Vancouver Food Cart Fest 2013

If you’re at all familiar with the food scene in Vancouver, you’re probably aware that this post is long overdue, since the food cart festival is a summer event. (And obviously for good reason, what with all the rain we get). I actually visited the festival in September with Sam and Pickles, when all of us had returned from our summer travels, so this post is actually only four months in the making. What with school and work and life in general, it can be a bit difficult to keep on top of things…that’s my excuse, anyways.

Despite the burgeoning food cart scene in Vancouver, I often find it difficult to seek out the specific ones that catch my interest. Many of them are open for a limited time during the day, or only at a specific location that is out of the way of my usual commute. Well, thank goodness for the food cart festival, then, which conveniently gathers Vancouver’s most popular food carts in one area so that folks like me can get to pig out to our hearts’ content. In 2013, the festival was hosted in a lot right by False Creek, which made it easily accessible by SkyTrain for us car-less folk.

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The three of us split up to consider our options, and Sam ended up with a Sourdough Pepperjack Cheese Sandwich ($8) from Mom’s Grilled Cheese. She had tomatoes and double smoked bacon added to her sandwich for $0.50 and $1.50, respectively. She quite enjoyed her sandwich, as the bread was fried up nicely on the griddle, making it crispy but not too greasy. Meanwhile, the sandwich itself was quite hot, so the cheese had that perfected melted consistency that we all look for in a grilled cheese sandwich. The sandwich is also served with chips, which were stuffed at the bottom of the paper cone, making the chips themselves soggy. Sam noted that she’d had the sandwich and chips served on a plate before, which was much better, as the chips didn’t get soggy. Still, the tomatoes and bacon nicely enhanced her sandwich, making it an enjoyable meal. Sam also indulged in a Ginger Mint Lemonade ($2.75), also from Mom’s, which tasted mostly of ginger with only a slight tint of lemon. It also had a slight enjoyable fizziness, and was an enjoyable drink for the very hot day that we were enduring.

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Meanwhile, Pickles and I wandered over to Yolk’s Breakfast. I’d wanted to try Yolk’s for a while, but simply never had the chance to. I’ve now had their food twice, once here and once at the actual restaurant now open on Hastings Street, but there was a time when I used to drool over some other fortunate soul’s Instagrammed chicken and waffles or soft-poached egg sandwich.

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The wait was long and arduous, but we finally received our orders and, luckily enough, found a shaded table to sit down and munch. Pickles had the Chicken and Waffles, which didn’t look super pretty but definitely did the job. The chicken was crispy, juicy, and flavourful, and came in large pieces. I’m a big fan of fried chicken (and pretty much every other deep-fried food), and I often find that I get more batter than actual chicken, but that certainly wasn’t the case here. The waffle itself was nice and buttery, but a little too soft for her liking, although it might have been softened by the hot weather and the fact that it took us a while to find a table to sit at. But then again, Pickles was fresh from her trip to Belgium at this point, so perhaps her waffle standards were a bit too high.

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Meanwhile, I had an item that I’d longed for for quite a while, a Poached Free-Range Egg Sandwich ($7.50). They have a beautiful flowchart where you can customize your sandwich, and I had mine with hand-carved honey ham, fresh spinach, dijon, hollandaise, one poached egg, all on an English muffin. There were quite a few flavours going on here: the saltiness from the ham, the tartness from the hollandaise, and a nice, comforting savouriness from the egg yolk. The English muffin was soft to begin with, and only got softer once I broke the egg yolk. This resulted in a super messy sandwich to eat, although it wasn’t a huge problem once I decided to fork-and-knife it. Breakfast sandwiches are my favourite type of sandwich, and this one was certainly yummy, but I’m not really sure if this particular combination was worth the hype that often accompanies any talk about Yolk’s.

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It’s just not breakfast without potatoes, and at Yolk’s these come in the form of a Truffle-Lemon Hash Brown Skewer ($3.50). At first bite, my hash browns were quite tart, with a very strong lemon flavour, but after that, the flavour seemed to mellow out, which was good. I think I waited too long to eat mine, as they got quite soggy, but other than that, these potatoes did an excellent job.

