Thursday, August 25, 2011

Kent's Kitchen

I could have sworn I posted this review, but I must have forgotten, haha!  A few weeks ago, I did another Chinatown tour, this time with my parents.  The primary reason for this tour was Kent's Kitchen.  This place has probably been around since before I was born.  I remember my dad telling me a story of him taking my mom there when they were dating and the place terrified her, haha!  Okay, so the place is a bit of a dive, but since I've been going there since I was little, I guess I'm used to it.

You step into the place and it's like travelling through time, nothing has changed for at least the last 15 years. They try to keep the dining area more or less clean, but I would strongly recommend NOT using the restroom.

In this picture, the place seems empty, but damn this place gets a lot of traffic, including transient and junkie traffic.  If that kind of thing makes your stomach queasy, go elsewhere for your fine dining experience.

The folks in the kitchen have got to be some of the hardest working people I have EVER seen.  I remember even eating in the kitchen once when the front end was full, haha!  I've done some hard labour in the past, and I know what it's like to be on your feet all day, but these guys were non-stop cooking, and frying and tossing, one dish after another, just churning out the food.

They had turkey drumsticks, something I've never seen here before.  I didn't try it.

I didn't take a picture of the tea dispenser, but I did get a shot of their soup pot.  Chinese soup, free, all you can drink.  Haha, I've even seen people come in, not buy any food and just help themselves to the soup.  I'm not usually a big fan of Chinese style soup, but this stuff I can drink.  They have a massive vat of this stuff boiling away and I have to admit, it's not too bad. 

As a kid, I used to exclusively get sweet and sour pork, and black bean spare ribs on either fried rice or chow mein, but it seems like they've discontinued the black bean spare ribs.  This time I got the beef brisket and sweet and sour pork on white rice.  There was a mountain of food for less than $5.00.  Prices haven't gone up very much in recent years, and I remember two items on rice used to go for about $3.75...and that was probably more than 15 years ago.  It had been a while since my last visit, but just writing this post has got me thinking about when I'm going to visit again!

Kent's Kitchen 權記外賣小菜館 (Chinatown) on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sockeye City Grill

I first heard of this place from Janice, over at Good Eat, and at first I thought I'd never been to this place, but then soon realized, I'd been here when it was under another name.  I think it was once known as Dave's on the Pier or something like that.  As I recall, my experience during that time was absolutely pathetic.  The place was dead, and we were literally the only customers in there.  We ordered the fish and chips, and ended up getting two measily slabs of Captain Highliner or possibly even Kirkland's (Costco's generic brand) frozen fish.  They were fish bits re-assembled into a mold and I swear they looked exactly like these:
Either they ran out of regular fish, or the company was planning on closing and never bothered to restock their inventory.  Either way, it sucked @$$ and they charged more than Dave's Fish and Chips on Moncton.  I swore I'd never return, but it seems that they must have changed owners because any number of times, I'd walk by this restaurant and I never saw what I ate that one time.  The fish always looked, well, real.  Never again, did I see the instant fish sticks that I had the day I went.  Besides that, this place was packed.  I guess it might have had something do with a pier that was packed full of tourists.

There were a lot of people standing around the entrance, and by the take out window, the patio was packed and the inside of the restaurant looked busy as well.  I was expecting a long wait time, but we got seated in less than 10 minutes.  The person at reception was proibably a highschool student or something, working a part-time job because she clearly hated her job and anyone approached her.  It didn't give me a good impression of the place, and when I walked in, I certainly didn't get the impression of a place of fine-dining.  The decor was very 1993 and definitely had not changed since the last time I went here, even though it was under different ownership at the time. 
I almost want to say the view of the harbour was spectacular, especially on a hot sunny day, but I grew up in Richmond, and I've seen this view about a million times,

I think they're trying for the fine-dining, but it just doesn't make it.  The bound menu and the linen are a nice touch, but when you open your eyes to the rest of the restaurant, it's not quite there.
When our meals came, the first thing that popped into my mind was tacky plates, and the fish is a little smallish isn't it?  The prices at Sockey City Grill certainly aren't competitive, and I was a little disappointed with the portions.  It looked like they even skimped on the fries.  I ordered the Oysters and Chips and the oysters were tasty, but tiny.  We're not talkin the large oysters you can get at T & T for less about $1 something each, these were more the smaller $0.79 ones.  The fries were okay....I wonder if they were made in house (I doubt it) and the coleslaw had raisins in it.  The tartar sauce was good (had garlic in it), but the presentation was cheap...just a very small plastic cup.  $17 for 4 smallish oysters and a pile of unseasoned fries.  Good dip though. 

