Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pho Cao Van - Richmond

As most of my friends know, I'm kind of a ramen kind of guy - a nice, rich bowl of miso ramen with extra fat and extra chashu.  But on occasion, I find myself craving something a bit lighter, and that's usually Pho. 
What do I like about Pho Cao Van?  I'll say it's the broth.  Is it really good, or just have lots of MSG in it, I have no idea, but I usually drink it up.   In comparision to say Pho Viet, I'd say Pho Cao Van has a better tasting broth.  This is item #1 on the menu, house special.  It comes with meatballs, rare beef, beef brisket, some tripe and tendon.  I like all that stuff, so if there's a special on the menu, it usually comes with all those goodies.  Some places don't include the meatballs in their house specials. 

My friend had the grilled chicken.

Anyway, I don't have pho very often, so I can't say I know what really good pho tastes like. My only experiences with pho are with Pho Viet (used to be behind Chapters, near Nando's Chicken in Richmond), this other place across from Richmond City Hall and a couple of other places in Vancouver.  In the end though, I usually find myself coming back to Pho Cao Van.  Pho Cao Van has pretty fast service (like most pho places I've been to), the staff are generally friendly, and the food tastes good.  The places is ALOT cleaner than the old Pho Viet (before they moved - no idea what it's like now), so that's a huge plus for me.

Pho Cao Van has pretty bad ratings on Urban Spoon, so that tells me that either a lot of people don't like this place, or I just have really bad taste....haha, a lot of people would probably say the latter!

Pho Cao Van Vietnamese on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 29, 2010

Vera's Burger - UBC

Sorry about the cell phone food review, these pictures suck.  When I get a chance, I'll go back and get some proper pictures.  This was the first Vera's Burger I ever went to, and once in a while, I still go.  The location is right in the Village at UBC, and it's within walking distance from our dojo (my iaido class). 
Vera's Burger's are everywhere now, and there's nothing really outstanding or difference about this location. The staff are generally friendly and it doesn't take long to get the food, so no complaints there.  The only pisser I have with Vera's is everything is a la carte.  Fries - extra, Onion Rings - extra, drinks - extra.....oh well, that's their formula and it seems to be working for them so good for them I guess.

I usually the lamb burger when I go to Vera's, and that's not often.  The Lamb Burger is pretty good, and if you like the taste of lamb, that gamey wholesome goodness is bery much in every bite, and not lost in the seasoning. 

Vera's Burger also has a pretty good four cheese burger, but for a few bucks more, I'd rather eat at Milestone's, which has a far superior four cheese burger.  If I want any more gourmet than that, I'll go to Romer's Burger. 

Vera's Burger Shack on Urbanspoon

Penny's Restaurant

Cheap okay food in the middle of nowhere.  That's what probably best describes Penny Restaurant.  It reminded me a little of the Yung Kee of olden days back in Richmond during the early 80's.  I was out with a couple of classmates from my Iaido class and my pal Vincent brought us here for a quick bite to eat. 

The wonton noodles looked a little murkey, but my classmate said it tasted ok.
The fried rice was apparently good, but didn't look shiny (ie greasy) enough for my personal liking.

I had the curry beef brisket, which was surprisingly good.  Yes, I said good, as in I liked it.  It wasn't Mui Garden good, but not too bad.  I'd say it was comparible to Alleluia's Curry Beef Crisket...and it was cheap.

Fortune Cookies!

From the outside, it doesn't look like much, and from the inside, it doesn't look like much either.  But you know what they say sometimes about crumby looking places - the food is good.  Kent's Ktichen in Chinatown is a friggin' filthy dive, but the food is good and cheap.  This place, not quite.  It was cheap, the portions were plenty, and the food was good (at least mine was), but not outstanding.  It just didn't strike me as fantastic enough to make me come back, even though it was cheap as hell. 

I don't think I would have stopped in here if it wasn't for the fact that it was simply on the way to our next destination.  For a tiny little place that wasn't particularly busy, the parking was a nightmare.  Would I go back?  Maybe if it was "on the way" again.

Penny Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Ike's Express - UBC

Crappy rating, but no reviews?  I guess this place is so small, nobody bothered to do a review, but some people did go to the trouble to vote.  Well, to tell the truth, there's not much to tell.  It's in one of UBC's libraries, it supplies caffeine to students who need it, and that's about it.

I had a coffee and a rice crispy square, nothing out of the ordinary but the staff on that day were friendly enough.  I guess most of the clientele are students and since they're at the library, they're probably under some sort of stress from exams or papers or whatever so maybe easily aggitated. 

I didn't find anything wrong with Ike's so I'd probably go back if I were ever in that library again....haha, highly unlikely though.

Ike’s Café on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 26, 2010

BC Sushi

For a guy who loathes all-you-can-eat, I sure end up in a lot of these places.  None of these places ever get good review from me, but I may end up giving this place a neutral review.  Express summary - Food ok, service sucks.

Ok, so now for the more in depth review.  I knew the service was going to be crap, being an AYCE place, so I had no expecations there.  But if the service is crap, then I have to report it as such.  You don't just ignore the fact that it was crap, just because it was AYCE.  The crappy service started before we were even seated, when the hostess barked at me to close the door.  Nice.  The wait time at about 9:30pm wasn't too bad, but when the hostess led us to the table, she had a bored look on her face and mumbled "You can use this table".  I just grinned.  We sat down and looked for the standard order sheets typical of AYCE but supposedly this place had some sort of electronic ordering system.  Not tonight.  This night they had some scrap paper cut into little bits and a pile of pencils for us to scribble the food item # and the quantity. 

