Saturday, 13 August 2011

Burnaby Palace (BOUNDARY RD)

Having been introduced to Burnaby Palace Restaurant earlier this year, it was my pleasure to return there for a proper Chinese meal. Tucked away on Boundary road a few blocks south of Grandview, I'd driven by it many times and never noticed it was there. My colleagues agreed that getting a couple dishes and splitting them was the way to go. I wouldn't have it any other way.

You can tell a lot about a Chinese restaurant from it's fried rice. This Chicken Fried Rice ($8) brought me back to China.
More than just soy sauce and rice, the wok had cooked all the flavour of the green onion and chicken into the rice with just the right amount of seasoning. While rice itself is heavy, the flavours of this dish made it light - anyone can eat it and enjoy it's almost Western-cuisine simpleness. No crazy sauces here.

The second dish was Ginger Beef ($11). I don't recall ever eating this in China, but this was the best dish there and I'm incredibly happy to have stumbled upon it.
The beef had a crisp but chewy texture on the outside, the result of the sweetness in the sauce caramelizing as it fried in the wok. The ginger in the dish was spot on, breaking through the sweetness but not overpowering the flavour of the beef. Even a non-ginger fan could eat this and enjoy it. A few more peppers would've added a bit more colour and contrast to the dish. Will gladly order again.

Last but not least, one of my favourite Chinese dishes - Twice Cooked Pork. It's pork belly that is first boiled with ginger and salt, then thinly sliced and fried up, hence the name. In Chengdu, this dish arrived with a lot of thinly sliced green peppers and leeks, heavy on the garlic. It seems like cabbage is the vegetable of choice for filler in Canada, and it's not quite the same.

Ordinarily cooked with bean paste, a bit of soy, and rice wine thrown in to start, the flavour of the sauce wasn't particularly mind-blowing in this case. I enjoyed it, but there wasn't enough garlic to bring it up to my authentic experiences in China. The pork was also cut larger and thicker than usual, sometimes requiring two bites to fit a piece into your mouth. In it's defense, the meat was tender and juicy, complimented by the decent but not amazing sauce. It is one of the better Twice/Double-Cooked pork I've had over here, but still not exactly what I'm looking for.

Overall, I really enjoy eating here, and will be going back to try some dishes outside my friend's comfort zones. The prices are good for the quality, the service was friendly and attentive, and the food arrives at a decent speed. Looking forward to eating here again.

Burnaby Palace on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 6 August 2011

The Reef (MAIN ST)

Last year while working on a feature film in the area, I had the pleasure of eating at The Reef on Main St.

Having lived in Trinidad for a year, I'm very fond of Roti and Jerk meat items. The Reef is a small taste of the 6 months I spent living in Trinidad at the age of 17. Sitting down is almost like going back there, serving a large variety of dishes ranging from Jerked Chicken Quesadillas to standard Curry dishes. All jerk and hot sauces are handmade here as well, both of which are an excellent addition to any meal created here. Ginger Beer (non-alcoholic) is essentially mandatory for every meal, GET ONE.

Wanting to try something new from the culture I missed so dearly, I went for the Ackee Saltfish ($15). Essentially a combination of fish, ackee fruit, and tomatoes all mixed together, it's kinda like scrambled eggs, minus the eggs. Ackee fruit is known for having the taste of look of eggs.

Thank God that the flavours were so good. Having never tried it before, the ackee fruit tended to have quite a mild flavour. The texture in the mouth is a little bit closer to a Papaya than eggs, and the "egg flavour" is sweet and really not that strong. It's something I will be picking up next time I see it at a market to sample it's raw flavours.

Not being a common fish, the Saltfish gets sent over from the East coast. Every bite of this dish allowed the flavour of the Saltfish to come through in it, even if the fish wasn't prominent on the fork. A couple larger chunks allowed me to really examine the fish, and while it's not market fresh the fish had good flavour and worked very well in the dish.

Served on the side were beans with rice, pretty plain but standard Caribbean fare, acting more as filler than anything else. The coleslaw was citrus based, light and with the right amount of seasoning.

Last, but definitely not least is the Johnny cake, sitting on top of the mound like the king of the hill. A basket of these come to every table when you sit down. Essentially a deep-fried dumpling, these things are warm and chewy, just like a good dumpling should be. These are so good you could eat them plain, but a little butter on top makes them even better.

