Tip Thai Restaurant

Living out in the burbs definitely has its benefits, but sometimes it can be difficult to find new and exciting places to eat. (Going all the way out to the West End for ramen is always a pain). Generally my eating adventures have me journeying westward from my home base of Coquitlam, but sometimes my family likes to travel east into PoCo for some eats. Since we’re all big fans of Thai food, we decided to try out Tip Thai one night to see if it’d measure up to the Thai restaurants in Vancouver.

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We started off with the Tom Yum Kung ($6.95) as usual. The soup consisted of halved tomatoes, prawns, and button mushrooms. It tasted like every other version I’ve had of this soup, sour and refreshing but also quite spicy. The broth tasted strongly of lemongrass, while the prawns were pleasantly fat and juicy. We used the soup to clear our palates when consuming the other dishes. I liked that they didn’t hold back on the spices, which made it taste that much more authentic and delicious.

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And of course we had to have the Green Curry ($9.95), which is a personal favourite of mine. We were able to choose the level of spiciness for this dish, and we opted for medium. As expected, the curry tasted strongly of coconut milk, and was both sweet and savoury. It was full of large pieces of soft eggplant, and small pieces of moist chicken. The curry itself had a strong, spicy aftertaste, making it great to eat alongside the rice.

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Instead of ordering a plain rice on the side, we had the Tip Thai Fried Rice ($9.95), Jasmine rice stir-fried with onions, tomatoes, and broccoli. This was a normal fried rice, really, with nothing blatantly Thai about it. But then again, it was a good dish to have at the table, especially if you’re not crazy about spicy foods. The rice itself was slightly salty, but other than that, it was tasty, if slightly unmemorable.

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We had another Thai classic in the Pad Thai ($9.95), served with egg, bean sprouts, onion, pressed tofu, and topped with crushed peanuts.  I was well-satisfied with the version here, which had none of that ketchup stickiness but instead the tanginess and sweetness from tamarind sauce. The noodles themselves were chewy and toothsome, exactly the way they should be.

DSC_0014We had more noodles in the form of Pad Se-Ew ($9.95), thicker rice noodles stir-fried with soy sauce, egg, carrots, cabbages, and broccoli. Like the pad thai, the noodles here were pleasantly chewy, while the beef was moist, tender, and easy to chew. The dish had an overall savoury, slightly salty taste, which was to be expected, I suppose. While I enjoyed these noodles, for me, nothing can ever beat a good pad thai.

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And lastly, we had the Pad Pak Ruam-mit ($9.95), which was, for me, the least familiar dish out of the ones we sampled. Despite the unfamiliar name, the dish was rather simple, with vegetables and chicken stir-fried in garlic sauce. It wasn’t a bad dish to be sure, but nothing incredibly memorable, and to be honest, there was no real discernible taste other than the saltiness. If I were to visit again, I probably wouldn’t order this dish a second time.

Overall, the food we had at Tip Thai was decent, but nothing special, and quite typical of a restaurant its size. I suppose we should also factor in the location. Let’s face it: I wouldn’t expect mind-bogglingly amazing Thai food from a small restaurant in PoCo. In any case, though, the service was prompt, and the food arrived at our table at the speed of light, despite the presence of other patrons in the restaurant. So if you happen to be in PoCo and in need of a quick lunch or dinner, Tip Thai would be a decent spot. I mean, of course there’s better places for Thai food, but probably not anywhere close by.

Tip Thai Restaurant
2606 Shaughnessy Street
Port Coquitlam, BC
Tip Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Fuji Sushi

As a Coquitlam resident who treks out to Vancouver at least five days a week for school, I was quite happy when Translink announced its plans for the Evergreen Line. However, due to the construction, many businesses have had to relocate, including Fuji Sushi, a well-known Japanese-operated sushi restaurant in Coquitlam. Fuji Sushi was originally located on Clarke Road, but exists in its present incarnation in Port Moody. My family decided to visit one weekend night, as we’re always on the search for great restaurants in the Tri-Cities area.

The restaurant is spacious, bright, and family-friendly, which is a plus in my book. It does have its own parking lot for customers, but the parking lot was frustratingly narrow. We drive a compact car and we had to be incredibly cautious to maneuver out of there without damaging someone else’s vehicle. I would recommend you find another place to park, which would save you a lot of hassle.

DSC_0002We perused the menu, and our order was promptly taken by one of the waitresses. By virtue of our having ordered some dinner boxes, we received some Miso SoupI liked how the miso soup wasn’t too salty, but it actually bordered on the bland side. It was quite standard, as far as miso soup goes, with some diced green onion and little pieces of tofu. None of us had any real complaints about this, but then again, it’s just miso soup, right?