After finishing our food, the three of us took a nice walk along False Creek and enjoyed the sunshine. This was back in September, mind you, when Vancouver was enjoying sunny weather rather than the dreary, foggy dampness that we’re enduring now. Summer is always a season I look forward to, but the food cart festival definitely adds to an already perfect time of year.

Mom’s Grilled Cheese Truck
800 West Georgia Street
Vancouver, BC

Mom's Grilled Cheese Truck on Urbanspoon

Yolk’s Breakfast
Vancouver, BC

Yolk's Breakfast on Urbanspoon

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Bandidas Taqueria

After a long and wonderful summer filled with European travels, I returned to Vancouver. Hopefully I don’t sound too much like I belong on a yellow brick road, but there’s really no place like home. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to travel, to gaze down on Paris from Montmartre, to sample some Guinness in Dublin, to watch the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, and to study in Oxford’s Bodleian Library. Landing at YVR was quickly followed by guzzling down an Ice Capp, snuggling my cat, and unpacking the souvenirs I’d acquired for family and friends. Returning to Vancouver means returning to Vancouver eats, and I had no problem with that, as there are still plenty of restaurants both old and new that I have yet to try.

On a bright, cool October day, Pickles and I decided to meet up for a late lunch on Commercial Drive. Despite hopping on and off the 99 from and to UBC many days out of the week, I have to admit that my exploration of the area has been minimal. I just don’t feel the urge to explore when I’m hauling around my laptop, books, and am generally just exhausted from the effort of trekking down to campus. In any case, Pickles and I decided that we’d start trying out some restaurants on the drive, and our first choice was Bandidas Taqueria.

DSC_0036Bandidas, like many restaurants on the drive, just has that requisite hipster vibe, complete with mason jars used as cups. The restaurant itself was quiet when we arrived, but then again, it was around 3 P.M. All the better for us to have a nice conversation without having to compete with background noise.

We both started off with a Horchata ($3), which is available with either almond, soy, or regular milk. I thought it was a nice touch to have all three available, and I opted for almond milk. The horchata was generously sprinkled with cinnamon, which added a flavourful hit of spice. The drink itself was creamy but not without that quintessential nuttiness. It was an excellent way to start off our meal.

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One of my fondest childhood memories is going to camp in elementary school and consuming an inordinate amount of cornbread and chili. Whenever I see chili on a menu, I tend to order it, and that’s what happened here. This Chili ($7) was a vegetarian stew, topped with melted cheese and avocado. The avocado added a nice savouriness to this meatless chili, and it went well with the thick, hearty stew. The cheese also made it taste rich and luxurious. Despite lacking meat, the chili was full of ingredients, including chickpeas, corn, and some small pieces of celery. I personally would have preferred it to be a bit spicier, but other than that, I was immensely satisfied. It was also a great value for the price that I paid, as I ended up having the leftovers for dinner as well.

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Pickles, meanwhile, had three tacos, which totalled to around $8. She thought that overall, the tacos were a good value, as they were packed with filling, but that also made them difficult to eat. The Leona Gayle (chipotle tofu, pinto beans, cheese, roasted red salsa, romaine lettuce, and sour cream) in particular was too wet, and she had to resort to fork and knife to get at it. She also tried the Connie’s, which consisted of ground walnuts, apple salsa, cheese, and roasted red pepper sauce, and the Wolf & Goat, which had fresh guacamole, purple cabbage, pinto beans, fresh red salsa, cheese, and sour cream. She thought that the former would have benefitted from toasted, crunchier walnuts, while the latter was the best of the three she’d tried. The addition of guacamole was a nice touch, and the cabbage added some much-needed texture.

The two of us really enjoyed our late lunch at Bandidas. I wish that yummy Mexican food were more accessible in Vancouver, but this was more than acceptable, especially for the prices that we paid. If I were on the Drive again, I would gladly return here, especially for that yummy horchata, and to try more dishes on their extensive menu.

