The end of the skating season means many things—on the more depressing side of the spectrum, it means that I no longer have work (and a source of income), but on the happier end of things, it means that my feet no longer need to be squished into a pair of tight skates, and it also means that my Tuesdays and Thursdays, which were devoted to work before, are now completely free!
I immediately jumped at the first chance to hang out with Darek and Cynthia on the first Thursday I had off from work, and since we haven’t had brunch in a while, we decided to hit up Paul’s Place Omelettery. So it was, on that beautiful, sunny Thursday, we hopped into Darek’s car and made the trek down to South Granville for some delicious eggy goodness.
We were seated immediately by our friendly waitress, but for some reason we didn’t get menus or water til some time later. It didn’t matter too much for us though, since the restaurant was pretty busy at the time. When a waiter came over, we ordered drinks: a cup of Coffee ($2.25) each for Cynthia and Darek (who seems to have issues functioning without a mugful), and a pot of Earl Grey Tea ($2.25) for me. The coffee was decent, as was the tea (by Mighty Leaf, so really, what could go wrong?), and I certainly spent a fair amount of time admiring my chipped, but beautiful teapot adorned with a cilantro leaf.
Without hesitation, Darek ordered the Corned Beef Hash ($9.95), which seems to have been his go-to the last few times I’ve had breakfast with him. This version included sautéed potatoes, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, bacon and corned beef, topped with two poached eggs, cheddar and edam cheese. The presentation was great, but Darek found that his dish was under seasoned (a comment I’ll make about the potatoes in my dish too), and so he added quite a bit of hot sauce and pepper to spice it up. The eggs, though, were poached perfectly, and the dish wasn’t too greasy overall.
Cynthia, after much debate (they all sounded so good!) settled on the Da Vinci Omelette ($9.95), which was made with three free-run eggs, and filled with chorizo, mushrooms, tomato, spinach and feta cheese, and accompanied by multigrain toast, with jam and butter on the side. This was a pretty sizable portion, and there were plenty of ingredients hidden within the omelette. We loved the chorizo as it added a bit of spice to the otherwise vegetarian omelette; however, I felt that the egg could have been fluffier, as it felt a little thin in certain parts.
And for myself, I had originally wanted an omelette, but changed gears and ordered an eggs benedict instead. The Florentine (Small (1 half of a muffin)- $7.50; Large (both halves of a muffin)- $9.50) sounded delicious omelette style, so I figured that it couldn’t be bad atop an English muffin– and I was right! There was a plethora of ingredients underneath my amazingly runny poached eggs: spinach leaves (not terribly wilted, which I would have hated) and mushrooms (button and shitake, from what I could tell) sautéed with garlic butter and onions, and a few crumbles of feta cheese. This was all topped off with their house cheese sauce, as opposed to Hollandaise– I was a little skeptical at first since I love my hollandaise–but it worked out quite nicely, since it wasn’t overwhelmingly cheesy. The English muffin was also toasted nicely so that even towards the end of my meal, the muffin was still a little crisp on the edges. The Benny also came with a side of pan fries, but I found them to be rather plain: as a rule, I don’t add salt to my food, but in this case I needed to because they were so bland. Some seasoning on their end would have made this a stellar plate.
Lastly, we decided to share a plate of Cinnamon French Toast ($5.75 plain, $8.95 with fresh fruit, berry compote and whipped cream) since it sounded delicious. However, we weren’t too impressed with this, as the toast wasn’t as fluffy or eggy as we expected, thereby rendering the slices quite dry. The portion size was pretty good though (6 slices for about $6), and if I had only ordered this to eat I would have been extremely full. The berry compote was well-balanced, being both tart and sweet, and I wish there could have been more of it; as well, the whipped cream tasted fresh and well, creamy. The side fruit wasn’t anything special, just the usual cantaloupe, honeydew, grapes and oranges you’d expect. I don’t think I would order this again if I were to come here in the future.
We had a nice time at Paul’s Omelettery catching up, and the food, with the exception of the french toast, was very well prepared– there’s no denying that they know how to make eggs right. After the initial hiccup in service, our server (a man, perhaps Paul himself?) made sure to check up on us once in a while, and our coffees and waters were never sitting empty for long. It’s obvious that Paul’s Omelettery is a local favourite as well as a tourist spot (there was a family from the States sitting next to us), as there was a huge line around the time we were finishing up (mind you, we went on a weekday, so I can’t imagine what it would be like for Saturday or Sunday brunch), and I think I would go there again– maybe make a day of it, and spend my afternoon shopping on South Granville.
