Tuesday, September 1, 2015


For the longest time I have been contemplating between Buckstop on Denman street or Devil's Elbow Ale and Smoke House in Gastown, and decided to go with Buckstop because they have been on my list ever since the restaurant opened their doors. Buckstop is a small and cozy barbecue restaurant that focuses on locally sourced food and made from scratch ingredients, such as making their own ketchup! So after polishing off a medium size bag of chips at Whole Foods because my friend was running AN HOUR AND A HALF LATE, we finally entered the restaurant. To be fair though, she did suggest for me to order some appetizers first... but knowing myself I would have ordered everything and have her finish what was left LOL.

When we arrived, the restaurant was almost full and we were offered a six person table after the staff discussed where to seat us for a while. We were also warned that those coming in later would be squeezed next to us and I really appreciate the staff giving us a chance to have an actual table rather than shoving us at the bar (which many restaurants surprisingly do not do). The atmosphere at Buckstop is very casual, loud and non-rushed, making it ideal for a great hang out place. Many of the tables were finished their dinner and just kicked back to relax.

Monday, May 25, 2015


Located in Downtown Vancouver and near Canada Place lies Miku, a Japanese restaurant with a waterfront view that specializes in fusion and Aburi cuisine. Or, simply known as a must visit restaurant in Vancouver. Aburi cuisine is sushi or sashimi that is partially seared, which provides that smokiness and richness with the addition of sauces.

Miku is also considered a fine dining restaurant and with the higher prices, location and atmosphere it is certainly a restaurant where I would take out of town guests or go with a large group of friends. With that said however, I would never come here just for the food because I find the restaurant very inconsistent along with the service and nothing special.

My guest and I arrived on a weekend for dinner and we were offered a seat on the patio, which has an amazing view of course. We were told the patio is heated all year round and would not be cold at all, but man… we were freezing!

The "heated" patio was practically on the lowest setting and I could not help but think how Black + Blue or Coast Restaurant's heated patio are actually heated, heated to the point where the you feel warmth just by past the restaurants! To be fair though, Miku provides blankets but I am too OCD to use them (I rather not  have to wrap myself in a blanket when I am at a restaurant too). On top of that, it was more disappointing when despite that other tables were cold as well, the management could not change heat setting.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Chewies Steam & Oyster Bar : Coal Harbour Location

Chewies Steam & Oyster Bar is a New Orleans inspired restaurant serving Cajun and Creole dishes such as gumbo, jambalaya and fried chicken. The first Chewies opened in Kitsilano and the second location is located at Coal Harbour in Downtown Vancouver. At the Coal Harbour location, Chewie's happy hours run from 3:00pm to 6:00pm and I believe some appetizers are 50% off and oysters are $1.00 to $2.00.

We arrived around 2:30pm and were too hungry to wait thirty minutes for a cheaper deal, but a couple of tables waited and the staff had no problems with it. The atmosphere at Chewies is fun, casual and laid back, where none of the staff looked miserable. Our server was also professional, friendly and polite, but not very attentive. A few of our dishes sat at the counter for a while before they were delivered and we constantly kept hearing "service please" from the kitchen.

But meh, he was friendly. He did not have any problems when we asked to have three courses instead of having all the dishes arrive at once because of the small table issue. As for the interior, the restaurant is fairly spacious (excluding the area with half booth seats) and Chewies has a patio too.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Fish Shack : Happy Hour

Man… I used to complain all the time whenever I have to eat around 4:00-5:00pm because it is not the "proper" dinner time and I never know which restaurants to go to. Then some friends would mention happy hours and I am like meh, I rarely drink and the food probably sucks. But lately I have been in the mood for happy hours because I think it is a great way to see if the restaurant is worth revisiting for dinner. Well, not really because the food is different, but it is a good way for me to think like that while cutting down on costs.

