Gaya Sushi

It was time to choose a restaurant to go to after work again, and I was craving sushi… but couldn’t decide on a place to go to. I know, there are a ton of sushi joints we could go to in North Burnaby, but I was tired and famished, and really didn’t feel like making my way to Sushi Garden just to wait forever and a day for a table. A friend of mine recently recommended Gaya Sushi, a small restaurant that opened up in the past year at a strip mall on Bainbridge and Lougheed, so Samson and I, along with my parents, decided to give it a try.

Gaya was pretty busy too, but we managed to get seated right away. The restaurant is bright and spacious but on the smaller side (compared to Sushi Garden, at least), and I immediately appreciated that it was quieter– I’m not a fan of the hustle and bustle that characterizes the other places we go to.

Tuna TatakiMy friend Rosy had insisted we get the Tuna Tataki ($6.95) to start, and I was really glad that we did. The fish was sliced at a perfect thickness, seared lightly along the sides, and tasted very fresh. Presented in a ring topped with garlic chips (my new favourite topping), and with shaved daikon, white onion, yellow and red peppers in the centre with a pool of ponzu sauce, this dish was both visually and texturally appetizing. I’ve really been into tuna tataki lately (ever since my lunch at Guu Garden), and I’m happy to say that this suburban restaurant offered up something comparable. I’ve been to Gaya Sushi twice since this visit, and I’ve ordered it every time.

Miso SoupTobiko and Ikura SushiNow, I’m a bit of a soup nut (I could seriously live on soup and bread for weeks), and besides, I needed to be warmed up after skating for 4 hours. So, I ordered the Miso Soup ($1.25) as another appetizer. I actually really like miso soups, despite their commonality and saltiness, but this way you can actually tell how it compares to other restaurants. This one did the job, and had plenty of ingredients– green onion, seaweed and tofu– to make it a substantial starter. I liked that the green onion wasn’t wilted (they must have put it in right before serving?), as I do enjoy the crunch. Also as part of our appetizers, we ordered 3 pieces of nigiri sushi (My dad didn’t want one): 2 pieces of Tobiko Sushi ($1.35) and 1 piece of Ikura Sushi ($1.80). These were pretty typical, and the different kinds of roe all tasted fresh. My personal favourite is the Tobiko, as the little eggs have more texture and ‘pop’ than masago roe does, but it doesn’t squirt out quite as much salty juice as the Ikura roe does.

RollsWe ordered 3 rolls to share as well: from the left, we had the Chopped Scallop Roll ($3.99), the Hot Night Roll ($5.99), and the Spider Roll ($6.99). The Chopped Scallop look pretty typical, with small pieces of scallop mixed together with masago in a light mayo sauce and accompanied by cucumbers, but I thought that it tasted a little fishier than what I was used to. I did, however, like that the filling wasn’t a weird orange colour. The Hot Night Roll is one of their specialty rolls, and is basically a Dynamite Roll topped with spicy tuna sashimi and some crispy noodle bits. The tempura shrimp was fried up nicely (not too oily), and the spicy tuna was just spicy enough. I liked the crispy noodles on top, which added some more texture to the roll, but found that it got messy quickly, especially since I severely lack in chopstick skills. The Spider Roll again exhibited a nicely deep-fried filling in the soft-shell crab, which was surprisingly meaty. Overall, the rice was cooked just right, and I thought that the rolls were nicely executed, if not a smidge on the expensive side.

Chirashi DonFor something more filling than just sushi rolls, we also ordered a Chirashi Don ($10.50) and a Tempura Udon ($6.95). This Chirashi Don was certainly one of the best I’ve had in a long time, and is definitely the best deal out of ones I’ve had. At $10.50, we weren’t expecting that big of a portion or that many different kinds of fish, but as you can see, the bowl this came in was gigantic. There was a lot of rice underneath the fish, which was drizzled lightly with sesame oil, but the real star of the dish was the sashimi. On it were several pieces each of red snapper, salmon, tuna, toro (fatty tuna), hokkigai (surf clam), tamago (which is egg, not raw fish) and hamachi. The fish was all very fresh and cut nicely with a beautiful sheen, and we really appreciated the assortment and amount that was served. Tempura UdonThe Tempura Udon, which was our final dish of the night, was a solid dish, but I wouldn’t necessarily get it again. The noodles were fairly al dente, and the soup was nicely flavoured and wasn’t too salty. Served with the noodles was a piece of fish cake, some Inari, and a variety of vegetables. On the side was a basket of assorted tempura, and like the shrimp tempura in the dynamite roll, these pieces, which included shrimp, yam, carrot and zucchini, were also fried up adequately.

