Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Joe Fortes Happy Hour Prawn Tacos

Click to add a blog post for Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House on Zomato Back to Joe Fortes for Happy Hour! Last time I was there specifically for their 4pm-6pm happy hour was way back in 2013 and the food is still just as good. Buck-a-shuck oysters are off the happy hour menu due to current oyster conditions, but its place they added Prawn Tacos, Three Cheese Bacon Mac & Cheese, West Coast Clam Chowder.

There were some service hiccups this time, but based on their record with me and my parties so far, I'm going to assume it's a one-off. But here are some tips:

TIP: When they ask you about water, "flat water" is probably bottled water and in any case costs $2 per person.

TIP: If you go at happy hour and are seated at the bar, you *may* get the bar menu, which is incorrect and does not list the new happy hour menu items. Immediately ask for the Happy Hour Menu. No, it is not the same as the Bar Menu, even though they look the same. Even if you work off the wrong menu, you will still get happy hour prices, though.

TIP: For happy hour, they don't hold nearby seats. If your party is 8 or less you may end up at the bar, which means parties of 3+ may find it harder to have a proper party-wide conversation. Ask for a table and see if they will accommodate. If the bar is already full they will end up seating you at tables anyway.

Fortes Punch ($4.50) non-alcoholic mix of fruit juice
  • Fruit juices apparently really freshly squeezed on site from real fruit.
  • Mostly ice in your glass but at $4.50 can you really complain?
  • Nothing special here in flavour.
Prawn Tacos ($11.95 during Happy Hour)
  • This works out to about $6 per taco, which is twice the going rate for tacos, such as at Sal y Limon.
  • Nice big taco still not big enough to properly pinch when folded, since you get two really fat prawns in the taco. We're talking proud-to-be-called prawns, rather than "shrimps".
  • Some bite from spicy heat, but no real lingering burn on the tongue.
  • Spicy and very tasty! Get this!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Rob Feenie duck sandwich at Cactus Club

Click to add a blog post for Cactus Club Cafe on Zomato Last time I was at the Coal Harbour Cactus Club was in December, and I remember not being impressed, but I also didn't have any Rob Feenie specials either. I vowed to only order "RF" marked menu items, so when I got dragged over there for brunch today, that's how I read the menu.

Location is great except you probably don't want to linger outside too long during the day because the exhaust from the float planes does drift up.
Patio seating is very good on a sunny day. If you are early enough for brunch, you can ask to retreat further in under more shade if the sun gets too much.
Don't be put off by no-reservations-for-brunch as the location is big enough for there to be ample seating. Larger groups should definitely try a reservation, and I did see a couple of parties of 8-10 with outdoor sunny seating.

BBQ Duck Clubhouse ($17.75) peking duck, roasted chicken, prosciutto di modena, pecan fruit bread. Created by chef Rob Feenie.
  • Not the worst sandwich ever, but definitely the worst for the price they were asking.
  • "Pecan fruit bread" sounded interesting, except it tasted like double-baked bread and was hard as biscuits. Which made eating this sandwich an annoying chore, not only because you've got dry and hard biscuit but the crunch helped the sandwich fall apart. From the get-go you will have some chunks of "bread" falling off (not just crumbs).
  • "Peking duck" is duck meat. Not the best part of Peking Duck, which is the skin. Not even any tasty duck fat.
  • Nothing particularly tasty here and no standout flavours either despite the interesting-sounding description. Definitely nothing to justify asking $17.75. Go to Sliders instead, unless you need to impress friends with the view of smoggy float planes bobbing up and down in the harbour.
  • Comes with a small side. Default is fries, which were very decently done.
Service was good, water top-ups and clearing of dishes also very prompt, and they get points for that.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Spring water dough at Non Stop Pizza

Click to add a blog post for Non Stop Pizza on Zomato If you haven't had "Indian Style" pizza, definitely give it a go. And Non-Stop Pizza is a pretty decent place to try it. It's interesting not just because it uses Indian menu ingredients like chicken tikka or tandoori chicken and the like, but also because it doesn't have melty cheese blanketing everything--which means re-heating it isn't going to be quite so bad.

The Fraser Street location of Non-Stop Pizza is a dive that thankfully you won't have to eat in -- because there's no seating! It's just a take-out counter, really.