Paul’s Place Omelettery
2211 Granville St
Whenever someone gives me a restaurant recommendation, I add it to an ever-growing list I keep on my phone. However, because of my school schedule, work schedule, and various other commitments, I don’t have enough time to eat out as often as I’d like. For the past year or so, the list has been growing and growing, and I’ve made very little progress in crossing restaurants off it. One of the restaurants that I’ve meant to visit for a long time is Peaceful, one of many noodle joints on Broadway and Cambie. I finally got to try some of their famous noodles on a recent trip with SB.
This is a small, crowded, narrow, bustling restaurant. We arrived quite early for dinnertime (sometime around 5:30), and so were seated immediately, but by the time we left, the place was completely full and many diners were waiting for a table. Although the seating bordered on being uncomfortable, it just spoke to how the popular the place is.
I took a while perusing the menu, and ended up ordering the Sizzled Hot Chili Noodles ($7.95). You can order the noodles to be hand-pulled or knife-shaved, and I opted for the former. The noodles were drizzled with hot chili garlic oil, and served with bok choy. When this first arrived, I was taken aback by the copious amount of chili seeds, but it was surprisingly not too spicy. It tasted more sour to me than anything else, which I’d expected, considering my previous experiences with Mandarin cuisine. The noodles were decently chewy and had good bite. I found that there was a tad too much oil for my tastes, but other than that, the dish worked and was quite enjoyable.
Meanwhile, SB ordered the Shanghai Pork Chop Soup Noodles ($7.95). There’s nothing too complicated about this dish, which is simply crispy fried pork chop and spinach in a savoury broth. For this bowl, we had the knife-shaved noodles, and they were satisfyingly chewy. As you might expect, you could really feel the texture with each noodle, which was great. The pork chop, meanwhile, was a little crispy and a tad dry, but fine when eaten with the savoury soup. This was a great bowl of noodles, especially for the price. I would classify this as comfort food, and definitely something I’d look for on a rainy day.
And, finally, we shared the star dish of the night, the Peaceful Beef Rolls ($7.95), which had five-spice beef, green onions, and sweet hoisin sauce rolled in a crispy flatbread. To put it mildly, I loved this. It was crispy without being too oily, and had the perfect amount of hoisin sauce. The green onions were more there to provide a textural contrast than flavour. I’ve had several versions of this dish, and I loved how this particular version seemed more like a pastry shell in a sense, being very flaky but also fluffy on the inside. The four pieces were quite substantial in size, and I felt quite full after having two pieces in addition to my bowl of noodles. Guy Fieri raved about this dish in an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, and it definitely lived up to the hype.
There are a great number of noodle places in this particular intersection, ranging from ramen shops to pho, but there’s a reason why Peaceful is so ridiculously popular. I would go back anytime to try more of their noodles and, of course, for the beef roll. If you’re looking to eat in a place with great ambiance, this obviously isn’t what you’re looking for, but it’s quite family-friendly and a good place to grab a quick bites with friends. The service is quite minimal, and the servers were always busy, but they were about as friendly as I expected them to be. Overall, Peaceful lived up to the hype!
532 West Broadway
Apparently it was my turn to choose the restaurant this time, since the last time I dined with Eric and Gawa, Gawa chose Golden Pair for our lunch together. Usually I like to try somewhere new, but I decided to lunch at Suika, which I’d visited several times already. It was at a relatively convenient location, had plenty of pescetarian options for Gawa, and of course, I love izakaya food. I was unaware they had a separate lunch menu, but as it consisted more of individual meals rather than tapas, this worked out fine.
Gawa is probably the most supportive friend I have–well, for the blog, anyways. She insisted on ordering an appetizer so I’d have more to talk about, and this appetizer was the Tako Wasabi. The three of us had never tried this dish before, and didn’t really know what to expect. I personally didn’t enjoy this very much. The wasabi flavour was very strong, although the mild, unsalted seaweed helped to tone it down. The tako itself was not too fishy, and nicely chewy, but I personally couldn’t eat very much of it. I suppose it’s all dependent on preference, though.
As part of our lunch, we were also presented with a complimentary Salad, which was dressed with some kind of sesame oil dressing. At first the three of us were confused, as the waitress dropped it off with not much comment, but it appears that they provide all their customers with complimentary salad at lunch time. Yay! The lettuce was very fresh, and had a natural sweetness. The dressing was a very typical one found at many Japanese restaurants, but we enjoyed it nevertheless.