DSC_0001Next, we were served some Salad, also part of the dinner boxes. The salad was comprised of lettuce, julienned carrots, slices of tomato, and the typical citrus-y dressing found at most Japanese restaurants. I didn’t love the salad, though, as the ingredients were really cold. The veggies tasted like they had come straight out of the fridge, which isn’t exactly appetizing. The tomato in particular was quite mushy and obviously was not fresh. I wasn’t quite impressed with this salad.

DSC_0004My brother opted for the Sushi Dinner Box ($15), while my mom had the version with sashimi (also $15). The dinner boxes included assorted tempura, a choice of chicken or beef teriyaki, an orange, the daily special (in our case some kind of deep-fried salmon), and the requisite sushi or sashimi. The sushi consisted of nigiri (tuna, salmon, ebi, and tamago) and a tuna roll, and the sashimi for the sashimi dinner box had the same components. Starting with the tempura…the batter looked browner than normal, and we conjectured that the oil in which they had been fried was a bit old. Although the fish itself tasted fresh, the sushi rice was quite mushy, which ruined the texture. The chicken teriyaki was a little too tough, although we liked how it was moist, and neither too sweet nor salty. The deep-fried salmon looked a bit burned, and was difficult to eat because it still contained bones. It also tasted incredibly fishy, and there was no lemon to freshen up the taste. I think that this had been fried beforehand and then simply reheated for us, which enhanced the fishiness. The dinner boxes were also accompanied by a bowl of white rice.

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I went for my usual in the Oyako Don ($8.50), with a bed of white rice covered by steamed egg, chicken, and onions, with a few pieces of pickled daikon served on the side. I really liked how the daikon was included–a few bites of it helped freshen my palate. The chicken was quite moist, and the egg was smooth and creamy. Overall, I was satisfied with my dinner, and I felt that it was a good value. I liked how the chicken and onions were in bite-size pieces, which made them easy to eat.

DSC_0011My dad had the Chicken Katsu ($8), which came with some sliced cabbage and the aforementioned salad. Although he was satisfied with the chicken itself, as it was both moist and not too salty, my dad was turned off by the colour of the batter. It was quite dark, which meant again that the oil that the chicken had been fried in was old. Since we arrived earlier in the night (before 7), I found it odd that they would use such old oil.

DSC_0013We ended up ordering an Assorted Tempura ($8) to share. Oden (available on their specials sheet) had been our first choice, but apparently they’d already sold out of it, even though the restaurant wasn’t even half full when we got there, which was quite early (ie., before 7pm). Anyways…well, as with the previous fried items, we could tell that these had been fried in old oil. The prawn tempura was much smaller than I’m used to, and overall, I didn’t think this was a great deal for the price. Besides the two pieces of prawn tempura, there were only 2 pieces of zucchini, and one piece each of carrot, onion, and sweet potato. In any case, the state of the oil really bothered us more than anything else.

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And, of course, I had to order a couple of rolls, these being the Negitoro Roll ($2.75) and the Chopped Scallop Roll ($3.75). These were standard, but once again, the rice was quite mushy, so I didn’t enjoy them as much as I usually do. The toro and the scallops both seemed decently fresh, but the texture of the rice was simply too distracting.

And that concludes our visit to Fuji Sushi. Considering all the hype, we were quite disappointed. To be fair, we ended up comparing most of the items to their equivalents at Matoi Sushi, our go-to sushi place, and this place fell flat in comparison. The prices are similar, but both the food and service are much better at Matoi. Our waitress seemed to lack confidence, and constantly forgot to bring us what we asked for. Next time we have sushi cravings, we’ll probably just stick with what we know and love and head down to Matoi.

Fuji Sushi
3017 St. Johns Street
Port Moody, BC

Fuji Sushi on Urbanspoon


Bob Likes Thai Food

In the last week of November, my uncle decided to visit from Korea–for something like five days. That sounds short (and it was), but maybe you’ll see it in a different light once I reveal that he’s a flight attendant. The life of a flight attendant is quite tiring, as you can imagine, and he really just came to get some rest. Still, since it’s not like we see him everyday, we wanted to take him somewhere nice for dinner, although it wasn’t like we could introduce him to some brand new cuisine, since he’s travelled most of the world already. I did have a coupon for Tropika from ChineseBites, but my parents weren’t convinced when I mentioned Tropika is Chinese-run. Still, it got us thinking about the possibility of Southeast Asian food, and we ended up driving out to Bob Likes Thai Food, serving up (relatively) authentic Thai food on Main Street.

