You could say we’ve been going beyond our boundaries, but still sticking to primarily Asian food.
Estea Beverage Club (Burnaby, BC)
Given lactose intolerance and aversion of cheese seems to be more prevalent amongst Chinese people, I find it interesting there are the creamy, saucy items on their menus. I guess they are for the rest of us who love cheese and tolerate milk. It took me a while to try the milky ramen at Benkei (which was fantastic!) and I tend to forget to order the milky hotpots. Certainly I wouldn’t suggest that a big communal hot pot be the milky broth kind, but it’s okay for a personal one.
NPY, Ran and I went to Estea one evening and it seemed natural to just order our own food so I took the plunge and ordered their Creamy Mushroom Hot Pot. The broth is quite like dilute cream soup that is very mild on the mushroom flavour. The ingredients, had I paid attention, would be entirely seafood: sole, fish balls, imitation crab, fish tofu, shrimp and squid. I have really learned over the years that I do not like assorted seafood concoctions. It was a nice light meal but ridiculously one-sided on the seafood in terms of a personal meal. The small side dishes with cabbage and zucchini made a small dent into remedying it.
NPY orderd the chicken nuggets with creamy mushroom corn sauce. Just like my broth but much thicker! We were in a creamy flavour mood or something. The chicken nuggets were passable but not spectacular.
Sushi Garden Lougheed (Burnaby, BC)
Relative to where NPY lives, Sushi Garden’s newer location on Lougheed Highway is kind of close. I have always considered it similar to Sushi Town, much further into Burnaby, because they both offer salmon nigiri for $1 each with crazy big pieces of salmon. However, NPY knows the difference and we always end up driving further to Sushi Town. I didn’t like my one-time long-ago visit to Sushi Garden at their Metrotown location–too crowded, run-down. One day, free of NPY, I could chime in my support to go to the newer Sushi Garden.
The decor is modern, lots of dark mahogany-veneer furnishings, sufficiently wide aisles between tables, and some semblance of clean-up taking place between tables. After Eda declared she would order an Alaska roll, I browsed the ingredients and ordered it as well. I also ordered tamago sushi and toro sushi.
From Follow Me Foodie, I learned about trying tamago to evaluate a restaurant’s skill but the tamago was just okay, it seemed to me. I’m really not a fan of how the wooden sushi boards still have water on them when they are served; it kind of grosses me out for some reason. I wasn’t too happy with my Alaska Roll either. It advertised having salmon, masago, and avocado so I was not pleased there was cucumber and certainly I did not like how it looked like it was leaking. Which ingredient was water-logged? After confering with Eda, we determined they drizzled some of the ginger salad dressing over the roll and it seeped around and off the roll. I had tasted that and did not enjoy it.
Olive ordered salmon sashimi and you can see how he received 9 thick pieces and the price was really fantastic. NPY absolutely does not like thick-sliced sashimi and I agree it’s not very skillful-looking of the chef; however, I like how good a deal it looks to get 9 thick slices. Unfortunately, there were bones running through several slices which was really off-putting.
Tung Hing Bakery (Vancouver, BC)
July came by and it was time for Ran to move! On moving day, several cars were zipping across the city from his temporary abode on the Vancouver-Burnaby boundary and his new swank digs on the west-side. His brother kindly offered to pick up a bunch of Vietnamese subs. I kept asking him where he liked to get them and he said it was a shop with a green awning just a block east (or was it west) of Knight on Kingsway. I “drove” down Kingsway using Google Street View and I think they got the banh mi from Tung Hing Bakery.
Their claim to fame is fresh house-made baguettes and dirt cheap prices. Something like $3 for 12-inch sandwiches! I requested no cilantro and it was a Vietnamese cold-cuts one that was made without the offensive garnish. It was a great sandwich–light, crunchy pickled vegetables, generous slices of 3 types of Vietnamese hams, and a crispy baguette.
