lifted and moved on.  Grumbling from a hard day’s work, they seem to be making their way to bug some other section of the Lower Mainland…maybe New Westminster?  Well, whatever the case, it’s great to finally have the sun get some breathing room.

The city is drenched in the fluorescent glow of liquid sunshine.  Clear water, now glowing white from the dull reflection of the sun on the clouds has settled onto sidewalks, porches, roads, and restaurants.  Like the city is awash in light.

I smile.  Time for one of those moments.

Time to watch the world go by.

“In a moment like this, the world passes by in a glorious instant.”

With a copy of today’s Globe and Mail in hand, I make my way to JJ Bean Coffee Roasters.  I’ve always wanted to check out one of their chains, and now I finally have the excuse that I’ve needed.

I go inside and place my order for a Mocha.  The service is friendly, and the barista introduces me to the resident Coffee Plant.  Sitting in a little flower pot, the draft coming in from an open window seems to animate the vegetable, making it wave at me with a certain nonchalance. 

A smile and a wave.  My Mocha is done, and I’m off to where I need to be at this moment.

Outside, sitting on a balcony, watching the world go by.

Delicate hints of dark chocolate mix in with the creamy-liquid foam the drink.  The taste is ever-present, but subdued.  The familiar warmth of the Coffee mug is reassuring.

In a moment like this, the world passes by in a glorious instant.

 

 

JJ Bean (Davie St) on Urbanspoon

ICHIRO JAPANESE RESTAURANT – 12011 2nd Ave, Steveston, Richmond, BC, Canada, (604) 277-1150

5 Apr

PRICE: $10-15 per entree

It’s that time of year again.  The changing of seasons.  Another asthma season for me.  Stuck on the couch, at home in an exhaustion-induced coma, I really don’t want to move at all right now.  Each breath feels like a push-up, and I’ve been doing these push-ups non-stop for almost two weeks now.  Exhaustion is my middle name.  At this point in time, I hate social events, but there is one type of social event that I will drag myself to regardless of how I’m feeling.  Birthdays.

It’s somewhere around 6:30-7:00pm and it’s getting pretty close to the dinner date, which is starting at 8:00.  I’m staring at myself in the mirror, bleary eyed, tired, and hating everything that moves or breathes.  Especially anything that breathes without an asthmatic condition.  I’m resentful of that.  Just a little, though.  I’m using positive reinforcement, Jedi mind-tricks, and relative thinking to try and pump myself up to go.  I eye myself in the mirror.

“At least you don’t have to go to the ER anymore.”

This pep-talk sucks.  I think of something else to motivate myself to go.

“JUST FRICKIN’ GO!  IT’S A BIRTHDAY!!!”

Alright.

I try to put on something that looks nice.  T-shirt and jeans?  My fashion sense was never my strong suit, especially when I’m feeling like this.  Ehhh, whatever, T-shirt and jeans it is.

I drag myself to the bus-stop.  Get in.  Ride. Get out.  I walk around aimlessly in Steveston, trying to find this place.

Steveston is the little fishing village at the end of Richmond, a Municipality close to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  It’s widely known for its charming little small shops, a wharf, and an abundance of Japanese-Canadian culture.  An incredible Japanese restaurant, Ichiro, has opened up here, and my birthday host has chosen this place as the gathering point.

I finally find the place and meet up with the birthday crew.  We exchange greetings, and my mood starts to lighten.  We stand outside the restaurant for a little while and survey the place.  Simple arrangements decorate a pseudo-rock garden.  Christmas lights.  Little gold-fish dance in a stone bowl just outside the door.  A pleasing arrangement.

We enter and find ourselves standing atop a lacquered hardwood floor and wooden tables.  The kitchen is open, and leans to our left.  The lights are bright.  Windows surround us.  A nice place.

As we sit, the birthday banter starts to pick up.  We explore the menus and place our orders.  The wait time goes by quickly, and the entrees start to make their appearances on the runway.

