Kingsway Sushi

Back when I used to work at Boundary and Kingsway, we used to just cross the street from the office and head over to this sushi place for a quick lunch. It was our comfort sushi, with fast service and ok food.

My usual order is the salmon sushi, salmon head shioyaki, kimchi, beef teriyaki and chicken teriyaki. My workmates are a big fan of their mango pudding, one of them can even finish five plates of that stuff. As for me, I don't really like mango, I guess I literally got fed up with it coz I grew up in a place surrounded by mango trees.

Today my friend was craving for deep fried stuff to drown her sorrows in oil and cholesterol, and since this place also serves karaage and all those fried goodies, she invited me to join her here.

The place was packed as usual, and the food was still the same, it's not bad, and not exemplary either. Just enough to get you to your next meal. For a little over 10 bucks, this is a convenient ayce sushi restaurant in the area. Three years ago, we used to walk 15 blocks to go to Fish On Rice near Metrotown just to have ayce sushi, now Japanese food is just 15 steps away.

N: 3.0/5.0 [-2 because the guy who takes orders isn't attentive enough]

Kingsway Sushi
110-3665 KingswayVancouver, BC

Pasta Place

If you are ever up for a large plate of pasta and around an hour lineup, the you ought to visit this place. Anton's Pasta Bar is famous for the queues that form on its doorsteps starting 7pm. The only other place I tried here in Vancouver that has this long wait time is Stepho's Souvlaki Greek Taverna at Davie.

The great thing about this place is their big servings, I think they even hand out a prize for people who actually finish a whole plate by themselves. Seriously, the food is massive, it could feed 3 people.

On my first visit, I think I tried an oil based pasta sauce, and on the second visit I ordered the seafood risotto. This time I tried one of their specialty dishes, the Fusilli New Orleans, which was not as spicy as the pasta I cook, but it was ok, I finished maybe 1/5 of the plate. I also tried a bite of lasagna, and that was way better, I'm gonna order that next time. It just takes 30 minutes to prepare.

Our orders:

Meat Lasagna

Fusilli New Orleans: scallops, sausages, prawns, chicken, red & green peppers in a spicy Cajun sauce

Herb Penne Genovese: sun dried tomatoes & mushrooms in a tomato pesto sauce

N: 4.0/5.0 [-1 because of the lineup]

Anton's Pasta Bar
4260 Hastings Street Burnaby, BC

Triple O's

I never really knew why it was called triple o's until a friend explained the history behind the name. This White Sport burger joint reminds me of California's In and Out. Well, what can I say, a burger is a burger is a burger, not a very big fan.

We ordered the burger meal that comes with fries and drinks. I learned a new drink mix: rootbeer and orange crush, yep it's really good! The fries on this restaurant leaves a lot to be desired, they were steak cut but the quality is that bad that even if you dunk it in vinegar or whatever condiment, it still tasted like blech. Made me miss fries and hot fudge at McDonalds or the great steak cut fries of Red Robin. Probably the only redeeming thing about our order was the burger, which was really huge, I managed to finish three bites before I gave up.

White Spot Triple O's is an ok choice for people who wants to grab meals on the go, but then if it were me, I probably would have gone to Wendy's and bought a big classic.

N: 1.0/5.0 [-4 because I've had way better burgers elsewhere]

White Spot Triple O's
3505 Grandview Hwy Vancouver, BC

Happy Place

Still not done with my fill of Korean food, so I visited this quaint little place just across NCIX, right after I checked out the D10. I remember eating here once with a friend and I ordered the same dish I ordered before. What else would I want from a Korean restaurant? Galbi of course.

The neat thing about this restaurant, or probably it's a standard in any Korean food place, are the side dishes. I got five - soup, kimchi, bean sprouts, broccoli and sweet potato. While I did like all of them, I would have traded the bean sprouts and sweet potato for radish kimchi or other vegetable side dish.

I would definitely come back to this place and try something else from their menu, everything looks good!