So when my friend from Toronto landed in Vancouver and settled down, I decided to take her to The Fish Shack for some snacks. I wish I could say that it is because The Fish Shack is a very popular and well known restaurant in Vancouver, but it is more because of my own curiosity to try out the place LOL. The Fish Shack is a part of the Glowbal Group of restaurants and is located on Granville Street. The atmosphere is very casual and there is an enormous chalkboard with information of a variety of fish.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Nicli Antica Pizzeria

A friend from Toronto was visiting and she loves Neapolitan pizza, LOVES. Her favourite Neapolitan pizzeria in Toronto is Pizzeria Libretto. So when she asked me to take her somewhere good, Nicli Antica is the first place that came to my mind. The reason is because Nicli is the first pizzeria in Vancouver to be certified by the Verace Pizza Napolenta. Although to be honest I was skeptical about taking her here because when I skimmed through some photos online, surprisingly a lot of their pizza lacked that nice charred leoparding! Moreover, even some photos on their official Instagram account lacked that beautiful blistering!

Nicli is located on East Cardova in Gastown, next to sibling restaurant Nicli's Next Door. The layout of the restaurant is long, but neither narrow nor cramped. The seating arrangements are fairly comfortable and the restaurant has a nice atmosphere. There is a spacious bar, a high ceiling, and a clean modern look. We arrived right at opening (11:30am) and the staff were friendly and welcoming. The restaurant filled up fairly quick too.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Next Noodle Bar 裕小館

You know that feeling when you are starving but have dinner plans in literally a couple of hours? I despise that because whenever I try to have a snack, I end up going for a small meal and spoil my appetite for dinner. Sometimes I am fine with spoiling my appetite but it sucks because I end up stuffing myself full during dinner, overeat until I cannot breathe and walk out with a food baby. So this was the case when I waited an hour for my sister to get off work so we could have dinner together, and I ended up trying Next Noodle Bar with a friend.

Next Noodle Bar is located on Robson Street in Downtown Vancouver and has been around for almost a decade. The restaurant is fairly large, there are booth seats along with spacious seating arrangements, a high ceiling and the staff are friendly. Every table is provided with a large plate and a fork, but chopsticks are available on the side.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Blossom Teas

Blossom Teas is situated in a residential area in North Burnaby, next to Mountain Shadow Pub. Most people only know of Blossom Teas if they live in North Burnaby or by word of mouth. The bubble tea establishment offers an extensive menu from real fruit smoothies, ice cream and yogurt shakes, ice shave, coffee and tea lattes to dessert.

The atmosphere at Blossom Teas is very homey and non-rushed (although the place was not busy when we arrived). There is a fair amount of tables, a sofa, and even a couple of Japanese dart machines. The only reason I chose to visit Blossom Teas is because they offer shaved frozen yogurt! I am not a fan of shaved ice at all because shaved milk/snow ice is way better. Way. Better!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Francesco's Ristorante Italia

A friend from Seattle was spending a week in Vancouver for his birthday and since he was staying at the Sutton Place, it made sense to have lunch at Francesco's Ristorante Italia. Francesco's is one of Vancouver's oldest restaurants, focusing on Sicilian cuisine with West Coast influences. The restaurant is located on Burrard Street and their patio is always full during the summer.

The atmosphere is bright and inviting with plenty of natural lighting, but the restaurant is dim and romantic during dinner services. The restaurant is a fairly good size too and there are plenty of tables which are nicely spaced out and not cramped one bit. Moreover, there are a couple of dining areas that can accommodate larger groups and special celebrations.

Since we arrived for lunch, the service is pretty casual. None of the staff ask how the food is, we arrange the dishes on the table ourselves and wave down a server to remove a finished plate, when the restaurant had less than three tables… For those who are regulars however, are welcomed like royalty and provided with impeccable service. Did I care? Na, it was not my birthday LOL and we were here for lunch instead of dinner. Plus, it saves me gratuities since we left only a 15% tip.