Heading back to The Reef after being away for a year was great. I enjoyed it so much I went back the next day. If your on Main Street, be sure to check this place out. Their menu runs along the lines of Caribbean pub food, but it's tasty and simple, there's something for everyone.  They also have some decent drink specials and even a brunch on the weekends.

The Reef (Main) on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Raglan's Bistro (LOWER LONSDALE)

Raglan's in Lower Lonsdale is a Tiki bar that serves large bowls of intoxicating tropical beverages. Being here for lunch, I held myself back and opted for food instead. The "bistro" has a wicked surfer/reggae vibe, and is apparently named after a famous surfspot in New Zealand. I decided to go for something a bit more expensive than my usual lunch fare, and therefore a bit more unique.

The Hawaiian Tuna burger ($15)  is a seared slab of tuna with a Chipotle mayo and a slice of pineapple on it. At $15 (most expensive "burger" there), I was expecting to be blown away. Well, the Chipotle mayo was delicious (great with their yam fries) and added a nice element to the burger. The sweet fresh pineapple really made my tastebuds tingle and offset the burger beautifully. Sadly, the Tuna wasn't seared, it was definitely cooked through. It was either overcooked or freezer burnt, having that stringier texture but not chewy, so I'm betting on the former. The tuna still tasted good, just not full of as much flavour as everything else on the burger, being overpowered by the pineapple.

The French Fries were hand-cut and covered in salt. They were a little soft to my liking, but tasted fine and the size was decent. The couple bites of fresh coleslaw in the corner was better than the fries. Crisp and with a bit of tang, I wish there was a much larger portion and less fries.

I enjoy Raglans. The large tropical punch bowls are always a winner with friends and the food is normally quite good. The atmosphere is awesome here. They often show surf videos on the TV screens around the joint, the music is always relaxed and summery, and the bright colourful decor on the walls of mixed surfer paraphanelia and random traveller bits-n-bobs really adds to what makes this place a great place to be. I've had their incredibly large AND delicious pulled pork poutine before, and the burritos are also a great place to start. While the prices are higher than most bars, it's definitely a good place to check out at least once with friends.

Sherman has a great review of Raglans!


Raglan's Bistro on Urbanspoon

Monday, 1 August 2011

Five Guys Burgers and Fries (WEST VANCOUVER)

I had the unexpected pleasure of dropping in to Five Guys with Fries at Park Royal in North Vancouver. This wasn't a planned trip, photos are simple iPhone snaps, but were here for the food anyway. If you don't know Five Guys with Fries, it's a very successful chain much like In-N-Out, simply good burgers, minimal side options and only fountain drinks.

First off, $7.99 gets you a 2-patty burger, with all toppings of your choice FREE, including fried onions or mushrooms.

Fresh Onions
Grilled Onions
Grilled Mushrooms
Jalapeno Peppers
Green Peppers 
A.1.® Steak Sauce
Bar-B-Q Sauce
Hot Sauce

Every burger is custom built for you, with exactly what you want on it. We ordered the Cajun fries with it as well, and any drink is unlimited refills.

Well, after a short wait, our number was called. When you order fries, they fill your cup up inside your bag by dumping a huge shovelful in, there is always more fries than your cup can handle so you have this hot burger buries in yummy fries. It's another little thing they do here that makes your remember it, kind of like the cups of peanuts they have for you to munch on while you wait. Other locations let you throw your shells on the floor, but not this one.

The Cajun fries had a very nice spice on them, and the freshness of the hand-cut potatoes made them well worth eating. A large order is more than enough for two people to eat.

The burger. Well, needless to say my photos don't do this puppy justice. I was shaking so hard from the delicious, perfectly seasoned double patty that I could barely hold the camera still. I wanted another bite. 
All the ingredients I ordered were on the burger and balanced with each other perfectly, they portioned the toppings well. The hamburger buns were smaller, like ones you'd use at a backyard BBQ, but that added to the charm of the burger. Buns are just there to hold the good stuff together, too many places use big bloated buns, these are perfect.  

For the price your paying, your getting a pretty damn good meal. It was over $30 for one large fries order, 2 normal drink, and 2 double-patty burgers. There's a reason this chain has grown so large down south, and it's due to it's incredibly good burger quality. Nothing fancy here, no pineapple slices or teriyaki chicken, just SOLID burgers.