N: 4.0/5.0 [-1 because I think the Cho Sun sweet potato is better than this version]

Happy Day Metro House
5021 Kingsway in Burnaby, BC

Authentic Japanese

I've been complaining for a while about the lack of authentic sushi places here in Vancouver, but I finally found one that is owned and operated by Nihon-jins. Tokachi is the name of the place and it's in faraway Surrey.

When we first saw the place from the outside, we hesitated on going in because it looked like the place was deserted. It turned out that people were in separate dining rooms. The lady who served us was very attentive and generous with the tea. I also liked the wasabi, which was really strong.

Our dinner meal was composed of agedashi tofu, veggie tempura and avocado roll, ikura (salmon roe), kaki (oyster) and toro (tuna belly) sushi. Too bad uni (sea urchin) sushi wasn't available, I've been wanting to try that for the past five years. I've only tried it once at Rai Rai Ken in Cebu. I would come back here if uni is available but it's too far from civilization.

N: 4.0/5.0 [-1 because there was no uni]

10767 King George HWY, Surrey, BC

Fancy French

Part of the going away is attending the going away lunches and dinners, so the past few days have been filled with dining out. Le Crocodile was my first choice when my friend and I were deciding for a good dinner place before watching "A Wonderful Life". But since this place wasn't open at that time, we promised to visit it some other day before I go.

The place is really classy and I felt underdressed wearing my hoodie and capris but then again, it's winter so I am underdressed any other way. The lady who served us was like the female counterpart of that guy at Joe Fortes, very gracious, attentive and accommodating. These people really elevated the name hospitality.

The appie sampler was great, it was some sort of baked pastry that I forgot the name of. For appetizers, I got the Dungeness Crab Cake, something I've been craving for way back. I really liked the presentation of this dish, the basil sauce looked so nice that I thought it was plate decoration =). For entree I picked the rack of lamb, which was part of the daily specials. I skipped dessert this time, only because I've already gained five pounds in five days. Now how am I gonna fit on my swimsuit?

N: 4.5/5.0 [-.5 because the crab cake was a bit salty]

Le Crocodile
909 Burrard Street Vancouver, BC

Goto King

Tummy was growling, probably used to eating too much food, so we headed out to have late lunch at one of the Filipino food stores along Joyce. Goto King is supposed to be famous for its congee but we didn't really feel like eating that so we ordered sizzling squid and spring rolls.

The squid was a little too salty for my taste and well spring rolls were spring rolls, you can never get them wrong unless you wrap air in a pinch of meat. The food was ok, the service was fast the lady behind the counter was very accomodating.

Food and eating has always been a social event for me, something I don't do on my own. I'm  beginning to think that the only reason why I go to Filipino places is not really because I crave the food but more because I just want to be surrounded by people who speak a familiar language.

N: 3.0/5.0 [-2 because squid was too salty]

Goto King
5183 Joyce Street, Vancouver

Tea Time

After carrying my stuff and moving them to storage, we decided to grab some snacks to replenish the *lost* energy. It was a toss between cinnabon and bubble tea, the latter emerged victorious.

The new bubble tea place along Kingsway was seated right on a major intersection so it was hard to miss. It was cold and windy but I got the lychee slush with coconut jelly and we also tried the taro pancake.

The slush gave me brain freeze but it was so good. The taro pancake also turned out great. It was basically taro wrapped in batter and deep fried, so it's crunchy on the outside but soft and sweet on the inside. Reminded me of deep fried Mars bars (deep fried what? that's another story =)).

N: 3.0/5.0

Tea Time Bubble Tea
Kingsway, Burnaby BC

Cho Sun Korean BBQ

is my all time favorite food, it's in my top three with sushi and Spanish cuisine. What I love about Korean restaurants are the small side dishes, and kimchi of course, well I can eat kimchi for breakfast, lunch and dinner =)

So for two days in a row I dined at Cho Sun with two different sets of friends. It never gets old. One friend even asked if we were on death row, what would we order for our last meal, and I said galbi!! =)

On Friday lunch, we ordered beef ribs and chicken BBQ, jap chae, deep fried chicken with veggie and dumplings (I should research the Korean names). Everything was good except the beef was too tough, old cow.