Like I said above, I’ve been to Gaya Sushi a few times since, and I’ve had great service and food every time (and I wasn’t carrying a hefty camera for many of those visits either). The waiters are very kind and polite, which is a nice change from the borderline rude service you receive at some other sushi restaurants, and came over to refill our drinks without us asking them to. Price-wise, I find that they’re pretty average– some items are a little more expensive in comparison, while some others are a great deal. Being on Lougheed Highway, the restaurant isn’t too inaccessible, but it is a good walk up from Sperling Station (there is always the 134, but that only runs every half hour). I would urge you to make it out to this little strip mall sometime soon to try Gaya Sushi out! You definitely won’t regret it.

Gaya Sushi
2900 Bainbridge Ave
Burnaby, BC

Gaya Sushi on Urbanspoon


Cotto Enoteca Pizzeria

Of the many thoughts running through my head when I drive down Hastings Street, two are relevant to this post: first, “Oh hey, what happened to Anducci’s?”, and second, “I’m really craving some pizza”. Well, it turns out the Anducci’s on Hastings and Fell has closed its doors, and a new, rather upscale looking pizza joint has replaced it– Cotto Pizzeria.

Samson and I decided to make a visit there after work one day, since it’s so close to the skating rink. We parked on one of the side streets before realizing that the lot landmarked by the run-down ex-Subway building was actually a parking lot for the pizzeria. Oh well, it wasn’t raining (yet). We were greeted by a few hostesses at the front of the glitzy, busy restaurant, who sat us at a table near the bar (which boasted a pretty large wine collection).

We started our night with two glasses of wine from their Freshtap system– for Samson, a glass of Blasted Church Big Bang ($7.50), a red wine blend from BC, and for myself, a glass of Casa Bianco ($5), a pinot bianco-trebbiano blend from Italy. We thought that the pricing was pretty reasonable, and for me especially. It was a good way to try some wines, since it’s not like we were going to a winery anytime soon. Samson felt that his glass was lightly spicy, but didn’t have a very full body, which he didn’t mind, but he probably wouldn’t order it again. As for me… well I’m no wine connoisseur, so all I can say was that the wine was crisp and pleasant to sip at, with a bit of a citrus note. I don’t know if I’d order it again, however, since there are so many wines one can try… this one didn’t really stand out from the others that I’ve had.

I have to say, the Bread our extremely attentive waitress brought over was some of the best I’ve had, even though it wasn’t served warm. The outside was just crusty enough to emit a nice crunch when you bite into it, but didn’t explode into a pile of crumbs on the table; nor did it hurt the top of my mouth. The inside was chewy and pillowy soft at the same time, and it went pretty well with the dip they gave us (I think it was some sort of hummus with truffle oil). On the side of each table are bottles of olive oil, one infused with rosemary and garlic, and the other… well, we’re not too sure about the other one, because it just tasted oily. I’m guessing it’s supposed to be some kind of pepper, since it’s red. We obviously liked the rosemary/garlic one more, and I definitely enjoyed dipping my bread into it (the only problem is that the bottles are a bit leaky).

Good bread is often a sign of good things to come, and that it did, in the Fior di Latte ($8), which comes with your choice of ingredients–we chose Prosciutto San Danielle and Roma Tomatoes, but there’s also the choice of Roasted Crema di Balsamico and Eggplant Caponata, Cauliflower and Salsa Verde (I know about half the words in those two ingredient descriptions). We were expecting the portion size to be bigger since it cost $8, but the ingredients and presentation were superb, so I guess it justifies it a little. The fior di latte was very, very light, and was salted just a tiny bit for added flavour; it paired well with the fatty prosciutto, whereas the balsamic roma tomatoes helped offset the fattiness. I would want to order this again since it tasted so great, but the price is holding me back a little.