Bandidas Taqueria
2781 Commercial Drive
Vancouver, BC

Bandidas Taqueria on Urbanspoon


Nuba

I don’t consider myself to be too picky of an eater (although my mother may disagree), and in general, I’m quite open to trying new and different foods. For one thing, I get quite excited whenever an “exotic meat” (a.k.a. anything outside of the usual realm of pork/beef/chicken/lamb/duck/seafood) is available on a restaurant’s menu. Well, this food adventure didn’t feature any exotic meats, unless you consider lamb to be exotic, but it was still exciting in that it was my first time trying Lebanese food.

Nuba is a popular chain in Vancouver, with four locations located throughout the city. Gawa and I decided to lunch at the location on Main and 3rd one Saturday afternoon. It’s kind of an odd location, and, true to the spirit of the city, surrounded by apartment buildings in various stages of construction. Still, it ended up being a good choice for lunch, especially for Gawa, as it has an extensive selection of vegetarian items.

DSC_0001The waitstaff were especially helpful and enthusiastic to help us make our choices, and good thing too. Despite my unfamiliarity with Lebanese cuisine, everything on the menu sounded delicious. In any case, we started off our meal with a Mango and Orange Juice for Gawa, which was the juice of the day in addition to the usual flavours available. Gawa generously allowed me a sip, and, to be honest, it tasted mostly like orange juice, with the mango flavour being not as apparent. It was still refreshing and enjoyable, but I would have liked it more if the mango flavour had been more pronounced. But then again, I’m not much of a juice person. As far as juices go, it was tart, refreshing, slightly sweet, and ultimately satisfying. And honestly, what more can you ask from juice?

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As for our mains, we both ordered off the “Plates” section of the menu, where the entrees are accompanied by hummus, salad, pickled cabbage, pita bread, tahini (a paste made from ground sesame seeds), hot sauce, and a choice of either roasted potatoes or organic brown rice. Gawa chose to have her Eggplant Stew with the potatoes, while I had the rice. Although she enjoyed the meal as a whole, she had more than a few critiques of the food. She found that the salad wasn’t well-dressed, and the dressing itself wasn’t anything special, while the hummus could have been more flavourful. Still, she enjoyed the olive oil that had been drizzled onto the hummus, which appeared to be of a good quality. As for the other sides, she especially liked the pickled cabbage, which, being extremely sour, served as a refreshing palate cleanser. As for the stew itself, she thought that it could have used some other types of chunkier vegetables, to add variety of texture as well as dimension of flavour, as it ended up being a bit too mushy and one-dimensional. Despite these complaints, she thought that the experience was a positive one, and would definitely consider returning.

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I decided on the Lamb Kafta ($12), a grilled grain-fed halal lamb patty, served with the same sides (although with the rice instead of the potatoes). I enjoyed the lamb, although I thought it was served with way too much tzatziki. The dollop of tzatziki was pretty much the same size as the lamb patty itself, which was just overwhelming. Anyways, the tzatziki itself was fine, being chunky, sour, and tangy. It was a nice complement to the slightly gamey, salty flavour of the lamb. The rice tasted exactly like how I expected it to taste, with the texture being more apparent than the flavour of the rice itself. As for the sides, my opinions echoed Gawa’s, although I especially enjoyed the hot sauce, which was the type with a subtle spicy kick rather than an obvious heat.

DSC_0006Both of our meals were accompanied by some Pita. Gawa thought that the pita should have been thicker, but I personally had no opinion about it one way or the other. To be honest, I was quite hungry so I inhaled the food without too much thought. And although it seems like we had a lot of complaints about the food here, we genuinely enjoyed our meal, although that may be in part due to our hungry hungry hippo-ness on this particular day. More than the food, we enjoyed the atmosphere here. The dining area was clean and modern, and the service was friendly and accommodating without being overbearing. And, of course, the menu is a refreshing change of pace from the overwhelming dominance of Japanese food in Vancouver (although, as you know, I enjoy Japanese food as much as the next person). I would definitely return to Nuba to try some of their other dishes, especially Najib’s Special, which is apparently the dish to get here. I guess we’ll save that for next time.

