HK B.B.Q. Master

Restaurant: HK BBQ Master
Cuisine: Chinese
Area: Richmond
Address: 4651 No.  3 Road
Parking: Private Parking (Superstore)
Phone: (604)272-6568
Hours of Operation: 11:00 am – 8:00 pm everyday except for Wednesdays

*CASH ONLY

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent

Have you ever been to the Saturday Organic Market in Richmond? Apparently, the UNFI Canada, which is a natural and organic food distributor in Richmond, holds wholesale sale of soon-to-be-expiring inventory every Saturday from 9am to 2pm (click here for more details). I found out about this place from my coworker who gave me this yummy organic granola bar she got from there and she told me she got it for 50 cents each!  I had to get more of these so I woke up early in the morning on Saturday and headed to the market!! Well…too bad for me….they weren’t selling those granola bars that day…..darn it…I went there just to get those granola bars….. Well, what am I going to do now that I am in Richmond? I guess I’ll just go eat then…..lol

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I’ve been wanting to try HK BBQ Master for a quite long time now but I never got the chance to because my restaurant wish list has got super long everyday with so many suggestions from people! HK BBQ Master is hidden in the parkade of Richmond Superstore but has received so much rave for their BBQ meats.  I think we were lucky because we didn’t have to wait for a table and seated right away. Most of the customers were doing take outs rather than dining in. We decided to order the soup, Roasted Pork, BBQ Pork, and BBQ Duck on this visit.

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Soup of the Day – 2.5/5 

  • $2.00
  • It was served super burning HOT!
  • I was glad we got this soup because it definitely helped me digest all these fatty meats.
  • I asked what kind of soup it is and the waitress said vegetable soup so I guess that’s what it is!

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Roasted Pork– 4/5 

  • $8.50
  • Wow! It was really fatty and tender while the skin was nice and crispy.
  • This was definitely the highlight for me but I don’t think I can finish this all by myself.
  • In my opinion, I thought the portion was very generous too!

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BBQ Pork – 3/5 

  • $7.50
  • You’ll be asked if you want fat, medium, or lean when you order this.
  • We got medium but as soon as I put a piece into my mouth, I knew we should have ordered the fatty part!
  • It still tasted pretty good but I just preferred more tenderness.

 

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BBQ Duck– 3.5/5 

  • $8.50
  • I thought the duck would be quite tough but surprisingly, it was pretty tender!
  • The skin had nice smokey taste while the meat was juicy.

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I definitely want to come back here and try their BBQ pork again and ask for fatty part next time. Their soya sauce chicken also looked really good! Overall, HK Master BBQ serves generous portion of good quality meat and the service is really quick and efficient (Asian style services lol)! I need to inform you that they only take cash so be aware! A lot of people claim that this is the best Chinese BBQ meat shop out there but I don’t know if it is the best…. So, I guess I’ll need to try other places in town to decide that!

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Black Rice Izakaya

Restaurant: Black Rice Izakaya
Cuisine: Japanese
Area: Yaletown
Address: 782 Cambie Street
Parking: Street Parking
Phone: (778)379-0416
Hours of Operation: Mon-Thurs 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm, Fri 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, 5:00 pm – 12:00 am, Sat-Sun 3:00 pm – 11:00 pm

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent

Urbanspoon is going to be gone…the end of urbanspoon…… All my friends know how much I love Urbanspoon! I literally open my Urbanspoon app at least 10 times a day… It’s like the most used app on my iphone. A lot of you, who are frequent Urbanspoon users, may have noticed that the Indian based company called Zomato has taken over Urbanspoon and they are phasing out Urbanspoon completely really soon!! I was really shocked and saddened by this unfortunate news…. until few days ago when CC and I were contacted by Zomato for a coffee meeting. Sophia, an adorable and super energetic representative of Zomato, kindly presented us how the new Zomato app works and to be honest, it was AWESOME! They still kept the best features of the Urbanspoon but added a lot more new super cool features on top of it! We were both really excited to use the new app! Anyways, we were really hungry by the time the meeting was over so we decided to go for a dinner in that area. Of course, we both opened Urbanspoon app on our phones and began searching for a new restaurant to try!

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CC found this newly opened Izakaya on Cambie and we decided to give a try! Black Rice Izakaya is a Korean owned Japanese restaurant opened about a month ago. When we entered the restaurant, there was no other customers but us. As for their ambiance, it had a very nice modern vibe to it. The waitress seated us at a table and explained few of their featured menu for us. We started off ordering few things off their menu. The very unique things about this restaurant is that they make their own special soy sauce and it tasted really good!

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Shrimp Cream Croquette– 2.5/5 

  • $8.95
  • It was served with 2 pieces of croquettes.
  • The croquettes were decent but I would prefer them to be creamier and smoother, without giving that “not fully cooked” texture.

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Ebi Shinjo– 4/5 

  • $9.95
  • Deep fried breaded chopped black tiger prawn and squid with J-sauce
  • Quantity-wise, definitely pretty small for the price (but then again, tiger prawns are really expensive).
  • It was pretty meaty and quite flavorful.

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Shoyu Zuke Salmon (2pc)– 3/5 

  • $3.90
  • Soy sauce marinated salmon nigiri
  • The marinated salmon tasted decent but the rice was bit hard.

