Thursday, November 26, 2015

Bread in soup at Sunny Spot Cafe

Sunny Spot Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Brightly lit little mom-and-pop outfit on Main Street. Would normally have given it a miss except my friend had been there before and recommended it.
Restaurant interior and layout is awful but they have some nice pieces if you look around, like a very long painting of horses frolicking.

TIP: Look around for a ceramic jar of chili paste swimming in what is possibly sesame seed oil and liberally sprinkled with sesame seeds. It's fragrant and not that spicy-hot. Highly recommend you give this a taste and think about whether to add it to your order. My flatbread-in-soup would have been way tastier with a liberal helping of it.

Pao-mo (homemade flatbread) in soup ($8) beef, lamb, or tripe
  • I got the lamb one on the owner's recommendation. Surprisingly fragrant soup.
  • The small chunks of torn-up flatbread didn't do much for me but it did make the soup heartier.
  • Looks simple but pretty tasty.
  • Portion size is like a small pho bowl.
  • Felt a bit stingy on the meat but the broth and aroma was flavourful. Might have been because it was at the end of the day (?) and they were running low on lamb? Or they wanted you to pay $2 for "extra meat" -- see the lower right corner of the menu.
Glass noodles in hot and sour soup ($6)
  • It's advertised as "soup" but you're not getting a token amount of noodles. This is basically a light-meal bowl of noodles.
  • Didn't feel it was hot or sour enough. Might be toned down for a Western clientele?
  • Tasted OK.
Braised Pork Bun ($4), Marinated Beef Bun ($4)
  • Price looks atrocious for what you get -- a breakfast muffin-sized toasted bun with some meat in it. But wait! -- A burger nowadays will set you back about $12-$16+, and it has only marginally more meat in its patty than a bun from Sunny Spot Cafe. So this may actually be par price.
  • Pork bun didn't do anything for me but the slightly curried but not spicy-hot beef filling in the beef bun was tasty!
There is very much a "home-cooked meal" feel to the food here that totally makes me feel confident everything is made in-house.

2015-Nov-26 Sunny Spot Cafe menu

2015-Nov-26 Sunny Spot Cafe glass noodles in hot and sour soup

2015-Nov-26 Sunny Spot Cafe pao-mo in soup

2015-Nov-26 Sunny Spot Cafe buns

2015-Nov-26 Sunny Spot Cafe braised pork bun

2015-Nov-26 Sunny Spot Cafe chili sauce at the table

2015-Nov-26 Sunny Spot Cafe flatbreads

2015-Nov-26 Sunny Spot Cafe horses

2015-Nov-26 Sunny Spot Cafe cutlery

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Cheap tasty noodles at G-Men

G-men @ Nan Chu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato G-Men Ramen is a tight little space with a totally inadequate waiting area (but benches right outside) because of the queue that apparently forms every day, not just Friday and Saturday nights. However, turnaround is quite fast. There is also "bar seating", which actually isn't that bad as the bar table is quite wide. Good for couples since they are side by side anyway.
Make sure you put your name down on the waiting list (which can move quite quickly despite the maximum 2-hr time limit per seating) when you arrive. You will be asked whether you are okay with bar seating or if you need a table, at the time you put your name down and again when seating becomes available.

Tan Tan Men ($10.25) 8oz spicy sesame & peanut flavour pork bone broth with thin noodle
  • Thin noodle looks like the type you get in a packet of instant noodles. And there's a LOT of it. Quite a bit of diced pork as well.
  • Overall, a heavy and filling meal for just $10.25 and you may want to consider not ordering a drink in case you can't finish it all.
  • Tasty and peanutty but not spicy enough for me. There are condiments at the table to add more heat (or garlic!).
  • Good and tasty but I think Kingyo's Tan Tan Noodles still edges out and is a bit cheaper too (but isn't peanutty, if that is the predominant flavour you want).
AAA Beef Yukke ($9.25) chopped beef sashimi marinated in yukke sauce
  • Reminds me of steak tartare but totally not the same in taste.
  • Served cold and totally worth a try as it's tasty. But pricey.
Kimchi Baigai ($5.95) kimchi and Japanese ivory shell
  •  Our server couldn't explain "ivory shell" but it turns out they are a type of sea snail. Quite firm and more crunchy than chewy but not hard to eat at all.
  • Overall, a cheap way to try an interesting food. Quite a good amount of snail as well.
  • Other than the novelty, give this a pass. You mostly taste the kimchi anyway unless you carefully isolate the snail, which isn't that tasty on its own.
2015-Nov-24 G-Men tan tan noodle bowl and saucer