Onwards to the entrees…I ordered the Ebi Chili Bowl, which is one of their set meals. The set meals are accompanied by a bowl of miso soup and some kimchi. We all enjoyed the miso soup, which had a great depth of flavour–obviously it included some fish broth rather than just water. Besides the usual scallions and tofu, the miso soup also contained lotus roots, and had quite a strong miso flavour. The kimchi was quite odd and didn’t taste anything like regular kimchi, and was a resounding no for me. But anyways, onto the prawns…they were a good size, and were covered in a sweet and spicy sauce that was an adequate balance of the two flavours. I would have liked more lettuce however, and could have done with less or even no tartar sauce, as I got sick of it quite quickly. Still, this was a solid meal, and I wouldn’t mind ordering it again.
For her main course, Gawa opted for the Negitoro Bowl, which included some pickled daikon in the rice, providing some needed crunch. While she enjoyed her lunch on a whole, Gawa commented that she would have enjoyed some sauce, possibly some soy sauce, which wasn’t provided for us at the table. She also thought that the toro itself was a little too fatty, although that’s probably just personal preference. Still, I thought her bowl was a great mix of ingredients, as opposed to simply being the toro and rice.
Eric chose the Seafood Bowl, which was accompanied by the same kimchi and miso soup as above. Like Gawa’s, his bowl contained a large number of ingredients, including shrimp, mountain yam, salmon, scallops, and another type of sashimi that we were unable to identify. There were also small pieces of eel and crab meat mixed in with the rice. Eric was satisfied with his variety of ingredients, but he also commented that he would have appreciated some tea to go along with his lunch–now that I think about it, I found it odd that we weren’t offered complimentary tea. Still, his lunch looked fresh and satisfyingly fishy, in a good way.
So, that’s the end of our lunch at Suika. I was pleasantly surprised by their lunch menu, which has a good variety of dishes in addition to the ones we sampled, and is perhaps a little more affordable than their dinner menu. The service was friendly and efficient, and I found our lunches to be creative, satisfying, and delicious. Suika is definitely one of my favourite restaurants in Vancouver, as it offers a somewhat more polished venue for izakaya fare than, say, Guu Original, and the restaurant itself is easily accessible by public transit. If you’re in the mood for izakaya food but not in the mood to travel downtown, Suika is definitely a safe bet.
1626 West Broadway
Despite my admitted non-adventurous attitude towards restaurants, (I usually like to search out a restaurant on Urbanspoon and read some blogger reviews before I go) I easily agreed when my friend Gawa suggested we have lunch at a restaurant I’d never heard of. In fact, she didn’t even know the name…she said vaguely that it was a noodle place on Broadway and Cambie. This could possibly have been helpful, except that this intersection is crowded with restaurants (including Sam’s and my especial favourite, La Taqueria), with many of them specializing in noodles, including Benkei Ramen, Menya, and Sha Lin Noodle House. Well, much like Dolph, I’ll never say no to noodles, so Gawa, Eric, and I met up at Broadway and Cambie on a nice sunny day after finals.
Turns out she didn’t know the name because she hasn’t been here in years! Ah well. After a few minutes of searching, she led us into a small but relatively busy restaurant. This is one of those joints where you choose your own broth, type of noodle, and two toppings, through the use of the order sheet pictured. For the sake of variety, we all chose different broths and toppings and noodles. It was obvious that Gawa hadn’t visited this place in a long time. I realized this when she asked the server whether we would be receiving complementary tea, and the server seemed confused, then replied that the complementary tea component had been removed a long time ago. Oh, Gawa. In a city where prices are constantly increasing and I’m always worrying over the state of my wallet, a fixed price of $7.95 (well, plus tax and tip) seemed quite reasonable, especially since the portion size was respectable.
Gawa chose the Fish Broth with Ramen, Fish Balls, and Shrimp. Out of all of our broths, I liked hers the best–it was both sweet and savoury, and had a distinct fish taste. She thought the noodles were chewy, and had good bite, and that the shrimp were an impressive size (especially considering the price!), although I would personally have preferred more shrimp. In addition to the above ingredients, her bowl of noodles also included a decent amount of cabbage, as well as tofu skin. Gawa enjoyed her meal, and didn’t have any complaints.
Eric had the Malay Laksa Broth with Beijing Ramen, Chicken Balls, and Brisket. He let me sample a little of the broth, and it tasted quite peppery to me, but surprisingly okay on my authenticity radar (not that I’m an expert by any means). There was nothing amiss in his bowl, except he didn’t think much of his noodles–I’m not exactly sure on the difference between Beijing ramen and just regular ramen (I even googled it but didn’t get any satisfying answers). Like Gawa, Eric’s noodles contained an adequate amount of cabbage and tofu skin, and the ingredients were well-prepared. If he had a complaint, it would be that he found it perhaps a little too spicy, but he still enjoyed his noodles. I’m sure this would be too spicy for some, but at least they provide a warning on the order sheet so you can avoid it if you need to.