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Aburi Hamachi (2pc)– 3.5/5 

  • $5.50
  • The seared hamachi were very good.
  • They were seared just right and the radish and sauce went really well with them.
  • but then again, the rice was bit disappointing.

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Black Angus (2pc)– 3.5/5 

  • $5.80
  • The chef personally came out and seared the black angus nigiri for us.
  • It was seared to about medium rare and served with a bit of mustard and yuzu on the side.
  • Black Angus beef were tender and seared to perfection.
  • The price was reasonable too but again, we had to deduct 0.5 for the rice.

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Black Rice Roll– 4/5 

  • $8.99
  • Pacific black cod, avocado, cream cheese rolled in black rice.
  • It was interesting roll as it had black cod inside.
  • The cream cheese and the deep fried black cod went very well together.

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Tataki Rainbow Roll– 3/5 

  • $10.99
  • Smoked salmon, cucumber, asparagus, crab meat with tataki sockeye, salmon, albacore on top.
  • Although it says tataki, we didn’t feel it was very much seared. I guess it was really lightly seared.
  • All the fish were fresh and the sauce on top was tasty.

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Frozen Grape – Complimentary 

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Feeling guilty eating all these food without my hubby, I decided to take some food out for him and here are the food I got:

Chicken Karaage Donburi (Take Out) – 3/5 

  • $7.99
  • Rice bowl with deep fried marinated chicken
  • The marinated chicken was well prepared
  • Quality-wise, it was just okay for me.

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Ebi Tartar Roll (Take out) – 2.5/5 

  • $11.25
  • Deep fried breaded prawn, radish sprout, sweet bell pepper, avocado with sesame topping, and tartar sauce on top.
  • This roll was suggested by our waitress.
  • Personally, I thought it was a bit overpriced for what it is.
  • It was okay but nothing spectacular.

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Overall, Black Rice Izakaya was surprisingly good discovery for us as most of their menu are carefully prepared and tasted pretty good! We loved how they made their own specialized soy sauce. We would definitely want to come back and try their other menu options such as box sushi and ishiyaki rice bowls. Our waitress also suggested us to come back during their lunch time to try their teishoku menu as they are suppose to be really good! Black Rice Izakaya definitely has potential and we hope to come back really soon!

Black Rice on Urbanspoon

Hachibei

Restaurant: Hachibei
Cuisine: Japanese
Area: Fairview
Address: 778 W 16th Avenue
Parking: Street Parking
Phone: (604)879-3357
Hours of Operation: Mon-Sat 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent

When I first moved to Canada, I remember being asked if I ate Sushi and Sashimi everyday growing up in Japan……I mean I can’t really blame people for having this kind of misconception (Japanese food =  sushi and sashimi) when Vancouver has more sushi joints than Starbucks. Obviously, my answer was no. Japanese people don’t eat raw fish as their regular meal. I remember eating sushi on special occasions or had to settle for cheap kaiten sushi (conveyor belt sushi) if we found ourselves craving for sushi. Another huge misconception is that people automatically think rolls when we talk about sushi. In Japan, people don’t eat rolls…well, more accurately…rolls in Japan are more simple rolls such as tuna maki. So, please don’t expect California roll and Dynmite roll if you happen to go to a sushi joint in Japan. Anyways, what I’m trying to say here is that there are a lot more to Japanese cuisine than just sushi!

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Hachibei in Fairview is a restaurant I visit, time to time, when I feel like eating home-style Japanese comfort food. Sure, they have sushi here too but I don’t usually order sushi when I’m here. I go for Teishoku which means a set meal in Japanese. The restaurant is relatively small and it does get packed easily especially on weekends. If I only knew I was going to start this blog..I would have saved all the pictures of what I ordered in my previous visits….what a waste of all these years of food exploring. But Hey! Starting fresh means I get to re-visit all those restaurants again! On this visit to Hachibei, we did not order much (ordered about the amount what a normal couple would order lol) because, believe it or not, I’m on DIET (well…kind of….)!
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Spicy Tuna Sashimi– 2.5/5 

  • $6.95
  • This was from their a la carte menu.
  • Quantity-wise, definitely pretty small for the price.
  • Quality-wise, it was just okay for me.

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Chicken Karaage– 3.5/5 

  • $6.95
  • Japanese deep fried chicken
  • Nicely deep fried with crispy outside and juicy inside

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Oyako Don– 3.5/5 

  • $8.75
  • Chicken, onion, beaten egg on rice
  • Oyako means “parent-child” in Japanese and this donburi is called Oyako don because it’s chicken and egg!
  • Personally, I would prefer more runny eggs on top for my Oyako don but it tasted pretty good!

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Tonkatsu Teishoku– 3.5/5 

  • $15.50
  • Breaded pork cutlet served with cabbage, mashed potato, rice, miso soup, and Japanese pickles
  • Personally, I love the tonkatsu from Kingyo’s lunch menu but my hubby prefers this simple home-style tonkatsu.
  • It is definitely well prepared home-style tonkatsu with crispy exterior but juicy on the inside.

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At Hachibei, you can truly experience what a normal everyday meal would be in Japan. In my previous visit, I’ve tried their deep fried oyster teishoku, grilled fish, gyoza, battera, and some sushi. They have decent sushi too but I would definitely stick with their comfort foods  because that’s what they do the best in my opinion!