In comparison to Korean and Japanese food, I don’t have as tight a grasp on Thai food, and I was glad to have my uncle with us. Bangkok is one of his favourite cities to visit, and he became the unofficial judge of authenticity and taste that night. It was also my brother’s first time trying Thai food, so it was a special night in more ways than one.

DSC_0017First up, we had the Chicken Satay ($4.50 for 2 skewers). We had 2 orders. (I was hoping they’d add an extra skewer for free considering we were a party of five, but oh well). This was the requisite chicken marinated in a blend of spices and coconut milk, served with a peanut dipping sauce. Out of all the dishes we sampled, I felt the least enthusiastic about this one. The chicken was surprisingly tough and dry, and it was too salty for my tastes. I did like the peanut sauce though, which was quite thick and flavourful. Still, it wasn’t enough to liven up the dryness of the chicken.

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My uncle insisted we order the Tom Yum Koong ($5 for a small, $10 for a large), so we decided on a small. The broth tasted strongly of lemongrass, and the soup included prawns and button mushrooms. We thought it would have tasted better if it came out a bit hotter, but it was good nevertheless. My brother, having never had tom yum koong before, was a bit put off by the taste of lemongrass at first, but he grew to really enjoy it, saying that it complemented the curry very well. Although I thought the lemongrass flavour was strong, my uncle insisted that it was quite mild compared to what he’d actually enjoyed in Thailand, so I suppose they are catering to Vancouver tastebuds a bit.

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Speaking of that curry, we had the Green Curry Chicken ($11.50), a coconut milk-based green curry with chicken, basil, eggplant and bamboo shoots. It was coconutty and gingery, and tasted much better than it looked. The chicken and eggplant were in large slices, although we would have preferred thinner slices in hindsight. Although the curry itself was thick and tasted mostly of coconut, the aftertaste was surprisingly spicy, and eating it together with our jasmine rice and the tom yum koong was perfect. This was probably one of our favourite dishes of the night.

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You can measure a Korean restaurant by their kimchi, and apparently you can measure a Thai restaurant by their Pad Thai ($12). This version had all the usual ingredients: fried rice noodles, prawns, pressed tofu, peanuts, egg, and bean sprouts. This was, simply, delicious. I loved how they relied on tamarind sauce, not ketchup, to bring out a sweet and sour flavour. The dish as a whole was not too wet, and the noodles themselves were chewy, with the crunchiness of the peanuts complementing them well. This was our favourite dish of the night, aside from the green curry.
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Next up, we had more noodles in the Pad Si Ew ($12), fried rice noodles with vegetables and pork. It was a little salty, but it still tasted fine, although it seemed to be my family’s least favourite dish of the day. Personally, I enjoyed it, but I’ve always been partial to flat noodles (I have many childhood memories of eating chow fun back when we lived in the Silicon Valley). The noodles here were cooked well, being chewy, but the primarily salty sauce itself overpowered the other ingredients. It was also greasier than the pad thai, but not overly so.
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 For my dad, we ordered the Chicken Cashew Nut ($12), chicken sauteed with cashew nuts, roasted chili, onion, bell peppers, garlic, and carrots. There were a lot of carrots, as you can see, which wasn’t included in the description. The chili flavour wasn’t very strong, but the nuts were crispy, and the chicken was sufficiently moist after having soaked up the sauce. Compared to the other dishes, though, we weren’t as enthusiastic about this one, although it was still acceptable.
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 We also had the Khao Pad (Thai Fried Rice) ($11.50), fried rice with egg, onion, tomato and chicken. The rice was great, and tasted predominantly sweet, probably from the combination of egg and onion. Being Korean, my family was a little put off by the combination of tomato and rice at first, but we ended up really liking it anyway. We all liked how the rice was nicely moist, but not too oily, which is often the case with fried rice.
DSC_0022Lastly, we had the Jasmine Rice ($1.50) to accompany the green curry. This was freshly cooked and came in a larger portion than I thought it would be. When we were ordering, the waitress warned us that the amount of rice wouldn’t be enough for the five of us, and I suppose she was right. Still, with the amount of dishes we ordered, the rice was a perfect portion for the five of us. The rice itself wasn’t too fragrant and helped to downplay the bold flavours in the curry.

The five of us were very impressed by this dinner at Bob Likes Thai Food. The washrooms were clean, and the waitresses were attentive, filling the water regularly without being obtrusive. Despite my limited knowledge of Thai cuisine, I found the flavours satisfyingly bold. Still, I saw a lack of seafood on the menu, which would be my one complaint. But still, my final verdict is: In Hye likes Bob Likes Thai Food.