I tried it on Thursday, and there was the one extremely bored (?) person bordering on possibly being surly. He blandly and negatively answered my questions. Egg Pizza? Nope. We have no eggs. (WTH?) Tandoori Fish Pizza? Nope. Butter Chicken Pizza? Nope. That is the same as Chicken Tikka Pizza. (Really? Then why is Chicken Tikka Pizza a separate menu item?)

Anyway, we got a single large, half-and-half pizza (half one type, half another, no extra charge). It came in a box that said they use Spring Water for their pizza dough -- not tap water, apparently. Couldn't taste the difference under the toppings, though.

Hot & Spicy Special Pizza (Hot Pepperoni, Hot Salami, Mushrooms, Onions, Green Peppers & Jalapeno)
  • Not hot and spicy. But maybe they toned it down for us hapless Asians who might not have been able to handle it?
Chicken Tikka Pizza (Mushrooms, Onions, Tomatoes, Chicken Tikka & Green Peppers)
  • Yup, cubes of chicken taste like chicken tikka.
Tasty enough and budget-priced pizza. Would be better if the order-taker wasn't so wooden, but this is a takeout place. He's not waiting your table, so no points off for that. I *am* docking them points for not having certain types of pizza (and running out of eggs!) at around 6pm in the evening -- like, are you serious?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Neurogenesis Happy Water

The latest sample sent to me by SocialNature is Neurogenesis Happy Water. Happy Water is available at IGA, London Drugs, and other stores.

At IGA and London Drugs, it is $9.99 (same as the suggested retail price on the website) plus 20 cent BC environmental deposit. Also, when I picked it up today at London Drugs, there was a buy-one-get-one Manager's Special (which sadly did not allow me to pick up two with the coupon sent to me by SocialNature).

Happy Water 5L coupon

Happy Water also comes in 500 ml bottles with a suggested retail price of $1.99. If you feel that "water is water", you could compare this to Nestlé® Pure Life®, which is one of the pricier bottled waters available at Superstore, which sells it at $4.99 for 35 bottles, plus $1.05 ecology fee, plus $1.75 "deposit", for a total of $7.79 or roughly 45 cents per two bottles (1 liter).

Happy Water's 5L "bulk" size gives you some savings on price in exchange for a box that doesn't really allow grab-and-go. Even so, at $9.99 + 20 cent ecology fee, it is about $2.04 per liter, or over 4 times as much.
For people like my mom, this makes Happy Water a really tough sell. She tried it, and asked me why she shouldn't just continue boiling her own tap water.

Happy Water does definitely taste different from tap water, and they also claim "Happy Water® is sourced from two ancient Canadian mountain springs. Happy Water’s® blend of spring and mineral water contains naturally occurring lithia, calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. The rare combination of these minerals creates Happy Water’s® naturally alkaline state."
There is an interesting article on water that supports drinking natural spring water (see the section on Living Water) -- water that is theoretically free of pollution and healthy to drink.

In summary, I think Neurogenesis Happy Water now is like early organic food: You can be convinced it's better for you. But it's so pricey for now that most people will probably just get what's convenient and cheap because we don't feel any difference right away compared to drinking tap water, which is "safe enough" according to the government.
People who educate themselves on water and heath -- AND who are willing to pay a premium for health -- should definitely take a closer look.

At this time, Social Nature is offering the opportunity to TRY HAPPY WATER FOR 20 CENTS. (You get a coupon to try it for "free" but like me, it will probably end up costing you 20 cents for the BC enviro fee).

The shape of the 5L and 10L boxes does have the additional benefit of being easy to store and transport in mass quantities, which makes it an interesting option. The built-in spout is also brilliant, and once my box is empty I will definitely try cracking it open to see if I can re-use the container.
Whether the benefits of boxed water is interesting and useful enough for you to pay 4x more for bottled water is up to you.

Happy Water info 2 of 2
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Happy Water info 1 of 2
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Happy Water 5L front
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Happy Water 5L spout side . Happy Water 5L spout
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Happy Water 5L nutrition . Happy Water 5L instructions
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Monday, August 17, 2015

Smokehouse Sandwich Company beef brisket

Click to add a blog post for Smokehouse Sandwich Company on Zomato The concept is pretty simple: A BBQ meat sandwich that uses round burger buns and gives you roughly the same amount of meat as a patty. For $4 more you can get twice the amount of meat (the "II" option on the sandwich menu).