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KimBab CheonGuk

Restaurant: KimBab CheonGuk
Cuisine: Korean
Area: Coquitlam- Lougheed
Address: Unit A-341 North Road
Parking: Mall Parking
Phone: (604) 936-0222
Hours of Operation: Mon-Fri 9:00am – 8:00pm; Sat 9:00am – 9:00pm; Sun 9:00am – 4:00pm

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent

It has been about a year and half since I moved to Surrey and I can say that I am pretty much satisfied with my life here. Especially with Hannam Supermarket and the new Guildford Town Centre being very close to where I live, I can get most of my shopping done (if not everything) without having to cross the bridge. I also find that Surrey has a good variety of different ethnic restaurants as well, but still no place to have some good KimBab and DdeokBokKi; the only option for me here would be the ones from Hannam, which are not too bad either but their DdeoBokKi is just not good at all, at least to my taste.

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KimBab CheonGuk is a good representation of typical Korean BunSikJibs, where BunSik dishes like DeokBokKi, KimBab, RaMyun, Mandoo, Fish Cakes and more are sold. In Korea, BunSikJibs are known for their large portions and affordable prices. It is fairly common to find at least one or two of them in school areas, and these BunSikJibs are always packed with students after school- boys to feed their hungry soul and girls to spend time with friends, gossiping about teachers and other girls from different classes or schools. I guess that is why BunSikJibs still remain quite popular among adults; they not only are quick and affordable but also take us back to the old days.

Until KimBab CheonGuk was opened, there was no Korean restaurant doing BunSiks and even until now, KimBab CheonGuk is one of the few BunSikJibs found in Metro Vancouver.

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Beef Bone Broth

  • Complimentary
  • Could be the Dashida (Korean instant beef soup stock) taste but I just love this
  • Have this while hot with your KimBabs

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DanMooJi (Pickled radish) 

  • Complimentary
  • Just normal ones that you would find at any Korean supermarkets
  • A must-have for Koreans when eating noodles like JjaJyangMyeon, RaMyeon, and Udon (My mom even brings them to Pho places)
  • I personally prefer the white ones, as those are made without yellow food colouring but it is not really a matter here

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Tuna KimBab – 4/5

  • $3.50
  • Canned tuna, mayo, carrots, cucumbers, egg, and yellow pickled radish
  • Those who like soft-textured foods would prefer this over other Kimbabs
  • Crispy seaweed with right amount of sesame oil
  • Well-cooked rice with well-seasoned ingredients
  • Usually very busy, hence just like shown here, often find some Kimbabs not rolled tightly as they should be. As long as they deliver the expected flavor, I personally do not really mind seeing some gaps in my Kimbab.

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Regular KimBab – 3.5/5

  • $2.99
  • Carrots, cucumbers, fish cake, burdock, egg, and yellow pickled radish
  • Solid basic Kimbab with crunchy vegetables
  • Crispy seaweed with right amount of sesame oil
  • Well-cooked rice with well-seasoned ingredients

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SoonDae – 3/5

  • Korean sausage- pork intestine stuffed with pork blood and glass noodles (traditionally)
  • It may sound gross to some people but once you try them, you would not find them gross anymore
  • Very moist and soft; outer layer is not too chewy, which I like
  • I am not sure if these are traditionally made Soondaes, but these have very mild to none Soondae flavor…

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RaBokKi – 4/5

  • $7.50
  • Rice cakes, cabbages, onions, fish cakes, instant noodle, boiled egg
  • I prefer their Rabokki over Ddeokbokki
  • Sauce is on the sweeter side due to added cabbages and onions but also from the extra sugar added- similar to what you can find in typical Bunsikjibs in Korea
  • Rice cakes have well absorbed the sauce, and are soft and chewy
  • Good amount of fish cakes, cabbages and onions
  • They include a boiled egg, which I always crush and roughly mix into the sauce as I did here

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Some Koreans would like to dip their Soondaes or Kimbabs in Ddeokbokki/Rabokki sauce, and some would not. I recommend you try both ways and find out which group you are in! :)

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As their name (KimBab Heaven) states, their main items would be KimBabs and personally I think they have the best KimBabs in Metro Vancouver. What makes this place better is that their regular meal options are mostly good as well. If you crave for cold noodles, but ChoSun BBQ Korean Restaurant would be a farther option for you, try them here and you will be satisfied (not offered during Winter, and you may have to adjust the sweetness by adding extra sugar available on each table). KimBab CheonGuk is a great place for people of all ages and the best place to take out some tasty KimBabs.

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Tokyo Thyme

Restaurant: Tokyo Thyme
Cuisine: Japanese
Area: Vancouver West
Address: 5405 West Blvd
Parking: Street Parking
Phone: (604)263-3262
Hours of Operation: Mon-Fri 11:00 am – 8:00 pm, Sat 11:30 am – 8:30 pm

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent

About couples years ago, we drove all the way to Kerrisdale to eat at one of our favorite Japanese restaurants called Ajisai, only to find out it was closed…..we were like…oh no…what are we going to do with this major sushi craving? I even made up a sushi song on the way here (that’s how much I was excited!). So, I took out my iphone and began searching for an alternative Japanese Restaurant in that area. I found out that Tokyo Thyme was only a few minutes walk from there and it has been in my wish list for the longest time so we thought this is a good chance to try them out! And what a surprise! We made the right choice by visiting Tokyo Thyme because it turned out to be a real hidden gem! After my first visit, I still continue to return here time to time and their food is always good!