Ok, so onto the food.  Teriyaki beef, not bad....but it's hard to screw this one up.
Surf Clam, not my choice.  Usually too chewy, but this is the prepackaged stuff that comes from the same supplier that most Japanese restaurants order from, so there should be no surprises here.

Gyoza, definitely not made in-house, again, probably ordered from the same place Aji-Taro and Tomokazu get theirs.

The Tempura was done ok, except some of the veggies were pretty raw in the middle.

Teriyaki chicken....didn't try this.

Kaki-motoyaki.  They weren't quite egg-tart trays, but there was no half-shell.  Still, it didn't taste that bad.  I think they didn't water down the mayo with Miracle Whip like some places do. 

Shishamo had a weird flavour to it....not sure if it was the seasoning or what, but I didn't like it.  I don't know why all these places deep-fry these things.  It should be grilled, but it hardly ever comes grilled.  It's always deep-fried a la Chinese style....so why not just throw a pile of jiao-yian (you know, that peppery seasoning salt) over it. 

Standard issue salad.

Ok, something good.  The BBQ Beef Short Ribs (Kalbi).  It was kind of a hit and miss though because sometimes they were grilled just right, and another time, there was just no color on them, and kind of mushy.

Deep-fried squid....tasted ok.

Chicken wings being passed off as karaage.  Tasted good.....good with beer and sake.

Grilled squid - way better than it's deep-fried brethren and awesome with the booze.

I tried a spicy tuna cone, which wasn't bad.  It was packed with tuna, and not loaded with rice. 

Sashimi.....for $15 late night menue, salmon and tuna sashimi is included.  Not too bad.  Of course, my group had to order enough to make the dish look ugly.

My pal Vincent sprinkling lemon juice on the saba, as if he were the Iron Chef himself.

Gomae - not sure if they actually used sesame paste, but there were sesame seeds on it.

Ebi Sunomono - fail.  Two shrimp, and raw noodles.

What cheese sticks were doing on the menu I have no idea. 

Tasted like cheap cheddar wrapped in something then deep-fried.  Sounds gross?  Sounds like something that would just destroy a review?  Not so.  Funny, it was one of the things I liked about the menu.  At that point, I really couldn't have cared if this place was a Japanese restaurant, or a sports bar.  Those cheese sticks make a good drinking snack.  Verdict - go to BC Sushi for the cheese sticks....forget it's a Japanese restaurant.
Of course, those cheese sticks were lonely without the proper amount of alcohol, and so we ordered some of the house sake - Gekeikan, arguably the world's worst sake, but not bad for cooking and cleaning engines. 

Yay, more short ribs....this time, it came with dipping sauce, haha! 

Tamago - run-of-the-mill.

The mango pudding was listed as a desert, but what I found was it's a great palet cleanser.

Ok, so, the place doesn't completely suck, it has AYCE service, I'd say that 75% of the time, the food was okay, and the price wasn't too bad considering it came with sashimi.  Washrooms were filthy, and the kitchen looked minging, but I didn't projectile vomit after eating here so either I was lucky, or you just can't judge appearances.  Authentic?  Forget about it.....I haven't come across an authentic tabehodai place yet.  Compared to other such places?  Well, I'd say it's definitely ahead of places like - (the following are listed in suckage ranking of edible to ultra-crappy)  Tomokazu, Aji-Taro, Shabusen, and Fish on Rice....

Would I go back?  Probably not by choice, but if the rest of the group wanted to go, I doubt I'd make much of a fuss.

B.C. Sushi on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cafe De L'Orangie

Hey cool!  A cafe that serves Japanese family restaurant-style food!  Found this place on Granville near 70th (pretty close to Mr. Pickwick's fish and chips) and had a chance to try it a few weeks ago.  When I walked in, it appeared like most other coffee shops/cafes around town, but have a look at the menu, and there's a bit more to it. 

There's no actual Japanese food on the menu, but there is definitely a heavy Japanese influence.  For example - Hamburger Steak - $10.00.  That's basically hambagu.  Their pasta of the day even says Japanese Style.  For those nit-pickers out there who are always moaning about authentic - yes, the owner is Japanese, and the staff that work there are Japanese.

When I went, the restaurant was pretty quiet.  I suppose it was a good thing because I only saw the proprietor and one other staff working. 

The decor in interesting.

The simple green salad ($4.50 on it's own - but I did a combo...more info below) had a nice mixture of greens, something I don't eat enough of.

They had Pumpkin Soup ($2.99 for small on it's own) which was pretty good.  For $3.00, I made a combo out of my meal which included a soup and salad. 

I ordered the Spaghetti Carbonara ($9.50).  It was the first time I ever had spaghetti carbonara so I have no frame of reference, but what I can say is I liked it.   
Garlic cream sauce, bacon, egg, and parmesan cheese, how can you go wrong?Sounds like a pretty simple dish to make at home, but I was quite happy having someone else do it for me for only $9.50

Hashed Beef with Rice - $8.50.  Another dish that can't miss - beef, gravy, and rice?  It's a no-brainer it's going to taste good, unless you are a really terrible chef.

Cafe De L'Orangie is about as Japanese as you can get for a Japanese style-cafe/family restaurant.  Even the title reminds me of Japan (even though it's French).  The food was great quality, everything was clean, the prices were very reasonable and the service was typical (very polite, food came quickly etc) of any small eatery I visited in Japan.  Off the top of my head, the nearest comparable restaurants would be Yoshoku-ya, and BareFoot Kitchen.

It wasn't very busy when I went, but I can tell when people get wind of this place, is going to get popular and that's going suck because I hate line-ups and I hate waiting.  One glimmer of hope is the location, in Marpole, kind of tucked away in the corner so it might not get so bad.  Sorry, that's just me being selfish - I hope the place does well.

Cafe de l'Orangerie on Urbanspoon

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