Five Guys Burgers & Fries (West Van) on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

The Black Bear Pub (LYNN VALLEY)

This was my first time having a proper meal at The Bear. I ordered the Jerk ChickenBurder ($11.99) with fries.
Personally, I love Jerk Chicken. I lived in the Caribbean for 6 months when I was younger and never really discovered this Jamaican classic. Well, now everytime I go to the Canadian Superstore, I buy the Jerk Chicken marinade and use it on everything, including cereal. 
Well, sadly, the burger had potential but lost it in execution.


The jerk flavouring came through on the burger, but very very mildly, the flavour wasn't tongue sizzling. The burger was drier than it should've been, and obviously could've been marinaded longer or cooked slower in the marinade. Regardless I enjoyed it and they had just the right amount of veggies on the burger to go along with the chicken. 

The French Fries were real French Fries, cut in restaurant and slightly seasoned. They were basic ordinairy French fries, it would've been nice to take them a step further but at least they weren't a Costco bag of cuts. 

Needless to say, it filled me, I was full. Too bad the slab of chicken was too dry and not flavourful enough. I won't be heading back here soon for work, but I will have to check out their mussels and tuna entries at some point, they both have a very good reputation.  For a decent burger, check out the $16 Lamb Burger from the Village Taphouse, soooooo good. 


Black Bear Neighbourhood Pub on Urbanspoon

Friday, 22 July 2011


For lunch yesterday, we stopped at a coffee shop in Kerrisdale, only because Dairy Queen didn't have burgers, shoot me. For $10.45 I got a salad and a sandwich, which is a pretty hefty price tag, considering most bars do a soup/salad and sandwich for $7-$9 as a lunch special. Well, the salad rolled around, and me and my co-worker were both impressed.
There was just the right mix of walnuts, feta, and deliciously fresh blackberries and strawberries that I could've eaten a large bowl of this salad and been satisfied. The greens were fresh, everything went perfectly bite after bite. The salad came with little jars of balsamic vinegar, and olive oil, so you could add the two for a perfect taste as you saw fit. I don't order salads too often, this made me realize what I was missing. Mind you it's a coffee shop, the salad wasn't huge, but a good starter to a sandwich.

Then the sandwich arrived. Smoked salmon with avocado. I love smoked salmon, and was kind of dissapointed to see how little there was on the sandwich. It pulled through in some bites but never strongly, a little bit more would've really enhanced the sandwich. The bread was store bought, nothing too exciting. Still, the sandwich was good, albeit nothing extra-ordinary. I will definitely try their smoke salmon wrap next time, which include avocado, but capers as well.

That little sliver of melon was a nice touch to the meal. I have to say the staff were extremely friendly, the food was fast, I just wish it wasn't quite so much for a standard sandwich, and an excellently simple salad. Check it out if your in the area, apparently their soups are quite excellent.


Legato Tea & Coffee on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 21 July 2011


I stopped by Village Taphouse for a bite on Tuesday, after visiting it for the first time to see a friend earlier that day. Now it was time for some food. I ordered the Bay Shrimp Club, made with fresh avocado, dill aioli, and a prosciutto crisp ($14, with a side order of Poutine ($4).

Now, until I just looked up what I'd actually ordered on a menu on their website, I had completely forgotten there was a dill aoli inside. Maybe it's because the flavour wasn't that strong, or maybe it was the pint of Stanley Park Pilsner($4.75), a LAGER, overpowering it, but the sandwich kind of disappointed. I'm a huge fan of shrimp in sandwiches, and with avocado your usually asking for a guaranteed winner. My first bite, squished 80% of the shrimp out of the gorgeous looking sandwich, and there it wasn't jam packed with them or anything like that. Heavy dosing of avocado though, and the sandwich was definitely a decent size. The prosciutto crisp was a nice touch, but there wasn't enough to really make it stand out. Overall I was kind of disappointed by the sandwich. Bolder flavours and better execution would've made it a whole lot better.

The Poutine was actually pretty damn good, I think I liked it more than the sandwich. It had quite a strong flavour to it, more onion than meaty, but one of the best poutine sauces I've had
ever had. Which doesn't mean much, I usually eat shit poutine(notice the small p?) wherever I find it and am in the mood. The cheese was nice and gooey, just the way it should be, and while it wasn't covered all over the top, it was sufficiently buried in the small bowl. It's not a huge amount of Poutine, but a perfect amount for a side. It nicely complimented the meal, I'd get it again . Not quite sure what's sprinkled on top, I was too busy eating and that photo blows.