We also shared a half order of their Canneloni Spinaci ($12 half, $22 full) which was a little different than what I expected. Instead of the thicker, denser noodle I usually imagine as the wrapper, this was a thinner, eggier noodle, reminiscent in ways of a crepe. The ingredients in the middle (spinach, ricotta and marscapone cheese) were pretty standard, if not a wee bit on the bland side (but I like blander tasting things). I’m a little conflicted about my opinion of this dish– while I did enjoy the lighter noodle, which didn’t make me feel extremely bloated, I did wish that there was a little more substance to it, as I was hoping for more. Perhaps their regular-sized portion is a little more filling?

And to the main reason of our visit– the pizza! The restaurant boasts a lovely looking woodfire oven at the front of the restaurant, so OF COURSE you can’t pass up the chance to eat food made from it (and it is a pizza place after all). There were quite a few pizzas to choose from, and we narrowed it down between the Pizza Funghi and the Pizza Cotto (both $15), which included Yukon Gold potatoes, Sloping Hill pancetta, fried Brussel sprout leaves, gorgonzola dolce and fonduta (not sure what that last one is). Judging from the picture and the bolded font, I’m sure you could guess that the Pizza Funghi won. The toppings on the pizza we chose included a variety of roasted mushrooms (button, crimini and shitake among others), caramelized onions, goat cheese and chives, which rested on a nicely leoparded crust. I don’t believe I’ve had Neapolitan-style pizza before, but based on other food blogs’ reviews of such dining establishments, I think this one holds up. The crust was thin where there were toppings, but not too thick on the edge, and the ingredients didn’t make the pizza dough soggy or too limp. The mushrooms added a spongey texture (in a good way) to the dish. For the price, I’d say this is a pretty good deal– the pizza is cut into 8 large slices, and I was pretty full by the time I was finishing up the last piece (granted, I did have some pasta and bread).

We had originally wanted a “cheap” meal, so I have no idea why we ended up ordering dessert as well– maybe because I simply couldn’t pass up the delicious sounding combination of Panna Cotta ($8) and lemon curd. The panna cotta was full of vanilla flavour, and the lemon curd was appropriately tart but sweet. The addition of meringue reminded me of my mom’s yummy lemon tarts, and the shortbread complimented it all as only a buttery cookie can. Scrumptious things aside, we felt that this portion was a on the small side, as desserts go–I definitely didn’t want to share this one, and I probably could have gobbled up 3 more as well (I don’t know if that’s a testament to how small it is or how much of a pig I am).

All in all, I did like our visit to Cotto– the atmosphere is nice, catering to different crowds (mid-thirties set, families, couples on dates), and the food was pretty decent, though a little on the pricey side considering the neighbourhood. Since it’s so close to my workplace, I can definitely see myself making a future visit– I’d want to try out some of their other pizzas (the Pizza Cotto does sounds really good), as well as the other wines they stock.

Cotto Enoteca Pizzeria
6011 Hastings Street
Burnaby, BC

Cotto Enoteca Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Chad Thai

My school schedule this term actually isn’t half bad– with classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only, I have plenty of time for finishing up school work at school (anyone else find that they can’t focus at home?), plus I can teach and volunteer during the week as well! A side benefit of this schedule is that I have more time to actually go out and eat… which means more blog posts too!

So Samson and I decided to go out one Wednesday night for a quick dinner– with no particular place in mind, we turned to the Hastings Heights, a sure place to find food nearby. Lucky for us, Chad Thai on Hastings and MacDonald was open, and we had heard great things from David, so we decided to try it out.

The restaurant is small, with maybe 15 tables total. Of these, only 1 was occupied when we entered, so we had our pick– a seat near the window, of course! A friendly waitress, who I can only assume is the owner/manager of the family-run joint quickly brought over menus and water, and let us know about the daily special.

There was so much on the menu, we were really unsure of what to pick! We ended up with the daily special and two salads (one cold and one warm), as well as some rice on the side. First up was the Som Tum, or green papaya salad. This version had plenty of shredded carrots, radish and peanuts as well as tomato chunks, green beans and dried shrimp, but was a little under-stocked on the green papaya. The dressing was pretty typical– tart from the lime and tamarind, sweet and spicy– but I appreciated that we were able to choose the degree of spice (we had the mild for everything, since we were new to the place). This was definitely a good starter, as it was crisp and very refreshing.