Quiet, shady place that's quite big. Looks simply decorated on the inside, but take some time to look around and you'll spot some curious things like vintage cameras.
Mostly tables and a curious mix of chairs all spray-painted white. Plus a low table with couch!
Tables look easily movable, so this place could probably accommodate fairly large groups.
It's planted in a residential area, but only a 35 minute walk from the nearest Skytrain. Plus there's parking.

Price for portion is decent at mostly $9 per burger. Despite the interesting descriptions, it isn't really a gourmet burger, but it is tasty enough. Considering most dedicated burger places are charging about $12-$15 for a supposedly gourmet burger, this is OK value.

Samson Sandwich ($8.99) Coffee-crusted strawberry-glazed beef brisket with aioli, lettuce, and bell peppers
  • Could not detect coffee anything or strawberry anything. So this basically tasted like beef brisket in a bun.
  • Not overly sauced, which is fine because your burger starts leaking juices in short order anyway.
  • Nicely toasted bun, which really helps in picking up the burger.
  • Nice and tender brisket that tasted good as far as BBQ meat goes. However, the overall flavour was diminished by all the veggies in the burger.
Crisp ($2) thin cut potatoes fried in olive oil
  • Made in-house and comes unsalted.
  • Eat enough as it starts feeling oily, as any deep-fried item is wont to do.
  • Salt and hot sauces are available to jazz up your crisps.
  • About 2 cups worth of crisps, which feels a bit pricey for $2.
Based on the one sandwich I got, I thought this place was just OK. You may have a better experience with a more interesting sandwich like the tamarind chicken "Sarah" or cumin-spiced pulled pork "Wilbur".

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Salty caramelized meat from Mui Ngo Gai

Click to add a blog post for Mui Ngo Gai on Zomato MùiNgòGai is a simple restaurant without much ambiance. But basically clean and spacious. Price for portion is fairly good as most things come with rice or noodles, making it easy to get a filling meal.  Free wifi but you need a password. SHAW wifi as well.

Thịt Kho tộ  Caramelized pork,  越式炆豬肉煲 ($12.95) A special dish in which the delicate sweetness of a light caramel balances the vibrant saltiness of fish sauce. 
You can have it spicy or not, as it is cooked to order. Quite salty so eat with a lot of rice, this was a Vietnamese way of stretching a little meat a long way.
  • The "detailed description" of "salty caramelized meat" on the website reads: "Made in a metal pot so that the sugars in the sauce can caramelize. The pork can be ordered lean, half lean and fat or fatty; also you can order with less or more hot peppers The taste is rich with the caramelized sugar, spices and hot pepper. Slightly sweet and salty with a spicy tingle from the peppers. The taste reminds me of the tasty bits left behind when we would cook pork chops years ago but the difference is the whole dish tastes that good. It is favoured much like many Vietnamese dishes in that it is meant to be eaten with rice or noodles to balance the flavour. Cut up chilies for heat as much or little heat as you want. The inside of the bowl is covered in caramelized sauce that is a delight to scrape off and eat as it is a very intense flavour. This is the kind of dish I want to use some rice to clean out the cooking pot when we have finished the meat so I can get every ounce of this precious food."
  • What you get is salty pork in a sweet sauce, which goes a long way toward tempering the saltiness.
  • Comes with a large bowl of normal rice. I recommend you taste the pork first, especially the sauce that sinks all the way to the bottom of the hot metal pot. Then for convenience, throw all your rice in and mix well.
  • Sweet-sauced pork is tasty but as a dish, it is monotonous.
  • Good quantity of pork for $12.95 -- possibly 2 cups or so. If you are a light eater, this could possibly be a light meal for two with room left over for a special drink or light dessert.
Sinh tố mẵng cầu Soursop smoothie 林琴菓攪拌汁 ($4.25)
  • Looks like Starbucks grande size portion. Price for portion on their smoothies therefore pretty decent.
Overall, a simple place with good price for portions. Their phở is also priced fairly cheaply at $6.85 for small and $7.85 for large.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Sliders vegetarian option

Click to add a blog post for Sliders on Zomato
Sliders is a fairly spacious restaurant with a simple cafeteria / communal table layout. Clean and simple. Order at the counter, get a number, wait for your number to be called.