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Tokyo Thyme is a fairy small restaurant located on West Blvd but I’ve never had to wait for a table. They have a lot of menu options and I wanted to try them all! As usual, I started ordering whole bunch of things and the waitress warned me that it would be too much (I often get this warning lol)! Despite of this friendly warning, I assured her that we would be able to finish them and I continued to order all the things I had to eat that day. Curious of how much I ordered for the two of us? Please scroll down to see!!

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Red and White Tuna Stack– 3.5/5 

  • $15.50
  • Tower of red and white tuna, yamaimo, avocado, served with sushi rice and seaweed for wrapping; add quail egg for 50 cents
  • First of all, you have to smash down this really well presented tower and mix them a bit (I felt so guilty!). 
  • Then, take a sheet of nori (seaweed) and put a thin layer of sushi rice to cover the one side of the nori.
  • Place the mixed tuna onto the rice covered nori and wrap it up to eat!
  • The tuna tasted really fresh and it’s a fun way of eating your sushi!

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House Special Sunomono (half order)– 4/5 

  • Crab, prawn, smoked salmon, yamaimo, avocado, tamago, wrapped in cucumber.
  • Don’t expect the normal sunomono because it is nothing like it!
  • I would categorize this dish as a roll rather than a sunomono but it was really yummy and was very light and fresh because there was no rice!

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Sesame Crusted Tuna Steak– 4/5 

  • $13.50
  • Seared tuna covered in black and white sesame, served with spicy sauce on a bed of mesclun green
  • It was like a tuna tataki but with sesame crusted exterior!
  • They were evenly seared and came with green and yellowish tobiko eggs which went well together.

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Nigiri Sushi (Toro– 4/5,  Saba– 4/5, Amaebi– 3/5, Tamago– 4/5, Chopped Scallop– 3.5/5)

  • Starting from left top: Toro $3.25, Saba $2.00, Amaebi $3.50, Tamago $1.75, Chopped Scallop $2.50
  • Their toro nigiri melted in my mouth and I was also impressed with how delicate the saba nigiri (the best saba nigiri I’ve had was from Sushi Bar Shyun though).
  • Overall, I was really pleased with all the nigiri sushi I tasted here. The only small complain would be rice being a bit plain (I’m a bit picky when it comes to nigiri sushi)!

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Unagi Cheese Roll– 3/5 , Ika Tobiko Shiso Roll– 3/5 , Tekka Maki– 3/5 

  • Starting from your left: Unagi Cheese Roll $5.50, Ika Tobiko Shiso Roll $4.25, Tekka Maki $3.00
  • Unagi Cheese Roll: BBQ eel, cream cheese, cucumber (BBQ eel and cream cheese just go really good together!)
  • Ika Tobiko Shiso Roll: squid, flying fish roe, shiso (This roll had all the ingredients I love!)
  • Tekka Maki: tuna roll (excelling a basic roll like this can really represent the skill of the chef)

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Peppered Tuna Roll– 3/5 

  • $5.75
  • Seared tuna, black pepper, avocado, kaiware, shiso
  • It was simple roll and was just okay for me.

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Spring Wave Roll– 3.5/5 

  • $16.50
  • Smoke salmon, prawn, and avocado on top; unagi, tamago, shiso, and cream cheese inside
  • All the ingredients tasted fresh and carefully executed.

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Indian Summer Roll– 4/5 

  • $18.50
  • BBQ unagi and avocado on top; BBQ unagi, green bean tempura inside
  • The unagi was perfectly cooked and the deep fried green bean gave pleasant crispiness!

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Green Tea Mochi Icecream with Azuki Caramel  – 4.5/5 

  • $4.50
  • I’m not really a dessert person but I would come back just for this!
  • I’ve always loved the mochi icecream but the highlight of this dish is the azuki (red bean) caramel!
  • I’m super impressed of how they made this azuki so smooth and delicate!

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Overall, I really enjoy dining at Tokyo Thyme because it serves really creative, yet carefully prepared Japanese Cuisine. The price is definitely on the higher side but the quality makes up for it in my opinion. I’m surprised that this place is not that busy compared to its neighboring Japanese Restaurant in Kerrisdale, Ajisai. I wouldn’t say one is better than another because I think they are good in their own way and I would definitely recommend Tokyo Thyme!

Tokyo Thyme on Urbanspoon

Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria

Restaurant: Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria
Cuisine: Italian
Area: Surrey- Morgan Crossing
Address: Pad 3 -15865 Croydon Dr.
Parking: Mall Parking
Phone: (604) 560-9544
Hours of Operation: Sun-Thurs 11:00am – 11:00pm; Fri-Sat 11:00am – midnight

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent

It was such a beautiful sunny day that I decided to head out to Morgan Crossing with one of my best friends (yes, not UG). Since I live in Surrey, driving to Morgan Crossing once in awhile is not too bad. My craving for Chocolate Chai Fog from Mink Chocolates Cafe is usually what brings me here. So before making my friend also fall in love with the chai fog, we decided to have a quick lunch at Famoso.