2015-Nov-24 G-Men tan tan noodle

2015-Nov-24 G-Men beef yukke

2015-Nov-24 G-Men kimchi

2015-Nov-24 G-Men ivory shell

Pricey mangoes at Mango Mama

Mango Mama Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Mango Mama Cafe Ltd. is a simple, brightly lit restaurant with booth seating that comfortably seats four and a fifth awkwardly with an extra chair. You order by ticking off a menu sheet -- sort of like dim sum. There is no "customer service" per se except they check if you're ready and bring your order to the table.

The mangoes here are Philippine Mangos, which are supposedly the sweetest in the world and also hideously expensive here for being imported. If you don't care about that, you will feel like you are overpaying for simple things like adding some fresh mangoes to your fluffy ice, or getting a "fresh mango pancake" weighing in at $10.95. Which I got (see pics below).

The crepe is thin and filled with mango cubes plus whipped cream (?). Also takes a while to make -- longer than my friend's mango fluffy ice.

The fluffy ice comes out looking like a pile of phyllo pastry, and strangely keeps that look for a very long time. Portion is also huge for $4.95 -- similar to Icy Bar, but instead of unlimited condensed milk, your ice is flavoured here. Great for sharing and just hanging out for a while, especially since it doesn't melt on you so quickly.

2015-Nov-24 Mango Mama mango pancake

2015-Nov-24 Mango Mama mango pancake (inside)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Comfort food at Tenen

Tenen Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Tenen is a rather small restaurant in a sort of residential area but not too far from Royal Oak Skytrain Station. Eastern European-ish decor. Tight seat spacing. TVs and small bar make this also a sports bar.

Staff still seem very inexperienced, but at least the food is good--Tasty comfort food at a very good price for portion.
Strangely, they ran out of some menu items at around 7.30pm, including cabbage rolls and their breaded crepe appetizer.

Complimentary bread with your main -- each person gets one large, flattish bun cut into two halves. DO NOT EAT. If you do, you may not finish your main, depending on what you order and your appetite at the time. In any case, it is boring bread and there is no butter, spread, dip or anything to go with it.
Save it for getting the last of any tasty sauce or stew from your main, or eat it later during your meal if you don't think you will be full.
Yes, the main can be that filling.

Stuffed Pork Chop ($17.95) boneless pork chop stuffed with prosciutto and cheese finished in gorgonzola mushroom sauce & served with mashed potato and grilled vegetables 
  • Sizable chunk of pork (8 oz? 10 oz?). Pretty tasty, if simple. My pork felt a bit firm, though.
  • Also came with a bit of seasoned rice that was actually really tasty all on its own.
  • At basically $18 this is as filling as $18 dollars should be. Add on even half the allocated portion of bread and you could be in trouble.
 Chicken Roulade ($16.95) chicken breast stuffed with spinach and cheese, wrapped in bacon.  Served with horseradish mustard sauce, grilled vegetables, and fries 
  • Surprisingly tender chicken white meat.
  • Looks like a long, fat, sausage maybe 8 inches long and a little over an inch thick. That's quite a lot of meat, especially when it also comes with fries. 
  • A bit on the salty side because of all that bacon.
Sour Cherry Cream Pie ($5.25)
  • Dessert of the day. Description from the server sounded and what came to the plate was very different.
  • Looked like filo rolls of sour cherries were laid in a cream cheese or custardy sort of mix. You get a slice of this, so it looks like yellow creamy stuff studded with sour cherries.
  • Served with whipped cream, a drizzle of chocolate, and cocoa powder.
  • Pretty tasty and okay-to-smallish portion for price. Definitely a very interesting dessert.
Overall, ok to tasty comfort food at a great price if you are looking for a very filling meal. And your plate has a good ratio of meat to cheap filler.