Sliders also features a lot of money-saving deals:
  • 10% off for local businesses and hospital staff
  • 10% off takeout orders after 5pm
  • 20% off orders over $50
  • 20% off on all combos after 4pm
  • Slider "passport" -- stamp card to try all the different sliders. Fully stamped card gets you a free slider. NOT automatically offered to you, so ask for one and remember to pull it out.
The sliders themselves are small burgers, but not super-small. They are actually about the size of a McDonalds burger, maybe slightly smaller but taller.
The design of the burgers are also really nice with good buns and interesting fillings.

Three sliders work out to be slightly more than a single gourmet burger elsewhere. This is great value as a 3-slider combo is $13.99 for three sliders plus fountain drink ($2) plus basic side ($4). On top of that, you get a decent bit of different types of sliders.

TIP: You can get water! It is at the drinks dispenser. To the left of the ice machine (middle). On that drink dispenser is a separate white lever which will get you plain white water. Took me forever to notice it. DUH. You won't get a refund on your drink in the combo, though.

No vegan option. No gluten-free burger.

I went with the "vegetarian option" 3-slider combo as there were 3 veggie options.

Cauliflower & Cheese
  • I seem to remember this as being the least interesting of the three and I was especially missing the "aged cheddar cheese sauce".
Mushroom & Goat Cheese
  • Patty looks black and burnt, but doesn't taste that way.
  • Interesting and tasty!
Chickpea Fritter
  • Really creamy chickpea burger. Nice touch of curry here with the curry aioli.
Tater Tots
  • I chose this as my side. It looks like supermarket tater tots, tossed in some condiment to make it tastier than plain tater tots.
  • I recommend these over the fries, which look decent but which were also nothing special.
It's had to go wrong when each combo lets you choose different sliders -- in case of utter flavor disaster, there's a different slider you can try.

Nowadays, $12-15 gets you a single big gourmet burger and typically no sides, so value for money is there. Not exactly fast-food value, but tasty and interesting burgers at a good price.

iFollow.club looks like recruitment spam

I am always on the lookout for interesting investments. I read a bit on Binary Options and how it is likened to gambling where you have approximately a 55% chance of losing your investment with each trade/bet.
But there is also "social trading" where you can mirror the trades of "successful investors".

Enter iFollow.Club, one of these "social trading" sites. They tout an "autopilot" way to make money over 7 days:

your first 7 days on iFollow

So did it work for me?

NOT EVEN CLOSE.

And I say this WITHOUT HAVING MADE A SINGLE TRADE.

You are probably thinking, "WTF?". Read on.

Once you do the free sign-up portion on the website, you start getting e-mails like this one, offering "free cash" when you fund your account with the minimum $250.

2015-Jul-29 iFollow free cash

I waited and wanted to know more. Eventually I got this e-mail explaining iFollow.Club's social trading structure.

2015-Jul-28 This is how you actually make money on iFollow
Read it carefully and you will spot all sorts of interesting details:
  • It suggests that you will automatically have successful trades by following "top investors". There is no mention that trades could be unsuccessful and lose your money.
  • It says you will "Join Canada's #1 Regulated broker". iFollow.Club is in the United States, according to the fine print. Also, if you make the $250 deposit, it starts an account with Interactive Option, which is in Cyprus.
Supposedly once you fund your account you will get a call from a broker and get a "100% Bonus" on your deposit. I missed the call from the broker but he e-mailed me:

2015-Aug-3 first contact from Interactive Option - no mention of iFollow

Bigger problems now:
  • NO MENTION of iFollow, much less the "100% Bonus".
  • NO MENTION of social trading.
  • The talk of "tailored trading tuition, signal service, technical and fundamental analysis" could be upsell pitches.
I e-mailed him back citing iFollow and their process of social trading. I NEVER heard back from him again. More than that, iFollow.club and Interactive Option stopped talking to me until I called my VISA card.

My VISA card said deposits cannot be reversed. Since I couldn't get anyone from iFollow or Interactive Option to respond to me for a full refund, I sent my VISA card a dispute request, saying I had been misled by iFollow into starting an account with Interactive Option, which has so far made no mention of iFollow.