Bob Likes Thai Food
3755 Main Street
Vancouver, BC

Bob Likes Thai Food on Urbanspoon


Phnom Penh 金邊小館

Hello again! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful week, even though the next long weekend we have to look forward to in Canada is about a month from now. To help tie you over, here’s a food post (because food makes everything better)!

Because of finals, we couldn’t celebrate Jess’ birthday with her last month, so we decided to do it this month. I was pleasantly surprised with Jess’ restaurant choice in Phnom Penh Cambodian food, as I had heard very good things about both the food and service there. So without further ado, here’s Jess’ birthday post!

I was quite shocked when David and I drove by and saw a few groups of people waiting outside the restaurant for seats. I knew the restaurant was popular, but I had never been, despite passing all the time when my mom and I go grocery shopping in Chinatown. Inside, the restaurant was just as crowded, with all the tables and the waiting area packed full of people. In fact, it was so busy that we (Jess, Angie, Hui, Su, Pickles, Dolph, Jeri, David, Darek, Chan and I) had to wait a while before being seated, even though we had a reservation.

Jess had ordered in advance 3 of the #71 Marinated Thit Bo (Marinated Butter Beef), so these arrived soon after we sat down. Served with their house special sauce, and a ton cilantro and fried garlic, this was a really great appetizer to start off our dinner. The beef was mostly raw with a little cooked strip, and was quite tender. Although the beef wasn’t very buttery, it certainly wasn’t lacking in flavour, as the tangy, vinegary sauce coupled with the toppings made for a very impactful bite.

Jess ordered the Deep Fried Chicken Wings beforehand as well. Served with a lemon-pepper dipping sauce, these super crispy wings were brought over fresh from the kitchen. In terms of flavouring, I detected a slight lemongrass hit in addition to the garlic, chili peppers and other spices that were plated with the wings. It’s pretty hard to screw up chicken wings, and I’m glad to say that Phnom Penh didn’t fall into that sad, sad category. Our group demolished nearly all 4 plates, so I think it’s safe to say that we enjoyed them. My only complaint about this was that there were a lot of wing tips mixed in with the wingettes and drumettes, so that the plates were deceptively full.

Our sole rice dish was the #35 Com Bo Luc Lac (Filet Beef Luc Lac on Rice). This was served with a side of vegetables (a cucumber is missing because Chan stole it before I could take a picture) and a perfectly fried, sunny-side-up egg. Our general consensus was that this plate, while good, was nothing spectacular; in fact, some thought that it was a little too hyped up. I liked the slight sweetness of the sauce; when mixed together with a generous portion of tender beef and egg, there was just enough flavour, and nothing was too overwhelming.

For our soup, we had the #46 Phnom Penh Hot+Sour Soup with Prawns. This was a far cry from the starch thickened tofu, bamboo shoot and wood-ear mushroom soups I’ve been accustomed to. Instead, this was a broth characterized more by its tartness than spiciness. In addition to the prawns, there were also tomatoes, and (surprisingly) pineapple chunks. It was seasoned with mint and a variety of spices, including lemongrass. Darek commented that the pineapples made it a little too sweet for his taste, and I have to say I agree. Overall, I thought that this soup was pretty interesting (I’ve never had such a sour soup before), and while it tasted good, I wish it were more spicy, as there was barely any heat to it.

Next up was the #72 Hao Chien Trieu Chau (Fried Oyster Cake), which was a large pancake-like dish made with oysters and topped with cilantro. I liked that the edges of the pancake were crisp and that there were a lot of oysters; Dolph and others, though, thought that it was a little bit “snotty” in the middle (as in, it was goopy and thick). This was probably due to the large amount of oil used to fry up the pancake, making it, as Darek dubbed it, perfect hangover food. In general, we thought that this tasted as it should.

One of the last dishes to be served was the #81 Cary Ga Nam Vang (Curry Chicken Hot Pot). There was no absence of coconut flavour or heat in this curry, making it a very tasty dish. There were a lot of ingredients in the pot, including onions and yams– I was surprised that they used yams instead of potatoes in the curry, but it certainly provided a different texture to the dish. We actually ordered a side of plain rice to go with the curry so that we could enjoy more of the sauce! Finally, we had the requisite veggie dish in the #90 Cai Lan Xao (Sauteed Gai Lan). We thought this was pretty standard, albeit a little on the oily side. The gai lan was cooked just right, retaining a healthy crunch.