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Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria currently has three locations in Lower Mainland- Commercial Drive (Vancouver), Morgan Crossing (Surrey), and High Street (Abbotsford), but a fourth location is soon to be open in Guildford Town Centre, just below Milestones. Woo!

Anyways, the restaurant has special ordering procedures and the steps are explained on the order sheets. Basically when you sit down at a table, menus, order sheets and a pencil are already on your table; you just write down what you would want on the sheet and take it up to the counter to place your order. You do not have to wait at the counter until your food is ready nor come back to pick them up. Your server will bring everything to you and take your dishes away once you are done; after placing an order it is just like any other restaurants.

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Gorgonzola Walnut Salad – 2.5/5

  • $8 for starter size
  • Romaine lettuce, Gorgonzola cheese, walnuts, semi-dried cranberries, Gorgonzola walnut vinaigrette
  • Fairly basic salad made with fresh ingredients, nothing special
  • Somewhat lacking in flavor

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Funghi – 4/5

  • $14.75
  • Parmesan crema, fior-di-latte, roasted white mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, caramelized onions, white truffle oil, pecorino romano
  • Sweetness from caramelized onions worked well with sharp and salty flavor of pecorino romano
  • Generous amount of toppings but a little less generosity may enhance sophistication in flavor
  • Chewy and flavorful dough, not soggy but wished it was a little crispier

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Don Andreas – 2.5/5

  • $15.25
  • Creme Fraiche, fior-di-latte, roasted chicken, corn and chipotle salsa, avocado, chopped cilantro, lime wedge, side of Valentina hot sauce
  • Nice to try something different and unusual
  • Fresh ingredients but did not seem to be blending with each other that well
  • Again, a little less generosity on toppings may enhance sophistication in flavor as well as help the dough remain crispy while placed on the table

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Dolce & Banana – 4/5

  • $9.00
  • Caramelized, oven-roasted bananas, crushed pecans, caramel sauce, vanilla bean gelato
  • A combination of vanilla gelato with warm and sweet bananas cannot go wrong
  • Maybe a little more gelato and less bananas would help balance the overall sweetness

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This was my first visit to this particular location but in terms of general ambiance and overall food, I prefer this location over the Commercial Drive location. Although on this day, our ‘quick lunch’ was not really a ‘quick’ one after all, Famoso would be a great place to have a quick and/or casual meal with friends and family. If you don’t mind eating outside, I would also recommend sitting in their patio (heated during colder seasons).

Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria (Morgan Crossing) on Urbanspoon

Jin Soo Sung Chan Korean Restaurant

Restaurant: Jin Soo Sung Chan Korean Restaurant
Cuisine: Korean
Area: Surrey
Address: 10312 152A  Street
Parking: Private Parking 
Phone: (604)498-3177
Hours of Operation: Mon-Sun 11:00am – 11:00pm

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent

Growing up, I was never really fan of Korean food. Maybe it had something to do with the fact I grew up in Japan and I was not really used to eating bold flavors of Korean food. I remember how my mom used to wash off all the spices off from my kimchi before giving it to me or else I’d cry like a baby. She also made Tteokbokki (hot and spicy rice cake), which is a popular Korean snack, into two separate flavors: one with regular spicy flavor and one with soy sauce based flavor just for me. I hated spicy food and I didn’t understand why my mom continued to feed me all these spicy foods nonetheless. I know I know.. I was such a picky eater as a child but guess what, my mom’s effort really paid off! One day, believe it or not, that strong stinky smell of kimchi suddenly smelled so delicious to me! That’s all it took for me to fall in love with kimchi. After overcoming my objections to kimchi, I slowly started to eat all other spicy foods. In my opinion, Korean food is an acquired taste. But once you like it (like I have), you have discovered another great cuisine of the world.

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Jin Soo Sung Chan Korean Restaurant is a great place to discover different flavors of Korean food because they have various set course menus. For those of you wondering what “Jin Soo Sung Chan” means, it means sumptuous meal in Korean. These course menu let you sample little bit of everything (well, not EVERYTHING but many) so it would be a good place for inexperienced Korean food eaters to discover what they may like from various Korean dishes. On this day, we decided to get traditional Korean set course menu B which is $25.95 per person (minimum order is 2 person).

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Hobakjuk (Korean Pumpkin Porridge)– 3/5 

  • Pumpkin porridge is popular snack or light meal for Koreans especially during the cold winter.
  • It was subtly sweet and nice way to calm down my hunger before food gets ready.

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Banchan (Korean Side Dish)  

  • Korean restaurants almost always serve you complimentary side dishes and you can refill them for FREE.
  • If you’ve ever dined out at a Korean restaurant in Korea, you’re sure to have been served with more variety of these complimentary side dishes but these are typical selections for most Korean restaurants in Vancouver.
  • My favorite is the glazed potato side dish. I always end up getting refill of it even before I start eating my main dishes….

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House Green Salad – 3/5 

  • Simple green salad covered with refreshing sweet and sour Asian salad dressing.

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 Jellyfish with garlic sauce – 2.5/5 

  • Jellyfish? It may sound exotic to some but chilled jellyfish is actually pretty popular in Asia.
  • Jellyfish was mixed with thinly sliced cucumber, red bell pepper, and imitation crab stick.
  • I love the chewy and crunchy texture of jellyfish
  • The sauce is garlic based and the yellow mustard is usually added for that extra kick but I found they added little too much of it.