A couple of days later, Interactive Option's compliance department seemed to start taking me seriously. They still NEVER made any mention of iFollow, but claiming that they needed to comply with regulations, asked for identity documents such as government issued ID or passport, a copy of a bill with my address, and a picture of my credit card with details like the expiration date concealed.

I initially just gave them my credit card asking for a reversal of the transaction; I withheld my ID saying that given their affiliation with iFollow, I no longer trusted them and was wary of identity theft. They never said why that could not be done, but insisted on the ID.
We were at an impasse so I gave them my ID, including a bank statement from a bank where I had no funds. (I write cheques to it from my online bank so that I can get cashier's cheques and the like in person).

Today, they assured me that a full refund of my deposit, without any deductions, would be made to my credit card. (UPDATE: 250 USD refund has showed up in my credit card statement, transaction date Aug-13, posted date Aug-17. I lost some CAD due to the exchange rate, but the 250 USD was refunded in full by Interactive Option, as promised.)

Meanwhile... iFollow long since stopped communicating with me about a refund or why Interactive Option never mentioned them. But they now started to spam me with incentives to recruit others for them. Below you can see some of their recruitment e-mails, disguising themselves variously as Yahoo!, Skype, Google, and others.

I have to admit that once Interactive Option started to handle my refund request, they have at least communicated professionally. I am still disappointed that they have not owned up to their affiliation with iFollow. And considering they are getting accounts through iFollow.Club spam mail and suspicious practices, I can't honestly give them a lot of credibility.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Annalena interesting, tasty, pricey

Click to add a blog post for AnnaLena on Zomato AnnaLena has a simple, clean space with tables a bit tightly packed but spacing for seats not that bad. Nice, spacious washrooms that reminded me of hotel washrooms. Interesting use of LEGO and creepy bears all over the place.

TIP: Girls, the waiters are cute. That was the consensus at our predominantly girl table.

They also use Bookenda for online reservations, which has a nice advantage over OpenTable in that you can "chat" with the restaurant on the website in a sort of Facebook comments way, whereas on OpenTable, once your reservation is made, your options are more limited.
I recommend using Bookenda over actually calling or e-mailing the restaurant.

Annalena basically has two seatings of about 2 to 2-1/2 hours. And for now, they are packed even at 10pm. Also, while a 2 hour seating may seem like a long time, we were early by about 15 minutes but our table was still late by about 5 minutes. So while you can expect an unrushed experience, you can also expect others to do the same.
Because it's packed, you can expect the room to be as noisy as Cactus Club on a busy night. And considering they have a full house, the food does come out at a respectable speed.

The menu is sharing style plates and arranged in order of smaller plates at the top of the menu to bigger plates on the bottom. Two plates per person plus dessert would probably make a reasonable meal for a single adult, but if you got the smaller plates it might still not be quite enough. You can expect that the price per person is therefore closer to $30+ before tax and tip, and excluding drinks.
If you are sharing, then a single order is probably okay to share with two to three persons, but four or five starts to stretch it in terms of getting a proper taste of everything in a dish -- which is the situation our table ended up with, so keep that in mind when reading about the different dishes I got to try.

TIP: Immediately ask / make sure you get serving utensils. Our sharing dishes did not initially come with them.

Overall, price for portion honestly looks atrocious, especially as plates don't come with filling carbs on the side (e.g., when you have fish or meat, often it's sitting on mashed potato -- but not here). You are also paying for the complexity of composition/ingredients; if you refuse to pay for that and eat your food blindfolded so you can't see the difference, then you will be annoyed by your bill.
Still, this is not (yet?) a restaurant that has placed a large premium on their popularity or location, so you know it could be worse if it were in Yaletown. Bottom line, it's a pricey dinner unless you supplement your meal with cheap beer and carb-laden bites elsewhere afterwards.
Price for portion of the desserts was very much better -- considering what restaurants are charging for a slice of cheesecake, value on the desserts starts looking really good.