Nuba
146 East 3rd Avenue
Vancouver, BC

Nuba on Urbanspoon


Toshi Sushi

Probably the cuisine I longed for most during my two-month European adventure was Japanese food. Authentic or inauthentic, we are blessed in Vancouver to be able to enjoy sushi, ramen, and other Japanese foods to our hearts’ content. Sometime soon after I returned to Vancouver, SB and I decided to try out Toshi Sushi, one of the most popular sushi restaurants in Vancouver, at least according to Urbanspoon.

Despite its popularity, I’d never been to Toshi before. Located on East 16th and Main, the tiny restaurant was bustling with activity. At least they have a system in place. Basically you just walk in and record your name on a list posted near the front door, and the servers seat people via this list. We had to wait half an hour for our seats after recording our names, but the weather was nice enough that we just took a walk around the neighbourhood.

We were finally seated at the bar. I personally love sitting at the bar because it allows me to observe the chefs at work. The sushi chefs here were clearly skilled, but also immaculate in terms of hygiene and cleanliness, which I think is a must-have for a restaurant where raw fish is a major ingredient.

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We started off with four pieces of Maguro Sashimi ($5.75). We actually watched as the chef in front of us cut the slices, so the anticipation was that much greater. The sashimi was buttery soft and served in slices that were thick enough but not overly so. The thickness of the slices allowed us to really savour each piece as it melted in our mouths. The fish was also noticeably fresh and incredibly smooth, and an excellent way to start our meal.

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Next up, we also had four rolls. The two rolls on the left, the Spicy Tuna Roll and the Spicy Chopped Scallop Roll made up the Spicy Combo ($7.75). We also added on the two rolls on the right, which were the Negitoro Maki ($3.50) and the Family Maki ($4.25). In general, I enjoyed these rolls, as they were clearly made with care. The rice had just the right hits of sugar and vinegar. The spicy tuna and the negitoro were quite similar in terms of the texture of the tuna used, which was pleasantly creamy. The naturally mushy texture of the tuna was nicely complemented by the use of cucumber and green onion, as well as the addition of spicy sauce in the spicy tuna roll. I was particularly happy with the negitoro roll here because of the sheer amount of tuna used, since most sushi restaurants in Vancouver serve the negitoro roll in a smaller portion. Anyways, the spicy sauce, which I believe was some kind of variation on Japanese mayonnaise, was the type with a subtle sting rather than overt heat, if that makes any sense, making it not too spicy. The same sauce was used for the spicy chopped scallop roll, so the two rolls naturally tasted quite similar. The family roll was basically a salmon maki with ikura on top, and mainly relied on the briney flavour and the texturally pleasing pop from the roe more than anything else. It was simple but delicious, just the way that sushi should be.

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We had even more tuna in the form of a Tekka Don ($10.50). The rice, which didn’t taste too strongly of either sugar or vinegar, was topped with very fresh tuna sashimi. In fact, the rice almost tasted like simple, regular steamed white rice, with just a bit of vinegar seasoning. There isn’t much to say about this, except that the tuna was fresh and had just the right amount of fat, while the cucumber slices included were a nice touch.

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We were still hungry, so we added on two more items. The first was the Chicken Wing Karaage ($4.95). I swear, at least five other tables ordered this while we were eating, and every time it left the kitchen, I could smell the delicious, deep-fried goodness from a mile away. The couple seated beside us also added this to their order once they saw us devouring it, so there you go. It was definitely worth the anticipation, being very crispy, hot, and freshly fried. The bones were separated so that the wings were comparatively easy to eat, and the chicken meat itself was juicy and tender. They were also lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, almost reminding me of the Taiwanese salty peppery chicken nuggets that I love so much.