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Seasoned Mung Bean Jelly – 3/5 

  • I love mung bean jelly! It is easy to cook and also a refreshing dish during the hot summer.
  • It was lightly seasoned and served with seaweeds and thinly sliced egg omelette.

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Beef Sashimi, marinated raw beef with house special seasonings – 3/5 

  • I am obsessed with beef sashimi.
  • Korean beef sashimi is usually mixed with thinly sliced Asian pear.
  • It was mildly marinated and was just okay for me.

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Japchae, Glass noodles with Sauteed Vegetables – 3/5 

  • It is a Korean dish made from sweet potato noodles, stir fried in sesame oil with vegetables,  served with beef, and flavoured with soy sauce, and sweetened with sugar.
  • Japchae is considered pretty healthy food!
  • It was served warm and was lightly flavored.

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Seafood and Green Onion Pancake – 3/5 

  • Mini version of seafood pancake.
  • I love seafood pancake! It is such an easy-to-make menu too!
  • It had nice crispy exterior and had lots of veggies and seafood.

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Skewered Jun & Zucchini Jun – 3/5 

  • The skewered jun had imitation crab stick, ham, and spring onion.
  • We, Koreans, eat these a lot during the lunar new year!
  • This is another super easy-to-make menu! You can’t really mess this up!

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Bossam (Boiled Pork Slices) – 3.5/5 

  • It’s a Korean boiled pork dish where the pork is boiled in flavorful brine until it becomes tender.
  • You can eat the piece of pork with the pickled radish and radish kimchi.
  • The pork was very tender and goes well with the radish!

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Pan-fried squid (spicy pan-fried squid with vegetables) – 3/5 

  • Squid is cut int bite sized pieces and then pan fried with veggies and Korean gochujang.
  • Usually we eat this with rice but this version had rice cake sticks added to it so no need for rice!

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Spicy Deep Fried Chicken  – 3/5 

  • It was translated as spicy deep fried chicken but it’s not really spicy!
  • It is basically deep fried chicken glazed in sweet and spicy sauce.
  • You normally find this dish sold in Korean-Chinese restaurants.

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Braised Short Beef Ribs – 3.5/5 

  • It’s a classic Korean comfort food served with sweet and savory sauce.
  • The beef ribs are cooked for long time so that they become super tender.
  • It was tasted good! I love to pour the left over sauce onto my rice. Yum!

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 Soybean Paste Stew – 3/5 

  • Soybean paste stew or doenjang jjigae in Korean is made with fermented miso paste.
  • Korean miso is chunky saltier soybean paste than the ones from Japan.
  • It’s a hearty soup with tofu, zucchini, onions, and mushrooms.

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Stone Bowl Cooked Rice 

  • Rice always taste better when it is cooked in dolsot or stone bowl!

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Champong (Spicy Seafood Noodle) – 2.5/5 

  • $8.95
  • This was not part of the set menu. We order this separately.
  • It somehow tasted a bit creamy which I didn’t mind but I don’t know about other Korean people…

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 Dessert (Ice Cream) 

  • Tiny vanilla ice cream served as dessert at the end of your meal!

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Jin Soo Sung Chan served definitely solid food and I found the price reasonable considering the amount you get. I would highly recommend this place for those who love to eat little bit of everything or for those who are trying Korean food for the first time so that you can find out which dish you like. Nothing wowed me but I would definitely say all their dishes were pretty decent compared to many Korean restaurants in Lower Mainland!

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Mean Poutine

Restaurant: Mean Poutine
Cuisine: Poutine/Hot Dog/Fast Food
Area: Downtown
Address: 718 Nelson Street
Parking: Street Parking
Phone: (604)568-4351
Hours of Operation: Mon-Sat 11:00am – 4:00am

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent

Have you ever slept for 20 hours straight? Well, I just did! When I finally woke up, my hubby was like “are you sure you’re human?” I don’t know what happened to me but I was really feeling tired throughout the week with all the things I had to manage at work. Besides, I was having a sweetest dream (featuring hot guys) so I guess I didn’t want to wake up lol. Let me tell you, I sleep a lot sometimes but I think this is the longest I’ve ever slept in my life and it wasn’t all that good. I had a major headache afterwards. Anyways, hubby was starving to death waiting for me to wake up. He said he has a craving for poutine so we decided to try Mean Poutine on Nelson which is open until 4:00 am.
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Mean Poutine is a take-out window serving poutines and hot dogs. There is a small counter on the left hand side where people can stand and eat. We decided to get the Fried Chicken Poutine, the Mama’s Italian Meatballs Poutine, and the Mac and Cheese Dog (As always, our eyes are bigger than our stomachs).

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Mac and Cheese Dog – 3/5 

  • $7
  • Classic hot dog topped with macaroni and cheese
  • It was a big hot dog with simply sausage and mac & cheese on top.
  • Nothing too special, just as you would expect it.

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Fried Chicken Poutine – 3.5/5 

  • $9
  • Crispy fries, brown gravy, fresh cheese curds, buffalo chicken chunks
  • Fried chicken here was pretty decent with nice crispy exterior.
  • It came with quite a lot of quantity that we were not able to finish it.