Next up was the Nam Tok Moo, a warm pork salad with bits of pounded roasted rice (which didn’t taste too much like rice, because it was the tiny bits were all spread out and covered with sauce), dressed with slices of red onion, and plenty of green onions, mint and cilantro. The pork slices were thinly sliced and had just enough fat to make it deliciously textured without being overly unhealthy. The dressing for this salad tasted a little bit like a spicier fish sauce mix, which was again tart with a hint of spice. We probably could have ordered this in the hot (I definitely would next time I come here).

For our main dish, we had the Khao Soi curry noodles, which actually included two types of noodle– a flat egg noodle reminiscent of Chinese ho fun, and a crunchy noodle topping. With the noodles came an abundance of moist chicken pieces, as well as cilantro and green onion garnishes and sides of pickled radish, hot sauce and a lime wedge. The best part of the dish was the curry soup, which was very coconutty and creamy– the stuff of comfort foods. I liked this so much that I had a craving for it the next day, and it’s rare that I want the same dish two days in a row.

In addition to this, we actually ordered a bowl of Coconut Rice as well so we had something to soak up the sauce (for this and for the Nam Tok Moo). This was one of the best bowls of coconut rice I’ve had– it was very aromatic and sweet, and the rice was decently fluffy and not too hard, like it had been sitting in a cooker all day. Size-wise, this was a pretty good deal too: for $3, we received a huge bowl of it, and could barely finish it all.

We decided to deviate from our regular routine and ordered dessert at the restaurant instead of going to a different place. Now, I forgot to take a picture of he Vanilla Ice Cream with Topping, but basically we got a big bowl of ice cream with palm seeds on top (this photo is from, a Thai recipe site that also conveniently has pictures of the more ethnic ingredients used in Thai cuisine.) This was a real treat on a hot day– the ice cream was a little on the icy side (which I actually appreciated) and was very vanilla-y as well, though I don’t believe they make their own ice cream here. We decided to be adventurous and chose palm seeds for our single topping, and I’m glad we did. These chewy, translucent gelatinous balls changed up the dessert texturally, and while they didn’t have too much of a flavour profile beyond “sweet”, I really enjoyed them! So much so that I ended up buying a can of palm seeds from PriceSmart Foods (the exact brand above) so I could replicate the dessert at home.

Overall, both Samson and I felt that this was a very satisfying meal, as the food was obviously prepared with care by the kitchen staff (I feel like maybe there was only 1 cook back there… I didn’t hear too much coming from the kitchen aside from cooking sounds). The woman who greeted us and the teenaged boy who served us were both friendly and helpful, even when I made the weird request of asking for more cilantro for my noodles. They took the time to explain dishes to us, and really contributed to making our visit a great one. I could see also that the locals like to come here– lots of people came to get take out orders, and while not many tables were filled that night, I could tell that the patrons there enjoyed themselves as much as I did (one family actually ordered two of the same dish because the son loved it so much he wanted it for lunch the next day… maybe I should have done that!). Our meal came to about $25 each, which is a little bit on the high side for the neighbourhood and kind of establishment, but for the quality of food and service, I would gladly spend my money here again.

Chad Thai
4010 East Hastings Street
Burnaby, BC

Chad Thai on Urbanspoon

Los Compadres Mexican Food (Permanently Closed)

One of the perks of transiting to work is that you really get to notice all the stores and restaurants around you that you don’t normally pay attention to. I had such an opportunity this summer, when I was commuting to work at McGill Park in North Burnaby. Five days a week, I would trek down the Heights, wearing my blue City shirt and listening to my favourite song (which happened to be from the Tangled Soundtrack. I work with kids, ok?), and I would almost always notice a shop or restaurant that I didn’t pay attention to before.

Los Compadres (or A Little Taste of Mexico, I’m not sure which since both names are displayed, but Urbanspoon goes with the former) was a restaurant that I’ve been past countless times on my way to church, but I’ve never really had the desire to eat there. Maybe because I would pass by when the blinds were drawn/restaurant was closed, or maybe because it’s a little morbid eating next to a funeral home… whatever the case was, at the beginning of summer I found myself walking in during dinnertime, where I grabbed a take-out menu to peruse on my way home.

I didn’t get the chance to go there until the middle of August, when Samson, Darek and I were looking for a place to grab a quick bite before we went shopping for our camping trip. Since this was close by my park and sort of on the way to Superstore, we decided to stop by.