Overall, I thought that our meal was pretty decent, although some things were a little too oily for my taste. The service was more than adequate, considering how busy the place was, and also that it’s family-run. My favourite touch is that the restaurant turns off all the lights when they bring out the birthday cake, and the servers (along with many other patrons) sing happy birthday to the birthday person– it makes for a very warm and friendly environment that I would definitely go to again, even if it’s slightly out of the way. I can definitely see why Phnom Penh is so popular!

Phnom Penh 金邊小館
244 East Georgia Street
Vancouver, BC

Phnom Penh 金邊小館 on Urbanspoon


Dae Ji Pork Cutlet House

Like any family, mine has a couple go-to places when considering where to eat out. Usually we’ll take a trip to Hee Rae Dung or get takeout from Sushi Garden. Lately though, I’ve been feeling a little tired of our usual places, so on a very warm April evening I suggested trying another Korean restaurant on Lougheed Highway and North Road. When we arrived, though, we found that there wasn’t a single diner to be found inside…which bothered me. I always feel hesitant about going into a restaurant where no one else is eating–I usually just find the closest restaurant with at least one occupied table. (SB hates this habit of mine. He usually just drags me into restaurants). Now that I think about it, it wasn’t even 6pm yet, which probably explained the lack of customers. Still, we drove to the nearby Dae Ji, which had several tables seated despite the early time. A good sign, right?

I used to frequent this place a few years ago. Since then, the owner and the name of the restaurant has changed many times, although the main menu has remained the same: pork cutlet, and variations thereof. This was my first visit in its present incarnation as Dae Ji, which is the Korean word for pig. On entering I saw they’d kept the basic layout of the restaurant but expanded the dining area. Still, there was only one waitress on duty. She did fine and was actually quite friendly and efficient, but I’m not sure how she’d do if there were more customers.

My mom had the regular Pork Cutlet, which is served with gravy sauce, steamed rice, corn, macaroni salad, pickled daikon, and shredded cabbage with Thousand Island dressing. She thought that there wasn’t enough rice, but the sauce was smooth and complimented the pork quite well. When we used to visit this place in its previous incarnation, the pork cutlet used to be thicker and softer, and drowned in sauce. This version was thinner and much crispier. I personally thought this version was a lot better, but I suppose that’s just personal preference. I thought that she could have done without the macaroni salad and just had more rice instead, as she had no rice leftover and only the cutlet remaining, and eating the cutlet by itself ended up being a little too salty.

My brother had a variation of the dish above in the Spicy Cheese Pork Cutlet, with the same sides as above. He thought there was an excessive amount of shredded cabbage, although he enjoyed it anyways, and not enough rice. Out of the sides, he really liked the macaroni salad, which seemed to also be dressed with Thousand Island (making things easier for the kitchen staff, I guess?) His pork cutlet was less crispy than the basic one, probably due to the addition of cheese, which was melted right on top. The gravy sauce was also spicier than he expected, but it was pleasant enough to eat with the side dishes, which all had a predominantly sweet flavour.

My dad went for something a little different in the Marinated Pork Loin with Rice, which came with a miso soup, plus the cabbage and daikon above. He found it much spicier than his expectations–although the English description said it was spicy, the Korean description failed to do so. Also, he commented that he would have preferred the rice to be served separately. While he enjoyed the sides as well, he had little to say about the pork itself, saying that there was nothing much in the way of taste except the spiciness, which overwhelmed any other quality.

I normally order the pork cutlet at these restaurants but I didn’t want to repeat my mom’s order, so I tried the Hamburger Steak, which is served with all the same sides and the same gravy sauce. I found that the meat, while moist, had little in the way of flavour. I found it difficult to eat, as it would just crumble and fall apart as you cut it into smaller pieces, and became difficult to pick up from the plate. This isn’t the restaurant’s fault though, as all hamburger steaks are that way. I didn’t enjoy it much, but my parents commented that I was probably biased, as I don’t particularly enjoy hamburger steaks anyway. The gravy sauce could have had a more pronounced flavour. It was a little bland as the steak itself lacked flavour on its own (more so than the cutlets). A little pepper would have helped.

I do feel that Dae Ji is an improvement over its previous incarnations, and that the food is more than acceptable for the low prices. Although I have yet to try the downtown location, I’m sure I will when given the opportunity. Dae Ji isn’t a traditional Korean restaurant–you shouldn’t expect the usual japchae and bibimbap, but it’s one of the few places to get Korean pork cutlet in the area, and a great place for a simple and inexpensive dinner.

Dae Ji
4501 North Road
Burnaby, BC

Dae Ji on Urbanspoon