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Mama’s Italian Meatball Poutine – 3/5 

  • $9
  • Crispy fires, brown gravy, freh cheese curds, italian meatballs, sauteed mushrooms, grilled onions.
  • It came with generous amount of toppings but I wasn’t fan of these Italian meatballs.

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Overall, Mean Poutine is a good place to go if you are looking for late night snack as they are open super late (although some reviews mentioned that they don’t stick to their posted hours). You may find the price to be a bit on higher side but the portion size makes up for it. It could have been nicer if we ate them right at the counter instead of taking them back to our place as fries weren’t very crispy when we got home. I would try them again when I have a craving late at night as this place is only 5 minutes walking distance from my place but I don’t think I will be returning here anytime soon.

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Rajio

Restaurant: Rajio
Cuisine: Japanese Izakaya
Area: Kitslano
Address: 3763 10th Avenue
Parking: Street Parking
Phone: (604)558-1679
Hours of Operation: Sun-Thurs 5:30pm – 11:30pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm – 12:00am

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent

Getting older is no longer fun….I wish this would be my last birthday so that I can stay 28 forever……For me, the only exciting thing about birthdays nowadays is that I get to go and EAT! It’s a perfect excuse to explorer new restaurants because I get to go out on multiple dinners (with different groups of friends) and order bunch of food each time! December really is not the best time for diet for me. I chose to go to a Japanese Izakaya called Rajio which is a sister restaurant of Kingyo and Suika. I’ve been to the other two restaurants multiple times but never to this one.

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Their interior decoration had totally Matsuri (Japanese Festival) theme to it. It really reminded me of my childhood memories!

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Complimentary Cabbage – 

  • Raw cabbage served with salty and sour sauce.
  • It was simple yet appetizing way of starting the meal.
  • Raw cabbage is well known for various health benefits such as weight loss (high in fiber) and even cures hangovers!

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Fresh Oysters (Royal Miyagi) – 4/5 

  • $1.20 per piece or $13.20 for dozen
  • They were really fresh and were served with cold thick plum based sauce.

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Mackerel Nang Bang Zuke – 4/5 

  • $3.80
  • Fried Mackerel & Veggies in simple sweet and sour sauce (A Japanese Mackerel Escabeche).
  • The waitress suggested us to order this because it was already made and ready to go (It seems like we looked really hungry!)
  • I’m glad that we ordered this dish because it was really nice and light appetizer before we started digging into more heavier stuff!

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*Y’s* Mommy’s Assorted Oden – 4/5 

  • $8.80
  • Oden is a Japanese comfort food
  • Long-simmered one-pot dish with assorted vegetables, meat, fish cakes, and half boiled egg in a kelp and clam based broth served with side of karashi mustard.
  • I love oden! It’s a nice hot soup to warm you up during the winter! My favorite pieces are the radish and the hanpen!

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*Y* Ebi Mayo – 4.5/5 

  • $6.80
  • Cilantro Tempura Battered Tiger Prawns with chili mayo & shrimp cracker.
  • I was going to skip ebi mayo because it is such a typical dish but when I saw the word ‘Cilantro’ on their menu and I had to order it!
  • Although there was not much of cilantro taste to it, it was definitely a well prepared ebi mayo!

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Dipping Sauce for Kushikatsu

  • Kushikatsu is definitely what makes Rajio unique from other Izakaya restaurant.
  • Kushikats is a deep fried skewers served with dipping sauce.
  • As soon as you order kushikatsu, the server will bring you this adorable dipping sauce jar and a small vase to put all the skewer sticks after you finish eating.
  • “One Dip One Life!” A nice way of reminding their patrons not to double dip.

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Kushi Katsu – 3/5 

  • Octopus Ball $1.90, Camembert cheese $1.90, and Chicken $1.80
  • They are kind of like yakitori but panko breaded and deep fried.
  • They were interesting and tasty but chicken skewer came out under-cooked.

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Tontoro (Grilled Pork Cheek)– 4.5/5 

  • $6.80
  • Simply grilled pork cheek, seasoned with home-made spice and salt & pepper.
  • I’ve tried tonotoro from several different Izakaya but this one is definitely the best I’ve tried so far!
  • They were very tender and juicy as it was described on the menu!

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The KFC!– 4.5/5 

  • $7.80
  • Boneless chicken Kara-age coated with spice mix and komeko rice flour.
  • Wow! Their Karaage is so yummy! The coating was crispy and chicken inside was super juicy.
  • Their Karaage is as good as the ones from Mogu!

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Squid Tentacle Kara-Age  – 4/5 

  • $6.80
  • Deep-fried soft texture squid tentacles tossed in their beer friendly spice blend.
  • Rajio’s deep fried stuff are all so good! My sister, who does not enjoy deep fried food, admitted that they were all yummy!

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Juicy Grilled ATKA Mackerel – 4/5 

  • $12.00
  • Grilled Atka Mackerel.
  • I ordered this for my daddy because he is a big fan of grilled fish. He really loved it!

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Aburi *Shime-Saba* Sushi – 5/5 

  • $12.80
  • Nourishing Mackerel, cured with hokkaido kelp and vinegar, is lightly seared & drizzled with sesame mustard soy.
  • It’s apparently a Kyoto style Feast.
  • Most of the Oshi sushi (pressed sushi) I’ve tried in Vancouver were pretty mediocre due to too much rice. However, I fell in love with Rajio’s because their fish to rice ratio is perfect!
  • Saba was super tender and the sauce went really amazing with it (although my hubby preferred it with less sauce).