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And lastly, we had the Ika Tobi Kyu Roll ($3.75). I generally shy away from ordering squid at most restaurants, unless it’s calamari, as squid tends to be tough and difficult to chew. However, here, the squid was quite tender, with only a slight chewiness. The tobiko added that nice pop, and the cucumbers were fresh and crunchy. Still, I thought this was the weakest of the rolls we sampled, as there was simply too much rice. The rice was also a bit too warm, which distracted from the taste of the other ingredients.

Overall, though, we had a lovely time at Toshi Sushi. Other than the wait, our experience was flawless, from the delicious food to the friendly service. I mean, I hate waiting for food as much as anyone, but as the saying goes, all good things come to those who wait, right? The next time that I’m shopping at all those adorable boutiques on Main Street, Toshi will be high on my list of possible dinner locations.

Toshi Sushi
181 East 16th Avenue
Vancouver, BC

Toshi Sushi on Urbanspoon


Keg Steakhouse and Bar

Ah, Vancouver. How I missed your naturally sweet tap water, your cooling seaside breeze, and your obsession with recycling! How on earth did I survive without a Tim Hortons Ice Capp for two whole months? In any case, returning to Vancouver after two months in Europe was bliss for me, and resulted in gorging myself on my mother’s Korean home cooking, sushi, and other (mostly Asian) cuisines. Still, you can’t eat Asian food all the time. During my first week back in Vancouver, SB and I visited the downtown location of The Keg. Laugh at us if you will for visiting a chain restaurant, but I’ve yet to have a bad experience with The Keg!

Still, I’d never been to the downtown location before, although I’ve walked by it countless times. Directly across the street from Joe Fortes, The Keg offers a more frugal (although more limited) option for steak and seafood. Despite offering the same menu as other locations, the downtown location does feel and look swankier. We were seated promptly by our hostess and proceeded to order off the same old familiar menu.

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As always, we received our complimentary Bread first. It arrived promptly after we put in our order, which was nice. I hate just sitting around waiting for the bread to come. Anyways, it was sourdough, which I don’t prefer, but ah well. Served with whipped butter, it was quite warm and chewy, as bread should be. However, it felt a bit tough and hard on my throat–although that may have just been me being extra sensitive, as I had a bad cough the whole week.

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We wanted to share an appetizer, and the Mushrooms Neptune ($9.95) sounded like the most intriguing option available. They were simply wine simmered mushrooms caps topped with crab meat and cheese, served with some sourdough. We were disappointed by this, as the mushrooms caps were very small and therefore an afterthought in the dish. Instead of the mushrooms being stuffed with the other ingredients, it felt like the mushrooms were simply another ingredient in the dish, if that makes any sense. The taste of cheese was so strong that nothing else was really apparent, although the bread once again was warm and chewy. We didn’t think that this dish was anything special, and we probably wouldn’t order it again.

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Despite what you might think, I’m not much of a big eater, so I decided on the Grilled Top Sirloin (8 oz) ($22.95) with a twice baked potato. This was more than enough for me–I finished roughly half of it. As for the veggies, they were nothing special–I thought the asparagus should have been cooked longer, as it was too hard for me. I asked for the steak medium rare, and it arrived perfectly cooked, and it was both chewy and tender. I did find it a bit bland, though, and thought it could have benefitted from more freshly ground pepper. The potato contained bacon bits, which is always a plus, and the smooth, mashed potato-like texture was nicely broken up by intermittent chunky bacon bits.

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Now, I only finished about half of my steak, but SB managed to finish the rest of it for me, as well as his Prime Rib (16 oz) ($30.95), which arrived with horseradish, red wine herb au jus, onion strings, and the same twice baked potato. I’ve always had a soft spot for prime rib, and this one was quite tender and arrived medium rare, just the way we’d asked for it. The meat itself had a bit too much fat, but it wasn’t too much of a hassle to remove it. The onion strings were rather soggy–perhaps we waited too long to eat them? Anyways, the potato was again the same creamy, bacon-y goodness. I’m not a huge fan of bacon (blasphemous, I know), but there’s something about those salty tiny bacon bits inside a baked potato that is just so sinfully delicious.