Points lost for not returning my phone call for reservations and not answering website e-mail about reservations.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Anatolia's Gate meatballs and curry

Anatolia's Gate Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Back to Anatolia's Gate -- because there was a Meetup there tonight and my friend was interested in Turkish food, so I went with her.

If you are in a group, the lavash bread that comes with your meal will also be communal!

Meat Lovers Pide ($11.95) Anatolia's Ground Meat, Turkish Pastrami, tomatoes, cheese, egg
  • Quite small. Rather thin film of mixed meat. Either some spicing to the meat or it was the influence of the Turkish Pastrami.
  • Not that tasty to me, maybe because there was too little meat.
  • Meat portion is basically around $8 since the bread portion is probably about the same as a medium lavash bread. Overpriced.
  • If you don't need the cheese, consider getting the lahmajun instead -- more meat spread over a thin crust, $11.45
Chicken Curry ($14.95) chicken breast chunks with curry sauce, rice, and salads; served with a freshly baked lavash bread and yogurt sauce
  • The curry here is strong and has some heat, but not too much. Very much not like an Indian curry, if that is what you are hoping for.
  • The salad of chopped tomatoes and chilies (possibly ezme -- fresh tomatoes, parsley, onion, hot peppers, olive oil) is bitter and very spicy-hot, so watch out! Use the yogurt sauce to clear your palate if necessary -- don't blow it all on the lavash bread even though that tends to come very early.
  • Not quite as much chicken as pictured in the menu.
  • Big meal, so-so in taste. Felt maybe slightly overpriced for $14.95 but very filling because of the bowl of rice in the middle.
Kofte Guvech ($14.95) Anatolia's Ground Meat balls with oven-roasted veggies, tomato sauce, and cheese baked in oven; served with lavash
  • Rather firm but still moist meatballs that merged together during baking.
  • Some sour stuff (pickles?) in the stew.
  • Looked like a smallish order for price.
Service felt polite and attentive. When I sat down, almost right away someone came with water. When there were more of us, they brought over a carafe.
2015-Nov-20 Anatolia's Gate Meat Pide

2015-Nov-20 Anatolia's Gate Meat Pide (under the cheese)

2015-Nov-20 Anatolia's Gate chicken curry

2015-Nov-20 Anatolia's Gate kofte guvech

2015-Nov-20 Anatolia's Gate lavash (large - $6)

2015-Nov-20 Anatolia's Gate lavash (medium - $4)

2015-Nov-20 Anatolia's Gate menu 1 of 3

2015-Nov-20 Anatolia's Gate menu 2 of 3

2015-Nov-20 Anatolia's Gate menu 3 of 3

Mad Love at Red Robin

Red Robin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato I would not normally have gone back yet again to Red Robin, except it was my friend's birthday and she had a coupon. Which didn't say anything about not working with their Angus Beef burgers, so fortunately having experienced that limitation, I was able to avoid disaster by having her double-check with the server.
Oh, and you have to submit your printed e-mail to the server to actually get your burger taken off the bill. Apparently the server has to get the sign-off from the duty manager.

My friend and I both got different burgers and the kitchen was kind enough to cut them in half for us so we could both have a solid taste of each. Unfortunately the burgers were not evenly laid out inside, so one of us ended up with most of the patty from the Bleu Ribbon Burger.