We were seated right by the street (the windows open up all the way), and given menus to look at by the sole waitress working. We ordered an appy and 3 mains– first up was the Pico De Gallo, which came in a modest portion with a basket of tortilla chips. The veggies in the pico de gallo were fresh– peppers and onions were crisp, tomatoes were diced nicely– and there was just enough seasoning from the fresh herbs. The chips were adequate, and were a manageable size (I hate it when the chips are too big for the dip, so you end up with a tiny bit of salsa/whatever and way too much plain chip that you can’t double dip. Not that we really care about double dipping.) Although I wish there was more pico de gallo to go around, we didn’t expect too much since it was only $3.50.

Two out of our three mains were tacos– we ordered both soft and hard shells, with fillings of chorizo, pork, chicken or beef, of which you can choose two of if you’re ordering the 4-taco option (not too sure what the protocol is for 2 tacos). Since we had 4 options for meat, we decided to split them half-half between the two different kinds of tacos. The Hard Shell Tacos were filled with pork and beef , as well as the usual fixings of lettuce, cheese, tomatoes as well as a light drizzle of sour cream. I’ve never actually tried hard tacos before, since I always deemed them too messy to eat properly (and I’m a pretty messy eater as is… don’t really need crispy bits of taco flying everywhere too). The veggie fillings all tasted quite fresh, though the meats were a bit on the dry side. This was compensated for by the generous amount of lime juice and hot sauce, though.

Our Soft Shell Tacos, filled with chorizo and chicken and topped with tomatoes, onions and cilantro, were a tiny bit of a disappointment. The fillings themselves were fine– the chicken was surprisingly not too dry, the chorizo had a good amount of heat, and the toppings were fresh– but the tortillas were on the dry side. Much like La Taqueria, Los Compadres serves their soft shell tacos on a double tortilla, and these were a bit too thick. I think part of the issue too was that there was no sauce accompanying the meat (like the De Cachete at La Taq, which was super juicy), so the tortillas seemed even dryer than usual. I ended up moving half the filling onto the 2nd tortilla so that I didn’t have to eat two of them at once.

The Chicken Enchiladas were tightly rolled and smothered with mole sauce, which had light hints of chocolate. With the enchiladas, I found the sauce to be overwhelming– while I didn’t want them to be super dry, I also didn’t want them to be drowning in such a thick sauce. Because of this, I couldn’t really taste much of the flavours in the enchilada, but the chicken seemed a little drier here. On the side was a generous portion of Spanish Fried Rice and Refried Beans, as well as a garden salad. The rice was actually quite chewy, but was on the blander side of things (there seems to be a problem with extremes here), while the beans tasted… beany. I mean, they’re mushed beans– what can I say about them? The veggies were again crisp and fresh, if not a little plain since it didn’t come with any dressing.

On the whole, I think that Los Compadres was an alright choice– given the neighbourhood, I don’t think you would be able to find Mexican food nearby other than Tacotime at the Brentwood food court (which is more tex-mex and… just not very good). I thought that the ingredients were of good quality, but that some dishes could use more sauce, and others could use a little less, but that’s really just me. Our dinner didn’t set us back too far, and I would consider stopping by here again if I was craving Mexican and didn’t want to venture too far from home.

Los Compadres Mexican Food
4280 Hastings Street
Burnaby, BC

Los Compadres Mexican Food on Urbanspoon

La Villetta Ristorante

Having spent the entire day (and the day before that) studying for my finals, it was definitely time to take a break from the university food and unhealthy snackage I was ingesting too much of, and go for a nice meal with the fam. Since I was up at SFU, we decided to go to La Villetta, an Italian restaurant on the corner of Hastings and Ingleton.

I didn’t actually know which restaurant this was until I looked it up on Google Maps– turns out I pass by this place every Sunday on my way to church, but we’ve never been (probably because it isn’t open for lunch anymore… and if it were, my cousins’ picky eating would definitely prevent us from going in). The restaurant was really warm and cozy when I entered, which was great because the weather that day was supremely miserable.  The decor is reminiscent of a B&B… very woodsy and rustic, and with all the candles and couples, it seemed slightly too romantic for a family meal. Whoops.