I’ve always enjoyed The Keg for their solid eats. It’s a good option for special occasion family dinners (graduations, birthdays, and whatnot). I’ve always visited the Burnaby location with my family and had stellar, friendly service there, so I was surprised at the strange, awkward service we received here. Our waitress was friendly, but there were a couple of things I found odd about her behaviour. We were seated by a sort of low wall, and she would lean over this to talk to us Home Improvement-style, which I found patronizing. There was plenty of room on the other side of our table for her to stand without disturbing the other table of diners. I suppose that she was probably trained to behave this way, though, and I had the feeling she was relatively new at her job. It didn’t make my dining experience unenjoyable, but it was troubling, to say the least.

To be honest, I wasn’t that impressed by my experience at The Keg. In comparison to the stellar experiences I’ve had at the Burnaby location, my experience here was less than stellar, although I found the food satisfying and well worth the money. As with any location, though, the menu is less than imaginative, but it does what it’s designed for. Sometimes you just need a good old-fashioned steak, and for that, I’d highly recommend The Keg–maybe just not this location.

Keg Steakhouse and Bar
742 Thurlow Street
Vancouver, BC

Keg Steakhouse & Bar on Urbanspoon


Sushi Hiyori

When I mentioned to acquaintances that I’d be spending two months of my summer in Europe, many told me to indulge in sushi while I could. As I sit writing in my flat in Oxford, I wish that I’d considered their advice more seriously. Sushi restaurants here are nowhere near as plentiful or inexpensive as in Vancouver, and while I’ve been too afraid to try any myself, my classmates all agree that sushi in England is nothing like sushi back home. I’ve found in Vancouver that while popular spots like Sushi Garden are popular for a reason, the small neighbourhood joints are often quite good. This post is about an excursion I made to a relatively small sushi place in downtown Vancouver, with my favourite sushi connoisseur, SB.

I’ve found that while there are many Japanese restaurants downtown, a simple good old-fashioned sushi place is hard to find. Sure, there are many izakayas and ramen joints and Spaghetei, but sometimes I just feel a craving for a simple negitoro roll. Sushi Hiyori is a quick walk from the central shopping area of downtown Vancouver, and had exactly what we were looking for: all the basics plus some specialty rolls of their own.

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SB had his usual Salmon Don ($9.95). We thought that the plating of it, although not particularly practical, was somewhat cute in the chef’s thoughtfulness. As for the food itself, SB pronounced it acceptable, as the rice was sweet and vinegary but not overly so, while the sashimi seemed decently fresh. I personally thought that the salmon was sliced a bit irregularly, with some thick pieces and some very thin slices, but overall, it was fine considering the venue and price.

DSC_0006We also decided to try one of their specialty rolls, the Las Vegas Roll ($8.99), which was described as a California roll topped with spicy tuna sashimi, prawn tempura, and sweet and spicy sauce. It wasn’t exactly neatly presented–SB observed that it was like a California roll wearing a hat, and was difficult to eat due to its height. The tempura appeared to have been freshly fried, being warm and crispy, but there was too much batter to really taste the prawn inside. With the avocado, imitation crab, and spicy tuna, the roll had an overall mushy texture, and the rice was rather gummy in places. I’m generally not fond of specialty rolls and their often high price tag, so this didn’t especially stand out for me. I would take a simple maki over a fancy roll any day.

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And, of course, we had to have that simple maki in the form of our favourite, the Negitoro Roll ($2.45). Although this wasn’t the best version we’ve had, it was still acceptable. The seaweed was a tad soggy and therefore difficult to chew, but the toro was smooth and creamy, and the green onions were satisfyingly crunchy. The toro also had a sufficient level of fishiness, while the rice, again, wasn’t overly sweetened or doused in vinegar, which I liked.

Our meal at Sushi Hiyori wasn’t spectacular, but it was definitely acceptable. We were especially pleased with the service, which was very friendly, plus our tea and water were both refilled many times without us having to ask. Based on my experience, I wouldn’t recommend trying their specialty rolls, which are mostly variations on the California roll or the dynamite roll, both of which aren’t my favourite rolls anyways. Other than that, Sushi Hiyori is a viable option if you’re in the neighbourhood, and clearly a neighbourhood favourite: although there weren’t too many seated customers during our visit, there were many customers coming in and out to pick up their take-out. This place isn’t gourmet by any means, but hey, who wants to eat gourmet all the time?