The Sashimi plate leads the parade.  With an assortment of Tuna, Salmon, and Yellow Tail, the presentation looks pleasing and begs to be gobbled up.  A good appetizer.  Each bite from each of the respective ingredients is firm and fresh.  Also, just as important, is the fact that none of the cuts give off that disgusting aged fishy smell.  Good.

An innovative take on the traditional Agedashi Tofu dish arrives.  Branded the ‘Steveston Agedashi Tofu’, it pairs the familiar Golden Tempura-Cooked Tofu with Salmon, Shrimp, and Tempura Sauce.  A refreshing and interesting way of serving what is generally an excessively common and bland dish.

The Beef Udon provides a subtle but satisfying mix of Beef Soup Broth, Veggies and Udon Noodles.  Completely devoid of MSG, I don’t have to drink any water to get the dreaded starchy Monosodium Glutamate off my tongue.

A plate of Tuna wrapped in Cucumber and Rice, and drenched in crimson makes the next appearance.  Spicy Tuna Rolls provide a hot, mouth-puckering bite.  A little zing to our otherwise less intense dishes.

Crispy Rolls arrive.  Tuna and Avocado are wrapped together and are topped off with what appears to be Dried Noodle Bits.  A very unique dish that I have never seen before.  The Tuna and Avocado have a refreshing bite, and the Dried Noodles provide a crunchy finish.

“The dragon’s head is no match for my mouth.  I be-head the sucker, pop it in, and start chewing.”

Our server brings the next plate.  Slices of Barbecued Eel rest atop of Rolls made of Imitation Crab, Asparagus, and Avocado.  The pieces are all lined up in a rather peculiar way.  A head…a body…a tail…a dragon!  I guess the menu wasn’t lying when they called it the Dragon Roll!

I’m a little wary of this monster at first, jabbing it here and there with my chop-sticks.  Don’t wanna over-extend myself.  I’m trying to slay a dragon.  Finally I find its point of weakness.  The dragon’s head is no match for my mouth.  I be-head the sucker, pop it in, and start chewing.

The Eel has a sweet but slightly savoury flavour.  Chewy and slightly singed, it provides an excellent complement to what tastes like a modified California Roll.

After concentrating on giving the food the attention it deserves, I catch up with friends, and enjoy the birthday atmosphere.

I take a breath.

It still feels like I’m working the bench-press each time I inhale, but now I have a spotter.

Ichiro Japanese on Urbanspoon

ITALIAN TOMATO – 8380 Bridgeport Rd, Richmond, BC, Canada (604) 247-0040

1 Apr

PRICE: $15-$30

Running a marathon and eating at the Italian Tomato, while on the surface may appear to be two completely different things, are quite actually one and the same in my experience.  Running several city blocks taxes the mind, body, and soul.  Trying to finish a single pasta entrée at the Italian Tomato taxes the mind, body, and soul.  Completing the first few kilometers in a run feels like a milestone. Realizing that you’ve eaten all the olive toppings on your entrée feels like a milestone.   Both running a marathon and eating at the Italian Tomato push you to your limit.  And finally, completing both of these activities gives you that same sense of accomplishment and self-importance.

The only thing is, I’m not feeling that sense of accomplishment, nor that sense of importance right now.

I’m sitting in my chair, and I’ve barely had anything to eat all day.  I’m really just about ready pass out from over-eating.  I’ve realized that having almost nothing to eat the whole day has made my stomach contract to the size of a walnut.  Shocking my system with this rich and creamy Italian food is probably the stupidest way to break my fast.  I’m running the first block of the marathon, and I’m already fainting.

Fortunately, what makes me keep on going despite the judgmental stares of my compatriots is the fact that I LOVE spaghetti.  I’m looking around at the folks at my table, and they’re all giving me looks that read: ‘This guy just can’t eat.  He can’t fight the good fight.’  They’re all looking at me to see if I’m game enough to finish my massive plate of pasta, as well as the other sampled servings that they have kindly offered me.  I glare back at them challengingly.  You just watch me.