Upon getting seated, we were presented right away with a basket of warm and crusty homemade bread. By now you probably know about my love for bread… would it surprise you that both my grandma and my mom love bread too? So much so, they were raving about how warm and delicious and soft it was all night long. My dad just sat there looking very amused, but he probably thought we were crazy.

Anyways. The four of us ordered 3 pastas and an appetizer to share. First up was the appy Vongole a la Marinara–steamed clams in a sauce made with tomato, white wine and garlic. The good thing about this dish was that almost all the clams (except for 3) were open and very fresh, albeit on the smaller side. The sauce, however, wasn’t to our liking at all as it was far too bland. It tasted like the juice from a can of diced tomatoes, only a little thicker, and I couldn’t taste the wine or garlic at all. I think we were meant to dip our bread (they had brought over a second basket) in the sauce, but all that resulted in was bland, soggy bread. Definitely not that great a start to our meal.

Our three pastas arrived shortly after the clams did, which meant that our small table was getting a little crowded, what with all the dishes and cups. We dug into the vegetarian Linguine Della Casa, which was tossed with sun-dried tomatoes and a variety of mushrooms in an olive oil-tomato sauce, and topped with fresh bocconcini. The slightly melted cheese tasted mild and fresh (as it should), and there was a plethora of mushrooms and tomatoes in the pasta. However, there was far too much olive oil used in the cooking process, so that the tomatoes ended up being oil-logged, and there was a rather unpleasant-looking thick coat of oil left in the plate after we had finished the dish. I know it says in the menu that the sauce is made with olive oil, but I didn’t think that there would be THAT much of it… so I’m not sure if it was a misunderstanding on my part, or if the restaurant overdid it. The dish definitely would have been better if there was less oil, though.

The waitress had recommended the Cannelloni to us, so we ordered that as well. This pasta was stuffed with veal, spinach and ricotta cheese, then baked in a tomato cream sauce. I thought that the cannelloni itself was well executed, in that the pasta was al dente and that the filling tasted quite good. However, this fell short again in the sauce department. We thought that the sauce had a weird, mealy consistency to it, and tasted more cheesy than tomato-y, which was a bit of a turn off. I mean, the dish was fine if we scraped off the sauce, but really… we shouldn’t have had to do that, especially if it was a recommended dish!

At this point in the meal I was feeling a little bleh about the place, but our final dish, the Linguine Pescatore, helped redeem the night a little bit. Loaded with mussels, prawns, clams, scallops and salmon and cooked in a white wine-butter sauce with garlic, this pasta was definitely our favourite of the night. In terms of the sauce, this one tasted like it should, and wasn’t too heavy despite the butter. The seafood tasted fresh (though the scallops were a little on the overcooked side), the pasta was al dente, and everything just meshed well together. I ended up dipping my bread into this buttery and garlicky sauce because it was just that good.

By the time we were done with the pastas and the 2 baskets of bread we were feeling quite full… but then the waitress came by and asked us if we wanted dessert. It turns out they had Spumoni Ice Cream, which is one of my favourites (I would buy a gigantic tub if I knew where to get it). For those who don’t know, Spumoni is a three-flavoured ice cream much like Neapolitan ice cream– both have chocolate and vanilla, but Spumoni typically replaces the strawberry flavour with pistachio. You might have had it before if you’ve gone to the Old Spaghetti Factory, but the “authentic” version of the ice cream usually contains candied fruits or nuts. Our plate of ice cream came with a little dollop of whipped cream and cinnamon, and there were candied fruits (like in a fruit cake) in the vanilla layer, and chopped nuts in the chocolate layer. The pistachio and vanilla flavours were both really light, which really let the creamy and rich chocolate layer shine. This is definitely one of the better ones I’ve had!

So La Villetta was a bit of a hit and miss. I thought the prices were pretty reasonable– although the dishes seemed small at first, we ended up getting really full off of what we ordered. The pastas themselves were alright, but there were some pretty big execution problems in terms of the sauces for most of our dishes, which to me is a bit weird at an Italian restaurant. The servers were also hit and miss– we had one who was really nice, and another who was a little brusque and made us feel rushed. Perhaps it was just that night and those dishes that didn’t showcase the quality of the restaurant (many people do like it on Urbanspoon)… in any case, I would be willing to return sometime in the future to try the other items on their menu, but I think I would try some other Italian restaurants in the area so I can get a better picture of the cuisine first.