On Saturday dinner, we ordered beef ribs, pork and chicken BBQ, deep fried beef with sweet and sour sauce and mixed veggies. The beef ribs BBQ was better this time. We had a blast and consumed four sets of BBQ plates. Wow and I finished maybe 3 bowls of kimchi. I smelled like smoked meat when we came out.

N: 4.0/5.0 [-1 because the beef ribs was not that fresh on Friday lunch time]

Cho Sun
3486 Kingsway Vancouver, BC

That Taiwanese Noodle Place With No Name

I've been trying to find out the name of this place but it's all in Chinese characters so I don't know, I guess I will just have to call it that Taiwanese Noodle place near Green Basil in front of Metrotown, really long name but I'm sure locals will find it.

This place has only five tables so it gets really packed especially during dinner. I used to always walk by this street looking for it but couldn't find it, I thought it closed down for good, but it turned out that they are closed during Mondays, and since they don't really have a proper sign except for all those Chinese characters, you wouldn't really know that it was a restaurant. The place was so small, it looked like a barber shop.

On to the food, my favorite dish here is their beef tendon, and that's what I ordered. My friend got the mapo tofu, which was also good. The pickled bamboo shoots really stank but it tasted ok too. All in all this is a hole in the wall kind of place that locals really love to go to. If people are willing to wait 30 minutes for a table, then it must be really good.This family owned restaurant should definitely expand their place soon.

N: 3.5/5.0 [-1.5 because of the long wait to be seated]

Taiwanese Noodle Place
462x Kingsway Burnaby, BC

Cucina Manila

I was craving for Filipino food so I jogged five blocks and went to this local carenderia to try their kare kare and kaldereta. I think it's been at least eight months since I last went to this place, and I only went just to show my tennis buddies what the cuisine looks and tastes like.

What can I say, when I go to a Filipino restaurant, I always end up saying, "my mom cooks better than this." =) Everything looked the same really, all meat with red, brown or some dark sauce. Don't get me wrong, I love Filipino food but yeah, knowing at the back of my mind that I can have the same fare for 10 times cheaper doesn't really help.

The ambience is typical canteen style where you line up and point at whatever food you want then you pay at the counter. They also offer catering and big orders. I should try the crispy pata next time =)

N: 2.5/5.0 [-2.5 because my Mom can cook better than that =p]

Cucina Manila
5179 Joyce St, Vancouver, BC

Famous Dave's

as a disclaimer, i think my review for this restaurant would not be very reliable because i was very hungry when i ate dinner here with my friends. nevertheless, i'm still sharing the experience i had at "famous dave's".

we ordered right away "not’cho ordinary nachos (grande) " for appetizer and "dave's famous feast" for entree when the waiter got our orders for drinks. that's how hungry we were!

the nachos consist of "Tri-colored tortilla chips topped with Wilbur Beans, Famous Chili, shredded lettuce, tomato, jalapeño, Cheddar, seasoned sour cream, Rich & Sassy® and your choice of barbequed meat: Texas beef brisket, Georgia chopped pork, or pulled BBQ chicken."

the appetizer delicious! we almost finished it all up.

the "dave's famous feast" consists of "A full slab of St. Louis-style spareribs, a whole chicken, 1/2 lb. of either Texas beef brisket or Georgia chopped pork, coleslaw, Famous Fries, Wilbur Beans, four corn-on-the-cob, and four corn bread muffins." we chose the beef brisket. i like spareribs, roasted chicken and corn bread muffins the most in this feast. i can do without the beef brisket. i would recommend this feast for a hungry group of 5 or 6 craving for ribs and roasted chicken. aside from the savory spareribs and chicken, "famous dave's" is also known for its tasty sauces: "Texas Pit" and 'Devil's Spit" to name a few of them.