First I sample some of the Ravioli with Portofino Sauce.  The Sundried Tomatoes and Pesto swim in Tomato Sauce, providing a primarily sour overtone to the dish.  The Sauce is thick and has the consistency of a Stew.  The Pasta is well cooked and the stuffing of the Ravioli adds a cheesy zing to each bite.  This sample is finished.

“They’re all looking at me to see if I’m game enough to finish my massive plate of pasta, as well as the other sampled servings that they have kindly offered me.  I glare back at them challengingly.  You just watch me.”

All’ Emeiliana has spicy Italian Sausages dancing atop of a Saucy stage of Bacon, Tomatoes, Basil, Black Olives, Feta Cheese, Garlic Olive Oil and Clear White Wine Sauce.  Linguine serves as the Pasta underneath.  Despite the abundance of ingredients the overall taste has a nice balance that allows space for each ingredient to breathe a little bit.  Sample finished.

Finally I start working on the dish that I actually ordered.  Linguine Pasta topped off with a traditional Alfredo Cream Sauce.  Some pass judgmental remarks on the ‘simplicity’ of my order, but I shrug it off.  Hey, always gotta go back to the classics, baby.  I dig in.  The creamy Alfredo Sauce offers a pleasant, consistent texture.  The lightly savoury shades of Cheese dance pleasantly in my palette.  This sample is not finished…not yet…I hope.

Now fast forward ten minutes.

“….uhhh…so full….”

I’m probably at the 2/3 mark of the marathon.  I’m just about to pass out.

Now five more minutes.

“…UHghguH”

I can’t even pronounce words.

Now three more minutes.

I tap out.  You just can’t win a marathon when you’re racing against the Italian Tomato.

Judgmental grins line my table.  I glare back anyway.

Italian Tomato on Urbanspoon

SWEET BUBBLE CAFE – 130 – 6068 No. 3 Road, Richmond, BC (604) 270-9993

30 Mar

PRICE: $4-$12

Right now I’m quite literally dashing to dine.  It’s evening meal break at work and I’ve been running around from shop to shop outside the mall I work at.  Everywhere I go a ‘CLOSED’ sign is standing guard between me and a much needed meal.  Time is starting to run out.

After ducking in and out of restaurant windows and playing charades with the owners (lip reading ‘ARE YOU CLOSED?’ – ‘YES WE ARE CLOSED’) I finally come across a place that doesn’t make me perform the tireless ritual.

I peer through the window of the door half-expecting to begin the tireless dance.  Just as I begin preparing to give my best ‘ARE YOU CLOSED’ charades impression, I lean on the door and realize that it’s…open. THANK GOD.

I crack open the door and begin to make my way to the cash register.  Asian pop music rings through the empty room.  Save for the tunes, it’s so still it feels like I’m at church.  Or a circus.  Polka-dot red and white sofas line the room. The black walls are highlighted with neon orange and green.  I’m just waiting for the clowns to start coming in.  I’m not used to this look, but I suppose it has its own kind of charm.

“I suppose hanging out in this place could help me get in touch with my Oriental side.  After all, I suppose we’re all really just different shades of yellowish-brown.”

I look at the menu.  While this is a very stereotypically Bubble Tea-looking place, they also serve a pretty wide variety of entrees.  I’m feeling the Crepes at the moment.  I place an order for the Tuna & Corn Crepe.  I’ve never had both of these foods surrounded by a very thin French Pancake.  I’m in.

I twiddle my thumbs while sitting at a table alone.  I feel awkward.  I’m not used to these kinds of places.  The colours are so bright.  The atmosphere so… Asian.  Hong Kong/Taiwan style.  I suppose these are the occasions where I can truly realize how much of a *Banana I am.

Even though my parents identify themselves culturally as Filipino, I suppose hanging out in this place could help me get in touch with my Oriental side.  After all, I suppose we’re all really just different shades of yellowish-brown.

The Crepe arrives and I hungrily wolf it down.  Savoury Tuna complements the sweet corn.  The warm but slightly crunchy Crepe complements the two.  The presentation is simple but elegant.  It can probably be best described as the most upscale Tuna Fish Sandwich I’ve ever had.  Simple, but awesome in its own right.