For my noodles, I chose to have Chicken Broth with Udon, Enoki Mushrooms, and Cuttlefish Balls. The mushrooms were a bit difficult to eat (but that isn’t the restaurant’s fault). I found the broth a bit salty, but nothing I couldn’t bear. I regretted my choice of the chicken broth, as it was bland and tasted like something you could easily make from a Campbell’s soup can. Surprisingly, the noodles had good bite and were acceptably chewy–I usually find a lot of places overcook udon noodles, but I was pleasantly surprised here. Now…the problem with my meal. There was a massive amount of cabbage in my bowl, and only my bowl. While Gawa and Eric’s noodles contained, at most, maybe five pieces of cabbage, mine contained a huge mountain of cabbage that remained even after I ate about seven pieces. I’m pretty sure they dumped all the cabbage into my portion, and I’m not sure exactly why. Anyways, it was an unpleasant experience–not that I don’t like cabbage, but there’s only so much one person can take, right? Other than that, though, I thought the ingredients I’d requested were well-prepared, and quite tasty.
The service here was nothing remarkably bad or remarkably good. It was a stereotypical Asian restaurant with a stereotypical Asian server. She did her job, but didn’t offer to fill our water or tea except when asked, and her customer service skills existed somewhere murky between hostile and friendly. It didn’t really affect my experience here, as I hadn’t been expecting great service from the beginning.
The food here is definitely solid, minus the strangely profuse amount of cabbage I found lurking underneath that innocent pile of mushrooms…and I would probably want to return to try different combinations of toppings and broths. Turns out this little adventure paid off! Maybe after this I’ll stop reading online reviews before deciding whether or not to visit a restaurant…but I wouldn’t bet on it.
Golden Pair Fusion Cafe 皇牌魚湯米線
546 West Broadway
I probably wouldn’t have gone to La Taqueria if Dolph hadn’t taken me and Pickles (née Yvonne, who was unfortunately bitten by a radioactive pickle) there last December—I rarely take the dreaded 99 to or from school—but nowadays I find myself hopping on the B-Line to grab a quick bite every once in a while.
This time, Dolph and I (minus our brine-y friend) made our way to La Taqueria on Cambie off Broadway after browsing through the Book Warehouse, which closed down last month. The place was bustling with the after-work crowd, but we managed to find a table to sit at while we pondered on the menu. We ended up ordering 4 tacos each, which came to $11 per person.
Dolph got the Daily Special (bottom taco), which had potatoes, cilantro and sour cream atop two corn tortillas. She commented that this was neither spectacular nor surprising—the potatoes tasted as they should, with a consistency closer to mashed potatoes than individual potato chunks. To the right is the Tinga de Pollo: chicken with chorizo in chipotle tomato sauce, then topped with cheese and sour cream. Dolph thought that this taco was only alright—it wasn’t as “exotic” as some of the other ones you could get, and the sour cream was put on a little too heavily for her taste.
Moving onto my plate, I had the De Lengua (top taco, with a few pieces of pickled red onion I added on myself), a beef tongue taco served with salsa verde, onions and cilantro. I usually love beef tongue—if prepared right, the texture and taste can be really enjoyable. La Taqueria did a great job, as it was juicy without being too wet and soft without being mushy. To the right is the De Cachete, which is a braised beef cheek taco that is also topped with cilantro and onions. While there was a ton of beef on the taco, I thought that it was slightly too greasy and wet this time around.
She and I both ordered the Carnitas, a pork confit and pickled red onion taco (on my plate it is the one next to the De Lengua). This is one of our favourite tacos to order—the barbequey flavour of the pork, combined with the white onions, cilantro and picked red onions makes for a very impactful treat. It’s also a nice change from the beef tacos, which tend to be on the mushier side; the Carnitas has a more interesting texture that comes from the pulled pork. I tend to load mine up with extra red onions, as you can see in the picture below. They usually all fall out when I take a bite out of the taco, but whatever, I like them so much I end up eating them all anyways. Our other mutual favourite is the Pescado (bottom taco), better known as the fish taco. The flakey cod filet (the fish is different depending on the season) was topped with cabbage mix and pico de gallo (onions, tomatoes and jalapenos), and was incredibly juicy. This, too, we order because we like the different texture of the fish. It’s also very refreshing because of the citrusy sauce, and it’s a good way to end the meal.
In terms of service, the staff at La Taqueria are very personable and friendly, and seem to have a great relationship with their customers. Despite my not being a regular customer (I go once in a while, but always on different days of the week), a few of the waiters already know me by name, and know my regular order. The restaurant is very bright (both in colour and lighting) and clean, and they also provide a self-serve salsa stand with four kinds of salsa, jalapenos and pickled red onions and free water. All this, coupled with their great attitude, makes for a great experience, whether you’re with friends or eating alone.