Verdict: 5/5

Famous Dave's Barbeque
99 Town Line Rd
Vernon Hills, IL 60061

elementary my dear watson

Just before we watched Sherlock Holmes, we decided to grab a quick dinner at Sui Sha Ya. I think the only striking thing about the place is its signage and ambience when you enter the it, makes you think you're going to an expensive sushi place, which it actually is compared to others I've been to, but not really as good at all.

We chose the AYCE menu and got more than we can finish. We picked the miso soup, ebi sunonomo, kimchi, chicken teriyaki, ebi and veggie tempura, ika karaage, chicken karaage, house roll, crab cone, salmon sashimi, tuna sashimi, spicy salmon sashimi, spicy tuna sashimi, unagi, tobiko, cuttlefish and grilled beef short ribs.

It was a lot, and yes there were only two of us to finish all those. I have tried a lot of AYCE sushi places and several other Japanese restaurants here but I haven't really been to one that is owned by a Japanese. It's usually owned by Koreans or Chinese, not that I'm complaining but wouldn't it be more authentic if food from a certain country is actually served by people from that same region?

Anyway, nothing from the dish really stood out, I'm not sure if we should have tried one of each item on the menu but that would have been food coma and we would be falling asleep on the movie house. One thing I noticed though was that the unagi was actually twice as long as the rice ball and not as sweet as it is on other sushi places - which works for me. They were also generous with their grilled short ribs servings, one of my favorites.

N: 2.0/5.0 [-3 because sushi is a dime a dozen in Vancouver and this one didn't justify its hefty price tag]

Sui Sha Ya Japanese Restaurant
4820 Kingsway, #236 Burnaby, BC

tour of greece

we had lunch at a greek restaurant today to celebrate one of our friend's birthday. the ambiance of the place was remarkable. the design of the walls and ceilings matched with the background music made you feel like you're having lunch in greece.

for appetizers, we had hot italian bread with butter and olive oil on the side, flaming saganaki cheese and fried calamari with squeezed lemon. the bread was good and complemented very well with the flaming cheese and fried calamari. the flaming cheese tasted better than the one i first tasted in "dimitri's greek restaurant" since it was saltier than the one we had today. the calamari was very soft and tasty even without dipping it to the sauce.

i ordered greek pikilia, an assorted sampler of roast lamb, meatball pastichio (greek lasagna), dolmades avgolemona dinner (stuffed grapevine leaves with ground lam and rice), spanakotiropita (baked phyllo stuffed with spinach, leeks and feta cheese), rice and potatoes. that's quite a lot right?! i wasn't able to finish them all. by order of preference, i like the dolmades avgolemona the most. its taste was a nice surprise to my palate. the roast lamb would follow. the meat was tender, juicy and tasty. i was not very fond of the spanakotiropita. it had an odd taste for me or probably not used to such taste. i enjoyed the rice and potatoes with the roast lamb and dolmades. i barely touched the meatball pastichio. it tasted like ordinary lasagna to me.

we had baklava (baked phyllo with honey and crushed almonds) for dessert eventhough we were already full. it was very good because it wasn't too sweet.

Verdict: 4.75/5 [-0.25 for the pastichio and spanakotiropita]

Greek Village Taverna
795 E Golf Rd
Schaumburg, IL

farewell lunch at an italian resto

it was my last day with the team yesterday and my team organized a farewell lunch at "olive garden". we had calamari, garlic bread breadsticks and had a choice between soup and salad for starters. I chose garden fresh salad with fresh ground parmesan cheese. the salad tasted good and was crispy fresh. the calamari was just fine.

i ordered cheese-filled ravioli with marinara sauce topped with melted italian cheese for the main course. if you are a cheese lover like i am, you would love this. the type of cheese wasn't that salty and striking but the over-all taste of the dish was very good.