Sushi Hiyori
1348 Hornby Street
Vancouver, BC

Sushi Hiyori on Urbanspoon


Guu Garlic

Funnily enough, the last day SB and I saw each other before my Europe trip happened to coincide with Canada Day. Despite my aversion to crowds, we decided to head downtown to enjoy some of the festivities. Sure enough, there were crowds upon crowds of people, and the day was swelteringly hot. We decided to go see a movie to escape the sun, and by the time we ventured back out into the world, it had cooled down considerably. Since it was my last time dining in Vancouver for a while, we decided to munch on my favourite cuisine: Japanese–izakayas, to be more specific, and Guu Garlic to be even more specific.

I’d been to Guu Garlic several times, but never blogged about the experience before. Guu Garlic is right beside Santouka, which even on this blisteringly hot day had a line out the door and down the street. In comparison, our restaurant of choice was not incredibly busy, and although they had no air conditioning, it was still mildly cool inside. The restaurant itself is divided into an area with a bar and tables, and a sort of upper level where you sit on cushions on the floor. I’ve sat on those cushions before, and it was very uncomfortable, so we opted to sit at the bar, which was nice because we got to observe the chefs at work.

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For our first dish, SB chose the Grilled Squid ($7.80). I generally avoid ordering squid at restaurants (other than calamari), because it tends to be too tough. However, the squid here was very tender while still retaining chewiness and a tad of rubberiness. It was also not too oily and was firm on the outside, but soft on the inside. I also liked that it was sliced into nice, bite-size portions for us, and served with garlic mayo on the side. The mayo was flavourful and provided a slightly spicy and rich aftertaste, which was lovely. We were both pleasantly surprised by this deceptively simple dish.

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Next, we found the Salt, Pepper, and Sesame Oil Marinated Tuna Sashimi ($6.80) on the daily specials sheet. Here, we could clearly taste the salt, pepper, and sesame oil present in the dish. The sashimi was served alongside some veggies, garlic chips, and onions, which both soaked up the sesame oil and ended up being nice and flavourful. The fish itself tasted quite fresh and was a little chewy, but also soft, with an almost toro-like texture. We were quite happy with that since we’re huge fans of toro.

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And to deviate from the seafood theme, we also had the Beef Tenderloin Steak Rice Bowl ($9.80). This was so incredibly satisfying. The beef was cooked medium rare and was nicely tender, while oozing with red juices. Meanwhile, the bowl was hot enough that the rice formed a nice crust, and the garlic chips added a nice punch of flavour. There was also some soy sauce included that kept the mixture from getting too bland, and the egg added moisture without making the mixture too wet. I found that the ingredients really balanced each other out, making for quite a yummy meal.

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Being who he is, SB was still hungry after all this, so we also shared the Assorted Sashimi ($16) off of the specials sheet. For that price point, we were expecting nothing but the best. What we got was very fresh scallop and salmon sashimi, along with some tuna tataki. First off, the scallops tasted a bit too fishy, but were very smooth and buttery. Personally, scallops are my favourite type of seafood (when cooked), but I enjoyed the tataki the most here. It had formed a nice crust that added a bit of flavour, while the inner layer of sashimi was smooth and naturally sweet. Similarly, the salmon retained its natural sweetness and texture. Overall, all of the sashimi was quite satisfying.

And that’s the word I would use to describe our dinner here: satisfying. All of the dishes were well-prepared and tasty. I think I’m probably a bit biased because izakayas are my favourite places to eat, but then again, I’ve often had not-so-great experiences with the Guu franchise, especially the Thurlow location. Based on this experience, though, I would highly recommend stopping by Guu Garlic for a bite to eat!

Guu Garlic
1698 Robson Street
Vancouver, BC

Guu Garlic on Urbanspoon