Sunday, November 29, 2015

Food for Thought: Bored with Greek, try Turkish - Turkish Cuisine at Saray

Turkish Food: Simple
Yet varied.  Good tasting at
Burnaby’s Saray.

I like the simplicity of Greek food but perhaps due to its uncomplicated nature it’s pretty boring in Greater Vancouver.  For the most part, there’s very little differentiating one Greek restaurant from another in the city. The menus and executions of the dishes seem nearly identical.   

In an effort to find something similar but more exciting, I’ve started to sample Turkish cuisine.  Turkey and Greece have a long history with one another (“This is Sparta!” or if you old like me “Istanbul (not Constantinople)”).  As a result there are similarities between the two cultures’ food.  However, there seems to a slightly different spice palate used and a greater variety of dishes to try with Turkish cuisine.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Wow, You’ve Got Something There! – The Braised Beef Shin Entrée From Catch 122

Improved everything
At Catch 122, tasty
Eats pre Canucks' game.

My first visit to Catch 122 was the start of an awful day.  It was the Sunday of the 2014 Heritage Classic (a.k.a the final straw for Lu) and I was never more embarrassed to be a Canucks fan.  Other fans thought it was a fun idea to boo their own starting goalie, Eddie Lack, who got the start over Lu due to the sheer lunacy of Coach Torts. 

The game was maddening and so was my pre game brunch at Catch 122.  The sloppy service was excruciatingly slow and the food was so poorly executed; as just one example, I got under cooked beans in my baked bean side dish.

From the pre game meal to the team and its fans, that day was a gong show. Due to the overall suckiness of that March Sunday, I have never stepped foot into Catch 122 since. 

However 20 months later, a chef change, menu revamp and some positive experiences shared over Instagram, I thought it was time to give Catch 122 another chance.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Wow, You’ve Got Something There! – Innovative Ramen from The Ramenman

French Flare in the bowls
Containing Chicken Ramen
At The Ramenman

“Where’s the two types of meat?”
“Do you have Wifi (even though we are going to end up leaving in 5 minutes)?”
“I don’t usually order ramen with meat, your competitors have a veggie ramen option and you should add one too”
“You should always listen to the customer.”

Urrgghh.  I don’t know what exactly bothered me so much about the interaction I overheard between the owner, the Ramenman himself, and the two diners.  Personally I thought they sounded like a condescending pair of asshats.  However, the Ramenman, patiently explained and complied with their requests with one exception. 

The owner was insistent on staying true to his chicken ramen vision despite the couple bringing out the “customers are always right” ultimatum on their vegetarian demand.   This conversation happened on my second visit.  Like the troublesome twosome, I also had questions about the ramen served at this new eatery stemming from my first visit.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Wow, You’ve Got Something There! – KFC and Soondubu Jjigae from Damso on Bute

Classics with modern
Korean fare listed on
Damso’s small menu

When it comes to food, my mind has an insatiable curiosity, the full on W5.  A few months ago I decided to investigate Korean cuisine in more depth.  Much like how Vietnamese food isn’t just Pho, Korean is not just barbeque and eating your kimchi.  My recent visits to Damso on Bute were hands on and a necessary part of my investigation.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Wow, You’ve Got Something There! – Big Bowl Rice

A Great Soulful Soup
Powers the good eating at
Downtown’s Big Bowl Rice

A different route back to the office from Pacific Centre, lead me to Big Bowl Rice.  The odd name and the Taiwanese beef noodle being advertised on the storefront peaked my curiosity.  Rents are expensive downtown, so you don’t expect to see a lot of mom and pop places in the area.

Big Bowl Rice is a classic hole in the wall; sparsely decorated and seats about 20.  Given the traditional Chinese on the menu and the Hong Kong drama blaring on a TV in the corner, I think the owners are from the first special administrative region.

The place seems popular with students as for $10.50 one can get a combo of a large soup noodle and a small snack (veggie spring roll, fish balls, or chicken wings).  I don’t think I spotted anything more than $11 on the menu, which for lunch is a pretty good deal downtown.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Wow, You’ve Got Something There! – Battera & Saba Nigiri from Kilala

Hidden Kilala
Serving Superb Battera
In North Burnaby.

What defines a truly food obsessed person?  For me it’s two things:
  • An individual’s curiosity about all aspect of the food they eat
  • Their search for great food where ever it is

The first factor usually means the person bakes or cooks.  Whether it's perfecting a technique or tinkering with a new ingredient, I haven’t met a passionate food person that doesn’t cook/bake food in his or her own kitchen.  The second criteria results in a person knowing a few hole in the wall eateries that serves outstanding food. 

These hidden gems are often tiny and the owners don’t spend too much money on décor or a PR team.  What they lack in exposure and aesthetics, they more than make up for it with flavourful and well executed food. 

Kilala in North Burnaby perfectly exemplifies the under the radar restaurant you should know about.  This 12 seat sushi joint is run by a couple and just serves a pared down menu of raw fish and rice in a more old school way – no crazy fusion rolls here.  The only cooked food they serve is udon.