Mad Love Burger ($17.29) 100% Black Angus beef burger (half pound) topped with a cheddar and parmesan cris, jalapeño relish, candied bacon, avocado, citrus marinated tomatoes and onions, shredded romaine, ciabatta bun.
  • It's a big burger, which makes this order a big meal once you consider the unlimited fries.
  • Fries were lousy. I didn't bother finishing them and instead took most of them home for rework. Maybe I'll make a poutine or something.
  • Couldn't really taste all the goodies in here except the burger, which was slightly over-done and therefore a bit drier than it should have been.
  • The cheese "crisp" is cheese seared till it's dry and brown and crunchy. You can try it at home with cheddar. Didn't get much of that flavour because it was buried under the burger and sauce flavour.
  • No bite from the jalapeño at all.
  • Don't waste your time getting this. You do get what is advertised, but the flavours of the special ingredients like candied bacon didn't really come through for me. You get a filling meal, but a cheaper Red Robin burger will probably be just as filling, especially when some of the sides are unlimited.
Bleu Ribbon Burger ($11.99) Topped with tangy steak sauce, chipotle aioli, Bleu cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and crispy onion straws. Served on an onion bun, but you can request a different bun.
  • Blue cheese is so strong that it was basically all I tasted.
  • My friend upgraded her unlimited fries to Yam Fries (+$1.49). The dip that came with that was watery. FAIL.
Hot Tea ($2.79)
  • Apparently you can order tea! I asked for Mint and got a Mint Medley Herbal Tea from Bigelow.
  • Came as one small teapot of hot water and one unopened tea bag.
  • One mug is standard but they had no problem giving me a second mug for my friend.
  • Free hot water refill.
2015-Nov Limited Time Mad Love Burger promo

Red Robin Mad Love angus beef burger

Red Robin bleu ribbon burger with yam fries upgrade

Red Robin onion rings

Red Robin tea order

Red Robin menu showing chocolate fruffles

Red Robin bottomless options

2015-Nov Red Robin bonus gift card offer

2015-Nov Red Robin daily drink specials

Pints of Coney Island Frozen Custard

The American Cheesesteak Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato This is actually inside The American Cheesesteak Company, and the person who answers the phone will say so. Also, close to closing time when it's really quiet (even around half an hour or possibly more before closing), they may put the chairs up to clean the floors. THEY ARE STILL OPEN! Try the door and see.

The frozen custard here is like soft serve ice cream, except it is firmer and a bit more elastic feeling. Slight custard flavour plus whatever flavour you chose.

Apple Pie
  • Like apple pie filling, not the apple pie crust part. Even has soft bits of apple in it.
  • Rather good but would be even better if flavour were stronger.
Salted Caramel
  • More salty than caramel-y. Maybe too much on the salty side.
If you just want one flavour, under no circumstances should you buy scoops or cones. Get a whole pint for the same price as a couple of scoops. Grab one of the plastic sample spoons. Then go to the nearby Emery Barnes Park and enjoy.

2015-Nov-19 Coney Island Frozen Custard menu and choices

Coney Island Frozen Custard pints

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Joe Fortes 1985 menu

Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato A little while back I mentioned that Joe Fortes was offering certain menu items at 1985 prices this week. I finally got to go, and sad to say, it was my most disappointing Joe Fortes experience ever.

When you are offering burgers for $6.95 and small bowls of Clam Chowder for $2.95, obviously you can expect the restaurant to be overwhelmed. No reservations. Bar seating only. People packed the lobby shortly before 11 AM. Staff understandably haggard but doing their best to keep a smile and their chins up. Still, not the best situation to expect great service and for the kitchen to put out the best meal.

Clam Chowder 1985 ($2.95)
  • Good deal as far as price for portion.
  • Very chunky! Definitely not going cheap here with a soupy chowder.
  • As chowders go, inferior to anything I had in San Francisco. Definitely lacking in richness of taste.
Blackened Rockfish 1985 ($11.95)
  • My plate was hot -- so hot that I couldn't hold it with bare hands for more than a few seconds. But the fish was room temperature. Reasonably moist and tender, though.
  • Despite the blackening and what looked like maybe herbs or spices crusted on it, fish tasted like fish. Boring, sadly. But at least it was only $12.
Free bread and lobster oil, of course. Thank you Joe Fortes for at least keeping that tradition when so many restaurants have dropped it.