La Villetta Ristorante
3901 East Hastings Street
Burnaby, BC

La Villetta Ristorante on Urbanspoon

Bombay Beat Indian Cuisine (Permanently Closed)

On a random Sunday afternoon, Jelissa, Nathaniel, Timothy (the photographer) and I walked over to Bombay Beat on Hastings Street for a much-needed lunch break. It was the perfect day for something hot and spicy—chilly, grey and rainy, all you would want to do is snuggle up with a cozy blanket and a good book. We, of course, did the next best thing, and went out to eat!

Bombay Beat is one of a few newer Indian restaurants that have cropped up in the neighbourhood. Don’t be fooled by the familiar-looking structure next to Anton’s—Bombay Beat opened its doors in the middle of last year, replacing the original chain restaurant, Bombay Bhel. The building itself hasn’t been renovated, and the menu hasn’t been changed; however, there is a very different set of waiters working at the restaurant.

The four of us were promptly seated by the sole server (who also seemed to be the owner of the place). The restaurant was quite empty when we walked in, and there were no more than two tables seated the whole time we were there. You would think that this would translate to more attentive service… but more on that later.

We ended up ordering three plates to share. First up is the Butter Chicken, which has large pieces of boneless chicken breast in a tomato-based cream sauce. I make a point of ordering this every time I come here, as I really do like it (not because the other curries are too exotic for my tastes). The chicken was good; I don’t have any complaints about that. There were a lot of pieces in the dish, which means that it’s great for sharing. This time though, the sauce was less creamy than I would have liked. It was on the chunkier side, and it just wasn’t as smooth as the butter chicken I’ve had here before. Also, the sauce was medium warm (as opposed to piping hot), and so it cooled down quite a bit during the meal, which, of course, isn’t ideal.

Our second dish was the Goan Coconut Curry with Lamb. This is a tomato-based curry that is made with coconut cream (as is obvious in the name). I liked this more than the Butter Chicken, which was a little bit of a letdown, to be honest. This was served hot in a metal bowl, and the spices made for a very aromatic curry that wasn’t overwhelming—a nice change from the Asian yellow curries I usually eat. The lamb was cut up in smallish cubes, and was cooked thoroughly without being tough. It wasn’t too gamey tasting, and so it was quite enjoyable.

The Vindaloo with Beef was the spiciest, and yummiest, dish we had. Also served in a metal thermos-like bowl, there was a good potato-to-beef ratio, making for a filling meal. The potatoes were starting to disintegrate into the sauce, but this wasn’t unpleasant in the slightest—it just made for a thicker stew that could be scooped up easily by our pieces of naan. This yellow curry had little bits of chili in it, so that it was a very satisfying heat to it. The beef was just a touch tougher than the lamb was, but it wasn’t difficult to eat, and so didn’t diminish the overall dish.

Each of our dishes included a side order of either naan or rice. We decided to get two orders of the bread and only one of the rice, since the portion of rice was actually quite large the last few times I’ve been here. The Naan bread was fluffy and nicely baked—there were no burnt bits—and we ended up really wanting more of it! Only slightly seasoned, with a drizzle of oil and a few cilantro leaves, the bread was very simple, and didn’t detract from the different flavours of curry that were eaten with it. I have a major thing for bread (as you probably know by now), and so I’d always order this in lieu of rice. However, for blogging and variety purposes, we also had a large (single) order of cooled Aromatic Rice. The first thing I noticed about this was that the grains are a lot longer than Chinese rice. The second thing I noticed when I tasted the rice was that it had a… well, aromatic taste to it. I want to say soapy, but I don’t think that correctly conveys my thoughts about this. It was fragrant. There. The only other flavour in the rice came from the cilantro leaves that topped it; otherwise, like the naan, it let the curries take the spotlight. I still prefer Chinese rice, though. Years of conditioning, I suppose!

Service-wise, I find that Bombay Beat is very inconsistent. A few weeks ago, when I went for Sunday lunch by myself, the sweetest waitress was on duty. She was polite, friendly, and accommodating without being overbearing. I was struggling to decide on a drink (they were out of the mango shake), and so she let me try a small cup of the mango lassi, in case I didn’t like it (I didn’t)—and that’s just one of the many things she did that time that made the experience great. This time, however, the server (the owner?) was rather brusque and aloof, even though the restaurant was pretty quiet. I feel like I would have had a better time if he had asked us how we were doing, made some recommendations, and refilled our water more than once (that vindaloo had us sweating!)