Shang Noodle House (New Westminster, BC)
We were out at Queensborough Landing and the food choices looked kind of dire. Big box restaurants to cap off your big box stores shopping. But Starlight Casino is just around the corner and we had heard that there is a great noodle shop alongside fancy schmancy Kirin. The noodle shop was the appropriate place for a casual group meal. It turns out Kirin also runs Shang but you couldn’t tell from the branding and decor–Shang was bright and modern relying on a clean and wood look, like boom noodle in Bellevue, WA.
While NPY’s parents got some combos with noodles and a side, we had eaten at Q Go (Japanese ramen) the day before so we were looking for something that tasted different. NPY ended up ordering a Shanghai-style noodle made with their hand-pulled ramen. I tried only the very littlest bit because “Shanghai-style” bores me. NPY said it was not as greasy as usual.
I went with the BBQ duck spinach ramen in Japanese mushroom soup. That’s a mouthful! The duck was served on the side and the cut was lean (not so much fat in the middle layer) and there were meaty pieces served. Spinach ramen, as I pointed out to NPY, should not be confused with ramen with spinach so it’s no surprise the noodles were green and faintly vegetable-flavoured. And Japanese mushroom soup is a far cry, a lot more clear, than the pork broth of the other noodle dishes ordered. Aside from a fatty side of duck, my noodle soup was downright healthy! The noodles were nice and fresh and plentiful (it was around $7.88).
All of us were saying how we’d be back so I guess that would happen. NPY tried some of the normal white ramen in the pork broth and they were all saying it tastes just like instant noodles, a compliment indeed!
Ki Sushi (New Westminster, BC)
Our friends Eda and Olive have made the practical and fabulous step of moving into a great apartment in New Westminster and we are learning that when you go there at off-peak hours, the drive is not too bad. It’s not the end of the world, especially when I’m not the one driving!
This means we have gone to eat at Ki Sushi two or three times together. One gets a bit leary about Japanese restaurants in the ‘burbs. It’s pretty easy to tell, purely off menu item authenticity, if a suburban Chinese restaurant will be any good, but the Japanese restaurants are more difficult–they serve the same dishes as their city counterparts. But Eda and Olive were dining at Ki even before moving into the area and it’s rubbing off on me.
We got to Ki after a strange day spent purely out of Vancouver proper and some truly random eating had taken place throughout the day, so I just ordered a “plain” Kitsune udon ($6.25) and two pieces of nigiri. I was also trying to keep my dinner around $10 due to the amount of cash I was carrying.
It was really nice now the kitsune udon had three big pieces of “tofu”, sweetened inari sheets. The noodles were also good quality and well-cooked to the tasty springy consistency. The two pieces of sushi were also well-prepared, no complaints from me.
QQ Sushi (Vancouver, BC)
One day, NPY told me that Bert wanted to meet up for a weekday workday lunch at Q Sushi and all I could Google was Sushi Q way the way too far west on Dunbar. It turns out he was talking about QQ Sushi which used to be Opera Sushi, famous for their black sushi made with brown rice and flaxy sushi. Bert raved about the Canuck roll so I tried to steer us to dine at QQ as soon as possible.
On first glance of the menu, we noticed that salmon sushi was really cheap! Just $0.99 per piece so we got five, nicely arranged in a circular bowl all fanned out. Although the Canuck roll is topped with spicy tuna, I think NPY couldn’t quite turn down trying it out given its name! We deliberated between the Rainbow Roll with all sorts of yummy fish and the Canuck Roll which I argued with would better flavour and texture. Afterall, the Canuck Roll had spicy tuna, tuna tempura, avocado, masago, and special sauce. I think the spicy tuna is the component I enjoyed the least. The tempura made it a warm roll with a little bit of crunch, the avocado made it deliciously creamy. Special sauce turns out to be Kewpie mayonnaise and that is always delicious.
We also decided upon seeing it on the chalkboard sign to get a combo including salmon avocado roll and chicken udon for just $6.95. The udon noodle was good but the chicken was a little weak and boring. To be fair, you could tell you had received a whole fillet that got sliced. The roll was delicious with the best two ingredients bundled up.