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Negitoro Battera – 4/5 

  • $9.80
  • Rich chopped Albacore tuna belly is matched with scallions and pickled crunchy daikon radish. It was served with citrus seaweed dressing.
  • I loved their citrus seaweed dressing! It was unique and went very well with the negitoro.

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Aburi Toro Avocado Battera – 4/5 

  • $12.80
  • Lightly seared, pressed Canadian Albacore tuna-toro sushi with a thin layer of avocado, shiso herb for an accent & original black sauce.
  • The toro was perfectly seared and the tobiko and the house-made sauce gave a nice kick to this dish.
  •  Some people had hard time picking up the pieces with their chopsticks because the rice were falling apart due to the sauce but I was okay with it!

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Black Sweet & Sour Pork Rib– 5/5 

  • $11.80
  • Balsamic vinegar adds complex, tangy sweetness to this classic crowd-pleaser.
  • Everybody at my table fell in love with this dish!
  • Rajio took the word ‘tender’ to a next level! Even the bones were soft! Must Try!

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Heavenly Sweet Shrimp Miso Ramen – 3.5/5 

  • $9.80
  • Deep-golden shrimp soup is made by folding finely ground shrimp meat into 3 kinds of miso paste and whisked with the broth extracted from shrimp & pork bone.
  • The embellished ramen served with slices of cha-shu pork & shrimp infused garlic oil.
  • It was a really rich and creamy ramen with noodles being a bit on chewier side in a good way.

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Sea urchin & Ikura Carbonara Udon  – 4/5 

  • $13.80
  • Rich & creamy sea urchin pan fried udon noodle served with ikura.
  • We did not taste the flavors of uni as much but I loved how it was served with Ikura!

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It’s time for dessert~! I don’t usually order dessert after my dinner because I have tendency of ordering so much food and I never have the room left in my stomach for dessert. But, I had to order their dessert because they were house-made and I love Japanese style desserts that are not too sweet.

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Smooth Creme Brulee– 3.5/5 

  • $3.80
  • It was a nice custard base without the hard caramel that usually comes on creme brulee.
  • It was nicely made with good amount of sweetness and not too overwhelmingly sweet.

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Yuzu Cheesecake with Salted Caramel – 4/5 

  • $5.20
  • This was the cheesecake of the day and the chef told us hewas really happy with the outcome!
  • The salted caramel sauce on top really went well with the cheesecake.

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Mango Almond Tofu – 4/5 

  • $3.80
  • My favorite dessert! Tofu! lol
  • It tasted somewhat like mango pudding but in a less guilty way!

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I really enjoyed the food at the Rajio Public House that I came back the very next day to bring my family. All the food items were prepared carefully and I would say this is my favorite Izakaya restaurant in Greater Vancouver for now. If you haven’t tried this restaurant yet, please go and try because their foods are awesome!

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La Pentola della Quercia

Restaurant: La Pentola
Cuisine: Italian
Area: Yaletown
Address: 350 Davie Street (OPUS Hotel)
Parking: Street Parking
Phone: (604)642-0557
Hours of Operation: Sun-Thurs 7:00am – 3:00pm & 5:00pm to 10:30pm Fri-Sat 7:00am – 3:00pm & 5:00pm to 12:30am

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent

I’m really bad with gift cards. They usually all get stored in my drawer because I have too many cards in my wallet. Well, I read somewhere before that about 10% of all the gift cards bought won’t get used! I still have a metrotown gift card which I haven’t used for more than a year and they’ve started deducting money from it (apparently, after 16 months from activation date, they deduct some fee every months). I seriously need to go shopping lol! Well, I finally decided to take one of the gift cards that was sitting in my drawer for ages and use it! It was a $100 gift card for a restaurant called La Pentola which is located in the OPUS Hotel in Yaletown.
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After sleeping in, I got ready and walked to La Pentola for late lunch. This Italian restaurant had rustic, yet elegant ambiance with very spacious dining area.
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They were serving brunch when we got there and the place was relatively quiet with only two more tables besides us.
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Here is a snapshot of what we ordered.
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Complementary Bread with Olive Oil

  • These baguettes were fresh and served in an adorable wooden box.
  • They were bit cold when served and I would have liked them better if they were served warm.

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Arugula, balsamic, pine nuts and Parmesan – 3/5 

  • $13
  • This is a classic Italian salad has clean and simple flavors.
  • The slightly bitter taste of arugula went well with crunchy pine nuts and the Parmesan cheese.

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Linguini Vongole – 3/5 

  • $18
  • This linguini vongole was kept as simple as possible, the way it should be.
  • Because it was kept simple, you can taste the flavors of the fresh clams.

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Porcini Mushroom Risotto– 2.5/5 

  • $20
  • It was a bit different than what I was expecting.
  • The rice of the risotto was a bit on a harder side and it was slightly salty from the soy sauce.
  • I hoped that there was a bit more of permasen cheese to it.

Overall, all the food we tried at La Pentola della Quercia had very delicate flavors and I can see that the chef really tries to focus on the natural flavors of the fresh ingredients. I would like to come back and try their lunch and dinner menu to taste their other menus. I still have left over money on my gift card so I will definitely come back!

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