The two peice cod and chips will set you back $14, and size-wise, they weren't very far off the mark from Captain Highliner's Fish Sticks.  These guys were definitely overbattered to make up for their shortcomings in the meat department.  We definitely got the bottom of the barrel here. 

I tried to make the fish and oysters look massive in the pictures, but I don't think I was able too.  Anyway, complaints about the food, decor and some of the service aside, Sockeye City Grill did have one saving grace.  Our server James, who happened to be the manager, provided phenominal service.  He was friendly, attentive, and made sure were were comfortable and okay at all times.  I'm pretty sure he had no idea I was there to blog about the place, but regardless, he was really good.  Someone like him could definely do better as a professional server, because Sockeye City Grill might be too far gone to save.  They count on tourist $$, and when the pier is packed and there's nowhere else to go, they will definitely get customers, but the place could be so much better.  James, if you're reading this, excellent service, my kudos to you.  A few suggestions:  Telll the owner to figure out if they want to go high-end or family restaurant.....make up their minds!  If they wanna go high end, the place desperately needs a reno.  The prices are high-end, but the food ain't.  Either slash prices, or more fish for the $$.  Oh yeah, get rid of the receptionist pictured above, she's a waste of space.

Sockeye City Grill on Urbanspoon

Sushi King revisited

Haha, this is the month of revisits!  I really should get out there and try some new stuff....apologies to my readers (as if I have a huge following, lol!) for boring you to death with the same routine.  I'm pretty sure I mentioned it before, but Sushi King is one of our regular stops after practice on Friday nights.  I used to go with everyone religiously until Marpole Community Centre shifted the schedule to Wednesday nights.  But I hear classes will be back to Friday nights in the fall, so looks like I'll be going back more often!

I took my parents here a week ago and the maanger Cindy was soo good to's nothing new, because she's always great, but this time, she knew my parents were with me, so she really made sure they were comfortable.  My parents left very happy with everything from the food to the service. 

The salad comes with artificial crab meat, but it still tasted great.  Throw in some avacados and mayo and you got yourself a California roll salad!  Their dressing is made in house and is perfect for any green salad.  I wish they sold it.
I ordered up some sashimi for my parents (I usually stick to the nigiri or maki sushi here) and they were quite happy with the freshness and portions. 

And instead of the regular miso soup, I got them something different.  The bowl was practically full of clams, each one was as tender as ever and it wasn't a fight to get the meat out.  I think it should be illegal to serve miso soup without clams in it, haha!
I also ordered a few of my usual favourites - spicy tuna roll (Yup, I'm still quite addicted to this creation that will probably never be found in Japan), toro, saba, unagi, hotate, ikura, and botan-ebi. 

It's hard to tell in the pic, but the botan-ebi comes with the head.  It doesn't usually because most people don't really appreciate the stuff inside ebi heads, but I make sure I ask, and it comes. 
My mom loves tempura, so we ordered an assortment of that as well.  Their tempura sauce isn't quite right, but it works.  It's more like sweetened tonkatsu sauce, but like I said, it ain't bad. 
I happened to really like broccoli tempura.  I don't eat enough greens and I know this isn't the best method of getting your daily does of veggies, but hey, it's better than nothing!

Sushi King is still the best bang for your buck.  I'm not sure about other locations, but the location on Granville has my loyalty because of the consistent excellent customer service (Thanks Cindy), the rest of the staff and the chef of course.  I look forward to September when we'll probably end up visiting every Friday!

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