I had a decent time at Bombay Beat, but I do think it was more due to my company than the restaurant’s atmosphere and the food. I have to admit that while I was eating I was comparing the Beat to the Bhel, and I found that both in service and food it was a step down from what it used to be. Food prices are pretty standard, but I definitely miss the Bhel’s lunch menu, which serves the same dishes but at a lowered cost. All in all, I’d say I had an ok-time, but I probably won’t be going back until they change their service.

Bombay Beat Indian Cuisine
4266 Hastings Street
Burnaby, BC
Permanently Closed

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Hello again! I apologize for not being on top of my blogging—I’ve had so much to do, what with school and work and studying and volunteering, I just haven’t had the time to write something up! But here it is—something short and sweet (for those of you who have to get back to your studies too).

My parents treated me to dinner at Horizons on a random Thursday night. After a tough day at work (the screaming children really get to you after a while), it felt really good to unwind with some good eats. Plus, as Horizons is on Burnaby Mountain, and it was a clear night, the view was spectacular!

My parents and I all got the same thing, the New York Steak and Lobster Tail Combo. We even got the steak done to the same degree… so much for being adventurous. But who can pass up a deal this good? The regular NY Steak is $33… without the lobster tail. This was a pretty large portion; definitely not what I was expecting when I heard it cost less than some of their chicken and pasta entrees. The steak and lobster were plated along with wild rice and a medley of roasted vegetables, including golden beets, carrots, zucchini, red peppers, and green beans. My steak was grilled a perfect medium-rare: hot all the way through, with juicy, pinkish-red meat inside and a seared brown outer edge. It wasn’t dry at all, and I don’t think it needed the au jus that was drizzled overtop of it. It added to the flavour, for sure, but I could also have done without it. The lobster was also cooked well, tasting fresh with some snap. It came with a lemon wedge and clarified butter—all pretty standard stuff. The only qualm I have with our dishes was that there was slight inconsistency: while my mom’s and mysteak were prepared just right, my dad’s was on the drier side, leaning more towards medium than medium-rare, but it’s not like it was unpleasant to eat. Still, for this value, it wasn’t too bad. Of course, if I were paying full-price, it would be more of an issue.

The sides of the rice and vegetables were alright—I’m a slight rice snob (being Asian I’m just accustomed to great rice), and the wild rice just didn’t do it for me. The vegetables were roasted just right, however, so that was definitely a plus. We also ordered a side of Sautéed Baby Spinach and Sautéed BC Mushrooms. The spinach was made with white wine, butter, and garlic, but I wasn’t a fan of that—but then, I don’t like the way cooked spinach feels on my tongue. Also, because of the sautéing, the spinach felt too heavy and mushy, so I only ended up having a bit. The mushrooms, however, were fantastic.

There was a good mix of button, shitake, porcini and portabella mushrooms cooked in browned butter and balsamic vinegar. Unlike the spinach, these were not overloaded with butter; there was just enough to taste, and it was only mildly flavoured. The sides were $5 each, and while I didn’t enjoy the spinach, I definitely recommend the mushrooms.

I’d classify Horizons as a “fine-dining” establishment, but you definitely won’t mistake it for something you’d find downtown. I like it because it’s rather intimate and quiet—you can have an actual conversation here, without having to worry about too-loud music and/or too-loud people. The service has been decent and friendly the few times I’ve been here, but I did experience a little bit of awkwardness this time around (the waiter seemed like he was preoccupied with something). And of course, the view from the south-side window seats can’t be beat—on a sunny afternoon, you can see all the way to the airport in Richmond!

There’s still a good two weeks left in March, so I definitely recommend you go to Horizons for their special offer this month (it’s only $20!). It is a little hard to get to if you don’t drive, but I do think it’s worth the trip. I’ve also heard some good reviews of their regular menu items as well, so maybe a trek up the mountain in the summer is something you can add to your to-do list! Just make sure it isn’t raining (:

100 Centennial Way
Burnaby, BC

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