Kale ($13) kale salad, fried cauliflower, pickled veg, ginger tahini dressing, potato chips
  • Bitterness of the kale tempered with the gingery dressing. Some sharper notes, probably from the picked veg. Ginger flavor definitely present but not overpowering.
  • Portion is better shared by just two persons.
  • Overall an salad of interesting tastes and that makes bitter kale tasty.
Chicken ($14) buttermilk fried, maple mustard, dill powder
  • Most of our table liked this simple-looking item. The fried chicken connoisseur at our table pointed out the chicken remained crispy even when the chicken had gone cold.
  • To me, fried chicken is fried chicken. Slather on the mustard, and especially the dill powder, as that makes the tasty difference here.
Lobster ($22) garlic confit, seared mirepoix, potato, lobster bisque, lemon gel
  • Didn't get a particularly good sample here but I was told the chunk of lobster here was a tad overcooked.
  • Mostly I got to sample the bisque which was tasty, and more importantly, miles away not as salty as most lobster bisque I have had pretty much everywhere else.
  • We were offered bread for the bisque AFTER it was mostly gone. Hmm... (Probably not free, but I didn't ask).
Risotto ($19) summer vegetable risotto, parmesan foam, brown butter soil
  • Looks like a salad. Your small portion of risotto is hiding underneath.
  • I recommend isolating the risotto and eating that on its own. It is creamy and buttery and very tasty.
Trout ($21) seared trout, roasted carrot, picked cabbage puree, charred onion, chive butter sauce
  • Eat this quickly while it's hopefully still hot. It is skin-on and therefore can suffer from that "fishy" flavor.
  • Not too much fish to go around five people, so I chose to try the fish all on its own. Verdict: Seared fish is seared fish. If you order this, try slapping on some of the sauce on the plate on the fish.
Beef ($33) wagyu short rib, broccoli puree, mushrooms, potato, peppercorn jus
  • Done VERY rare. Cut small pieces, chew your small bites well.
  • Beef is beef. Get your moo at a steak place instead.
Grapefruit ($7) semifreddo, blueberry jelly, pecan grapefruit crumb, buttermilk ice cream
  • Two curious large cubes of semifreddo (?) that really did taste like grapefruit. Which made me wonder why they didn't just serve grapefruit.
  • Interesting to try plus tasty enough.
Chocolate ($7) chocolate custard, honeycomb, salted caramel ice cream, lemon & chocolate dust
  • Chocolate custard looked like ganache but the texture was slightly weird. Still, chocolate is chocolate. Be careful about pairing it in the same bite with the rest of the plate as it can overpower the other flavor.
  • Something really peanutty-tasty about the light brown parts of this dessert.
Winning plates for me were the Risotto (of which there was sadly too little) and the Kale salad.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Skype the cheapest cellphone plan

Here's my cellphone plan: SKYPE.

No, really.

Skype CANNOT be used for emergency calls, so you have two options:
Otherwise, get a $2.99/month subscription with Skype. You still need Wifi, which means you need a data plan... or do you? Just go to any Starbucks (and thankfully they are everywhere) and mooch their wifi. Or try your luck anywhere, really, since so many places offer free wifi. By 2016, the city of Surrey should be offering free Wifi. And Vancouver, of course, is moving toward the same.

To use this Skype cellphone plan, NEVER answer your phone. Your missed calls log will show who's calling you. Then, when you get to a free Wifi source, call them on Skype.

If you are at home, you may consider investing in a cheap router so that you can use your own home internet service to broadcast your own private Wifi -- why pay for data on your phone when you're already paying for it for your home internet?

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Railtown Tailgate Summer Barbecue Series

Click to add a blog post for Railtown Cafe on Zomato
Railtown Cafe is offering their Tailgate Summer Barbecue Series. They've already done three but there are two more to go: September-12 and September-26.

With the BBQ there are two options:

Meat-Lovers ($16, $18.85 after Eventbrite fee and GST)
  • 35-hour Texas-style beef brisket
  • Applewood-smoked pork shoulder (pulled pork)
  • Beer-brined Fraser Valley Chicken
  • D'Original Sausage Haus Brats
  • Tabatha's Jalapeño Cornbread
  • Corn on the Cob
  • Choice of two sides:
    • Carolina Coleslaw
    • Creamy Potato Salad
    • Classic Caesar Salad
    • Farmer's Market Field Greens
  • Gluten-Free option available! Skip the cornbread and the sausage and you are basically safe. Still, best to double-check by calling ahead.
Vegetarian ($10, $12.09 after Eventbrite fee and GST)
  • No meat, obviously.
  • You get the cornbread, grilled corn, and all sides
For $18.85 including tax but excluding tip (which you basically could get away with not paying), you got a pretty heaping plate of stuff.
  • It still looks pricey, BUT you will also get a drink with your ticket if you purchased it online.
    • Supposed value is $6, but it could be a boring non-alcoholic beverage worth 50 cents.
    • Alcoholic beverage is probably worth around $6, which is also what their 4pm-6pm happy hour drinks are priced. So your plate of 2/3rds meat, 1/3rd greens is about $13 after tax and unnecessary tip, making it really decent value in terms of quantity, and really good BBQ meat in terms of quality.
  • You can choose to skip some items and I think you get compensated with more of other things. The exact quantity of stuff is not a measured amount, so plates will vary a bit.
  • Remember to wait for the BBQ sauce if you like that on your meat.
  • The Beef Brisket was probably the best -- tender, though with a good amount of fat on it as well.
  • Some people in our group fell in love with the cornbread, but I was too focussed on finding the jalapeño in it but only seeing the odd green spec. No heat whatsoever. Really decent as cornbread, though.
  • For the chicken, if you demand tender chicken, ask for dark meat, which was very tender and quite fall-off-the-bone. If you end up with white meat (chicken breast, most likely) it could be on the dry side as chicken breast typically is.
TIP: It's still a sketchy neighbourhood, so if walking from Waterfront Station, I recommend against walking alone, even during broad daylight.

TIP: Watch out for parking restrictions. We saw a lot of cars ticketed and one car towed after 9pm.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Tasty way to eat fries at The Spud Shack Fry Co

Click to add a blog post for The Spud Shack Fry Co. on Zomato
The Spud Shack Fry Co. has (among other things), "poutines" -- fries with stuff on them. It's kind of like Chinese noodles at a budget Chinese restaurant -- lots of cheap carbs with a pile of stuff on top.

It's a small, dim place with simple seating. They are presently slightly understaffed, so don't expect all tables to be wiped down during or shortly after their dinner rush.

TIP: When you walk in, look up. It says "Order Here". We totally missed that and instead went to secure seats for our party. Only later did we wander over to the counter, and we still didn't see the big sign right over the counter. Duh.

TIP: If you can get to New Westminster Skytrain Station before 6pm, they have $5 drinks on Happy Hour special that ends at 6pm. Also late-night "Last Call" $5 drink specials (the one hour before closing).

Their Large Poutines are mostly $15 and you get a heaping plate of fries. We're talking probably 3-4 cups of fries. Depending on the topping you choose, you might get more or less toppings. The "Night Market" poutine looked like it had maybe 50% more quantity of toppings overall compared to the "Squealer" which was topped with pulled pork.

Price for portion is a bit high but you are also paying for the "fancy toppings" so overall it comes out to decent value. $15 is a gourmet burger plus side. Here you have all sides plus toppings, and probably more volume for your money. Also, a single Large Poutine probably works out to a light meal for two persons. Sharing plates and extra forks are available for the asking.

The Squealer ($15 for large) pulled pork, BBQ sauce
  • Pulled pork OK. BBQ sauce not overdone, so the whole thing wasn't a too-salty too-sweet mess which can sometimes happen when you get a pulled pork + BBQ combo.
The Night Market ($15 for large) Kimchi, Ginger Beef, Crispy Wontons, Spicy mayo, Green Onion, Sesame Seeds
  • "Crispy wontons" are the deep fried strips that look like noodles. Doesn't really add that much to the taste. Probably more for fun.
  • There were sesame seeds?
  • Gingery from the beef.
  • No heat from the kimchi. Not too much kimchi (probably a good thing), but enough to be there.
  • Overall quite interesting and tasty, but the clear ginger taste might be startling to some.
I was experimenting with Skype on my cellphone today so for once I actually did take this picture. The picture is slightly angled, so the Squealer Poutine looks like it has a slightly smaller plate, but the plates were the same size (about 6" diameter excluding the handles) with a fork sticking straight up.
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2015-Aug-6 Spud Shack large poutines - Squealer (top) and Night Market (bottom)