Content from the food, but still feeling pretty out of place in this joint, I lean back in my seat and begin to relax a little.

After a while it happens.  A feeling that I can’t quite describe, but it’s there.  Fleeting, but still noticeable.  That feeling that you get when you start feeling comfortable in what was an otherwise alien environment.

At home.  But just for a second.

It’s good feel a little more like an ‘authentic’ Asian, even if it’s just for a moment.

 

*To my international readers: Banana is Lower Mainland slang for an Asian with primarily Caucasian mannerisms – yellow on the outside, white on the inside.

 

Sweet Bubble Cafe on Urbanspoon

MY CUP COFFE & TEA – #105 – 6011 No. 3 Road, Richmond, BC (604) 270-3990

29 Mar

PRICE:  $3-$10

I’m a little nervous right now.  I was just recently kicked out of a restaurant for the very first time.  Apparently some people don’t take too kindly to having scum like me taking pictures of their food and their restaurants.  Oh well.  I suppose the soul-stealing qualities of cameras are still feared by many food vendors.  I guess I really should’ve seen something like this coming, but honestly given the amount of people with smart phones taking pictures of food, I didn’t think that it was such a big deal.  Chalk it up to experience.  Soul-stealing without consent isn’t safe.  Let that be a lesson to all of you.

So yeah, I am quite nervous right now as I walk into this café.  I’m really hoping that the good folks at this place will be better sports when it comes to soul-stealing.

A slight pause.  I finally pull myself through the door.  The place is nice.  Dark tiles line the floor.  Big windows offer a panoramic view to my right.  Black marble tables line the room with comfy leather chairs standing by their sides.  The Pastry display case is to my left, the cash register in front.  Hiding behind counter, you can catch the steel glint of an Espresso machine.

“I wince each time I click the button, half-expecting to get thrown out of the place again.  Foodie PTSD is catching up with me.”

I place my order.  A Soy Caramel Macchiato and a Chocolate Waffle with Whip Cream on the side.  I pay the cashier, and wait for the order.  I fumble around anxiously with my camera in my pocket.  This is unnerving.  I’m suffering from Foodie Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (FPTSD).  Who would’ve thought getting thrown out of a restaurant would’ve given me such battle scars?

I finally start to talk, anxiously muttering as politely as I can.

“Uhm…could…I…”

My hostess is giving me a blank stare.

“…uh…”

Now a blanker stare.

“…take pictures?  I’m…a blogger.  For food.”

I feel like a twelve year old asking out a girl for the first time.  Some things never change I guess.

She gives me an awkward okay, followed with a forced smile.  Yup.  Some things really don’t change at all.

I finally reveal my camera, stumble around awkwardly trying to look professional, and start snapping photos.  I wince each time I click the button, half-expecting to get thrown out of the place again.  Foodie PTSD is catching up with me.

I’m finally done clicking away and start to appreciate the orange diamonds dancing on my Caramel Macchiato.  Beautiful.  A sip reveals the foam to be of good quality; thick enough to provide a pleasing texture to the tongue, smooth enough to transition between foam to liquid without interruption, and uniform.  No stray bubbles.  An inferior barista makes their drinks feel like microwaved sugary Coffee-Milk with bubbles on top.  Definitely not the case here.  I’m enjoying it.

The Chocolate Waffle looks good and provides a nice Mocha-infused experience.  With Whip Cream on top, and bits of Chocolate Flakes sprinkled around, it makes for a satisfying snack.  My only concern; I wish they served it warm.  It was a little cold for my tastes.

The food finally relaxes me, and I think most of the symptoms of Foodie PTSD are starting to wear off.  I lean back, and enjoy the rainy day the way all rainy days should be enjoyed; inside, with a cup of great Coffee, a snack, and a newspaper in hand.

I fell off the horse a little while ago.  I think I’m back on again.

MyCup Coffee and Tea on Urbanspoon