Sorry for the crap photos, unexpected stop and only had my iPhone on me. A bit shaky too.
Anyways, I would visit the location again. While the food wasn't mind blowing, it was better than your standard bar food (looking at you Lynnwood) by a fair amount and you can tell the Cactus Club influence on the place. 22 kinds of beers are available on tap, and all the servers/waitresses are given a beer education when they start working there. Their daily food and drink specials are actually pretty decent as well. Maybe next time I'll try something a little bit less...ordinary. Off to bed, I just got off set and here I am writing a food blog post when I need to be up at 6. Classy.


Village Taphouse on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 19 July 2011


So I went to the Cheshire Cheese on Dunbar for lunch yesterday. Sorry, I was working and dirty, so I left my fancy camera at home, but this surprise stop made me pull out my iPhone.

 Being that it's a British restaurant and I hadn't tried too much British cuisine, I went for a Toad In the Hole, which is home-made sausage cooked in a Yorkshire battery, traditionally served with veggies, and mashed potaotes, along with some onion gravy. 

The mashed potatoes were good, with a bit of parsley on top, but pretty close to what you would make it home. Nothing too crazy here. The veggies were boiled, maybe a bit too long (or a bit old), as they didn't have a particularly strong flavour to them, but they weren't unedible and could be seasoned to your personal tastes.

The Toad In The Hole. First off, the British know how to make sausages, that's for sure. The sausage had great flavour but wasn't too overpowering or spicy. The Yorkshire itself was beautiful, soft, fluffy, and complimented the sausage with onion gravy every single bite. The only minor complaint was that one corner of the dish was definitely drier, the Yorkshire was harder there and the meat has turned almost into a pepporoni. I understand a dish like this takes 45 minutes to make so everything is made ahead of time, but something got fumbled and I did have a bit of a hard time getting through that corner piece.  

The Toad In the Hole was $11.99, and along with a Kilkenny pint ($7.85) it out to around $20 before tip. If you want to try some good authentic British food, check The Cheshire Cheese out, there are multiple locations around Vancouver. I apologize again for the short review and lack of photos, I will be more prepared next time and not in a rush for work as I type this. 

Cheshire Cheese Inn on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 17 July 2011

BISTRO ROYAL (Park Royal in West Vancouver)

While I was picking up an HDMI cable at Park Royal today, I stopped by the food court for lunch. I almost went Chinese, but a man beckoning me over with a sliver of chicken on a stick got my business. BISTRO ROYAL is a newer Euro/Internation food shop there, trying to entice customers with good pasta and chicken/meat dishes.

The Sweet Basil chicken sampler he handed me was beautifully cooked and very juicy. On the spot I decided to eat there, and ordered the Sweet Basil Chicken chicken with 2 sides, for $7.99. They also had some Salmon or Basa as a meat main, and quite a variety of sides to go with all of these, including 4 types of salads, 3 types of pasta, and various other veggie dishes. This being my first, (and accidental!) blog post, I didn't take any photos of the establishment or the menus, but this will be an ongoing thing as I plan for things like this ahead of time.

Now, onto the food. It was pretty good for food court fair.  The Pesto pasta I had as a side was perfectly cooked, the sauce was creamy with good flavour, but not too overpowering. Most food court shops tend to under season, as the customer can always season to perfection but can't un-season if it's a bit too much. 

The salad I had was crisp and fresh, with just the right amount of light dressing on it, something close to the flavour of a Greek salad dressing and some nice parmesan on top. I drove like a maniac on the way home, so my salad got tossed. No, not like that, like this:

The chicken was dripping in the Sweet Basil sauce. It was tender,juicy, and just the right amount of seasoning and pepper. I even dipped some of the pasta into the excess sauce for a bit more kick. However, it was a tad too sweet for me, I'm a spice guy and by the time I made it to the end I wasn't too down for anything with sugar, but that's just me.

There was also a small home-made bun that came with the meal, only a couple bites worth but a nice addition to the meal. The bun got a bit of sauce on it in the travels home, but after the first bite I couldn't stop and ate it up, it was great and reminiscent of buns my Mom made, just the perfect density and slightly sweet. 

The owner and his wife are very friendly to the customers, and they told me they just opened up in January this year. There wasn't a line-up or a lot of people eating here yet, so here's hoping his promotional tactics continue to draw in customers like they did for me today. Good, fresh food at decent prices in a food court setting. Next time I feel like a meal cooked at home I'll have to swing by. 


Bistro Royal (Park Royal Shopping Centre) on Urbanspoon