For what I got for what I paid, I would have traded it all for a single order of their fantastic spicy prawn taco appy. This meal tasted rather "meh" and that's not what you go to Joe Fortes for.


They made an error in serving two steaks that came to our table, accidentally swapping a rare for someone else's medium-rare. The person who got rare instead of medium-rare didn't say anything, so I suppose that's partially our fault. At the same time, the server tried to pass off the medium-rare as a rare when it clearly was not.
Eventually it got cleared up, but I think this highlights the importance of immediately inquiring when anything is amiss.
2015-Nov-19 Joe Fortes blackened rockfish

2015-Nov-19 Joe Fortes Clam Chowder

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

La Belle Patate smoked meat poutine

La Belle Patate Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato La Belle Patate is a simple diner with order-at-the-counter service. Despite the vegetarian gravy, as poutine gravy goes, it tasted okay.

They claim to have squeaky Quebecois cheese curds, which I can't say I've experienced in Quebec. What I did get tonight was room temperature curds that were quite firm. Is that what the "squeaking" is all about?
In any case, if you've had poutine where the curds have been softened or basically melted, then you will not get here. The owners have mentioned on Yelp that it is not the Quebec way to serve the cheese curds like that and therefore not the way you will get it at La Belle Patate. The cheese-curd-to-fries ratio also seems higher than other poutine places I've tried.

Smoked Meat Poutine ($10.50 for medium size)
  • Lots of cheese curds. Decent amount of fries but not heaping portions.
  • For smoked meat, I was expecting something thinner-cut and more tender -- i.e., like the smoked meat sandwiches. Instead I got crunchy chunks of meat with the firmness and texture of ham you might get at Superstore, and at about the same saltiness.
Price for portion is decent and you can get a light meal for around $8 or a medium meal for around $10. But if you are willing to pay a bit more (and also get a bigger plate of fries for your poutine), you may find Spud Shack Fry Co. has much more interesting choices.

2015-Nov-18 La Belle Patate smoked meat poutine (medium)

2015-Nov-18 La Belle Patate smoked meat poutine closeup

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Get free stuff to try from SocialNature

You have have seen some posts about samples from SocialNature, such as Happy Water or Tega Tea.

If have been curious about how to get these free samples, whether you are in Canada or the United States, follow this link to sign up. It is FREE to join and they send you "samples" for free, either as the product or as coupons to reimburse you for the before-tax price.

By "samples", typically they send you one unit of the product that you might buy in the grocery store or supermarket; in rare cases, such as 6 Mountains Tea, they send just a few tea bags.

Earls Truffle Fries

Earls Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Ended up here with some friends after a late Meetup. Ordered Truffle Fries to share.

Truffle Fries ($8.25) with our custom salt and pepper blend, truffle aioli
  • Where's the truffle flavour and aroma? I got just a faint whiff of it.
  • Tasted like heavily peppered french fries.
  • For a bit more, you can get a really good portion of truffle parmesan fries from Joe Fortes during their Happy Hour.
Bibimbap ($15) Hot stone rice bowl, with carrots, mushrooms, zucchini and soft poached egg, sesame chili sauce
  • My friend's order. Didn't get to try it, but notable for not having a lot of rice.
  • Bowl was maybe only half full and most of it seemed to be the other ingredients, carrot, mushrooms, etcetera, plus the tofu for which she paid $3 extra.
Spacious location with some interesting decor, such as a giant chimpanzee. Table spacing also seemed very good, giving you reasonable privacy from neighbouring diners.

Currently they have a special promotion where buying a $50 gift card gets you an extra $10 usable only during a limited time in January/February (i.e., during the slow restaurant time when everyone else is doing Dine Out Vancouver).



2015-Nov-11 Earls bonus gift card offer