2549 Cambie Street
Lately I’ve been getting home a bit later and haven’t had time to enjoy my mom’s cooking as much as before. Also, I’ve been eating out quite a bit–so much for February, month of midterms, huh? Already weathered 2 midterms, got one more and a term paper due the week after Reading Break! (What kind of term paper is due in February, right?) Anyways, I digress–on to the real post.
If you live in Vancouver, you’re probably familiar with Banana Leaf, a chain restaurant specializing in Malaysian food. I’m not sure how authentic Banana Leaf is, but to be honest, I have trouble recognizing authenticity in any type of ethnic restaurant (well, except Korean, I guess). All that really matters to me is how the food tastes! I’m not a picky eater (well…kind of.)
This random trip to Banana Leaf (the Fairview location) happened on a Wednesday night. One of my friends is moving back to Korea soon and organized a somewhat impromptu goodbye dinner. We ordered five dishes to share, plus a dessert, for five people.
Our first dish was the Mango Salad. If you know me in real life at all, you’ll know I’m not a huge veggie or salad or even mango person… but this wasn’t too bad, although it was a smaller portion than I would have liked. The salad consisted of julienned mangoes, carrots, cucumbers, and also red onions, fried onions, and peanuts, doused in a house vinaigrette. I think it worked texturally with the smoothness of the mangoes contrasting with the crunchiness of the onions. It was a nice and refreshing start to the meal, although I’m not so sold on the peanuts… Banana Leaf provides complementary peanuts at the start of the meal, so I guess I was peanut-ed out by the time the salad came. But all in all, the ingredients complimented each other and tasted fresh!
The next dish was the Curry Boneless Chicken. This arrived with a bowl of rice, which you can see in the picture of the prawns below. Flavour-wise, the curry was not too spicy or strong, but quite mild and creamy. Personally I like my curries a bit spicier. There were bite-size pieces of boneless chicken in a coconut cream sauce, accompanied by green beans, okra, and red peppers. I found the chicken a tad dry, and the curry itself not too memorable.
Next, the Sambal Chili Prawns. These were tiger prawns in a spicy sauce with chunks of tomato and red peppers. (And you can see the rice that arrived with the curry in the background!) Maybe I’m just stupid but I failed to tell the tomatoes and peppers apart and just bit into the pepper. Oh well. Anyways, the sauce was both spicy and a little bit sweet, but not going too far in either direction. Enjoyable, but not all too unique, I would say.
PINEAPPLE FRIED RICE! Once again, if you know me at all, you’ll know I absolutely love fried rice. It’s pretty much the only thing my mom doesn’t make well–well, she does make a good fried rice, but she uses Korean rice, which is sticky and doesn’t have the same texture. This particular version included chunks of fresh pineapple, seafood (I saw baby scallops, don’t know what else), raisins, chicken, and egg, among others. Compared to the version I had at Tropika a while back, I’d say I prefer this one–maybe just because I love scallops so much. The rice was cooked perfectly while not being mushy, and the variety of ingredients created an interesting mixture. The only concern I have when I eat this dish is whether or not they reuse the pineapple shell…
Singapore Laksa: Rice noodles in a coconut soup base, with egg, shrimp, bean sprouts, fish cakes, and squid, among other ingredients. Similar to the chicken curry above, there was no real strong flavours. The broth was simply creamy and a little rich, but we all enjoyed this very much. We ended up drinking the broth on its own once the noodles were all gone. The noodles were al dente, and I really enjoyed the crunchiness and snap from the bean sprouts along with the smoothness of the noodles. Would probably say this was one of my favourite dishes of the night!
Usually when I go out for dinner, I tend to skip dessert at the restaurant. If I’m in the mood for something sweet, I’ll stop by a McDonald’s and grab a strawberry sundae. For some reason, the five of us decided to share one dessert: a fried banana with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, peanuts, topped with a maraschino cherry. Banana Leaf’s website refers to it as Pisang Goreng. I’m a sucker for anything fried (you’re probably noticing a theme here…I’m hugely unhealthy in my eating habits). The crispy exterior of the batter was well complimented by the warm banana inside, as well as the cold ice cream. Also the banana itself wasn’t too soggy, which is always a plus!
All in all I’d say the dinner at Banana Leaf was pleasant and I’d want to return to try some more of the dishes–although I was getting kind of tired of the peanuts after a while. Thanks for reading, happy midterms!
820 W Broadway