Verdict: 4.5/5 [-0.5 for the average calamari]

Olive Garden Italian Restaurant
701 N Milwaukee Avenue
Vernon Hills, IL 60061

It's a Wonderful Life

- that's the name of the play we saw at Granville Island last Saturday. But before feeding our penchant for the arts,we went ahead and indulged at Joe Fortes, a really cozy upscale resto in downtown Vancouver with very attentive waiters.

The amuse-bouche was seared salmon on a bed of salad. I've now come to recognize how fancy the restaurant is and how big a hole it will burn on my wallet by this treat. My first amuse-bouche experience was at O'Doul's, that was terrific, we had three sets, and in the end spent almost a grand.

Before our orders arrived, we were treated to a bread basket with whipped butter on the side. I'm not a big fan of bread but after I tried the one at the Cheesecake Factory, I don't think this could hold a candle to that.

The menu offered a lot of delectable dishes so it was really hard to choose. Upon recommendation from our waiter, we got the Chef's special for starters, which was a succulent treat of King Crab legs wrapped in crunchy bacon. I must say this was really well done, crispy crackling bacon goodness covering a tender piece of crab legs.

I picked the Orange Berry Crush for drinks then ordered a three-course meal with Cup of New England Clam Chowder as appetizer. Have you ever wondered why they always pair it with Premium biscuits? Anyway I though the crackers were too salty so I skipped it. The clam chowder was superb, I like the big bits of seafood and crab in there. Almost comparable to Nick's New England clam chowder in San Francisco, but not quite.

For entree, I chose the Slow Roasted Beef Short Rib. This dish was fall off the bones tender. I didn't even need the knife, it just gave in to my fork. Half way through the dish I was already full, but I was encouraged by my friend's empty plate so I pushed on until I finally finished it. I should remember to bring a big appetite.

Tiramisu with mascarpone cream, lady fingers and espresso was up for desert. It was ok, to say the least, or maybe I was just too full to appreciate it. Anyway, it wasn't that memorable if you were to ask me, but I must admire the presentation.

Overall, the meal was excellent and our waiter was especially accommodating, I would definitely go back again if only to try the crab cakes and the seafood tower.


N: 4.0/5.0 [-1 because the bread wasn't fantastic and the dessert wasn't spectacular]

Joe Fortes Seafood Restaurant
777 Thurlow Street,
Vancouver, BC V6E 3V5, Canada

not just another sushi place

Eclectic and inventive are two words that best describes Kiku Sushi. With the myriad of sushi places sprouting up along Kingsway from Vancouver to Burnaby, it's easy to miss Kiku, hidden away at the RBC/London Drugs complex. What's good about trying out hole-in-the-wall kind of places is you don't really bring in too much expectations, and that's what I did for this one.

With lots of sashimi, sushi, temaki, bento, ramen and donburi, it was hard to pick just one from the menu; everything looked nice and colorful. I finally opted for something different just to try their unique concoctions, I picked the spicy baked salmon sashimi and the spicy smoked salmon roll. (yea i like them hot!).

The first piques my curiosity, how can a sashimi be baked? It turned out that it was fresh sashimi topped with horesradish and a bit of cheese then baked for a few seconds on high heat just enough to melt the cheese. The result is something reminiscent of the seared ahi tuna I tried earlier, except this one only had the top slightly cooked, and definitely tasted great. The spicy smoked salmon roll almost didn;t come, they forgot to prepare it but it finally arrived in festive colors of orange and green. I like the mix of smoked salmon with avocado but I always get a slight allergic reaction with avocado, my face turns red and my throat gets itchy within minutes from eating it, so I tend to just avoid it in general unless I have a celestamine with me.

My friends tried out the dumplings, avocado roll and the other rolls that I forgot the names of. The presentation was really nice, it would really make you pause for a minute before you start attacking it; the price is reasonable as well, with rolls starting from $2 to $6. There's still so many things to try from their menu, I would definitely come back for more.

N: 4.0/5.0 [-1 because they forgot my order but it was worth the wait, i still need to try more from their menu to make an informed verdict]

Kiku Sushi
4986 Kingsway
Burnaby, BC V5H 2E2
(604) 434-6020