Friday, April 3, 2015

La Casita : Gastown Location

After rescheduling a few many times with FoodinYVR and asking her for restaurant suggestions only to decline them all… I settled on La Casita. La Casita is located in Gastown on the corner of Abott and Cardova, and appears to be a very busy restaurant. I say very busy because on a Thursday late afternoon, we were the first to arrive at the empty restaurant but within thirty minutes, La Casita was packed! The restaurant had a full house by 5:00pm.

La Casita is a Mexican cuisine restaurant that offers a very extensive menu, from ceviche to tostadas, taquitos, fajitas, enchiladas, flautas, tacos, quesadillas, chimichangas and burritos. But how is the quality of food? With regards to the interior, La Casita is a very large restaurant and the seating arrangements are not too cramped. There are also plenty of staff and our server was friendly.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Dae Bak Bon Ga

Dae Bak Bon Ga has been around for ten years, a whole decade. The restaurant is huge and occupies the second floor of Robson Plaza, serving traditional Korean food, offering all you can eat barbecue, and providing karaoke rooms. Dae Bak's AYCE Korean barbecue is different than other restaurants too because they serve meat in unique marinades such as curry or matcha.

After having lunch at Damso and being disappointed that the restaurant no longer serves bossam, I had major cravings for Korean style steamed pork belly and had to try Dae Bak on the following day! Every time I pass Dae Bak, I find the prices fairly high for their all you can eat menu. I personally only enjoy galbi (not LA cut ribs) and pork belly when having Korean barbecue, but Dae Bak only offers galbi on their priciest AYCE menu which is $45.00/person (actually, it may even only include LA cut ribs).

$45.00 is pricey in my opinion because a whole strip and a half of galbi is good enough for me and usually it costs $30.00 for an order at most Korean restaurants, which includes a couple of strips. Other than Dae Bak's all you can eat menu, their lunch specials catch my attention too. $13.00 for a plate of bossam? Yes please! The bossam looks really well seasoned, tender and fatty in the photo too.

During the lunch rush on a weekday, the restaurant was not very busy so there was only one server at the front. She was really friendly, but it was hard to find her because for some reason we were seated in a hidden corner. The seating arrangements at the restaurant are pretty private depending on where you sit because there are plenty of divider walls. But towards the middle end of the restaurant, it is all open space.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Boathouse Restaurant : English Bay Location

The Boathouse Restaurant is one of Vancouver's own chains and there are seven waterfront locations (English Bay, Horseshoe Bay, Kitsilano, White Rock, Richmond, New Westminster and Port Moody). I remember coming to The Boathouse quite often with my family when I was in elementary school, but it sort of stopped when I started attending high school. Our Family liked The Keg more and Cactcus Club or Joey were the preferred choices in my teen years. Then I guess after a few mediocre visits to The Boathouse in my university years, I started disliking the restaurant chain. But recently, a friend mentioned he went on a date to The Boathouse and the food was decent so I started questioning why I disliked the chain to begin with.

Arriving for a late lunch but before Happy Hours on a Friday, we waited at the front for around five minutes and none of the staff or hostess were on site. I further peaked into the bar area and did not see any of the staff, but there was one seated table. As we continued waiting, my guest sneezed twice and super loud which echoed. I was thinking FML how embarrassing, but the hostess was still no where to be seen! So after waiting, I was pretty pissed because The Boathouse is a chain restaurant and most restaurant chains take pride in providing well above average service. Restaurants in Downtown Vancouver usually provide better than usual service to cater to the business clientele too.

So the last straw was when the telephone started ringing, the hostess was still no where to be seen and I decided to leave the restaurant. We scanned the area and Cactus Club or Milestones across the street from The Boathouse would have been a better choice and both restaurants looked fairly busy. However, I decided to give The Boathouse another chance because I made reservations through OpenTable and already had my mind set on visiting (for a few days too lol). When we re-entered the restaurant, the hostess was on the phone and greeted us when she ended her telephone call.

The hostess led us up the staircase to the dining room, dropped off the menus and walked away. As I sat at the window seat, I could not help but think that Cactus Club across the street has a full house because their service is pretty top notch.

The large dining room has spacious seating arrangements, but the interior is outdated and not the cleanest. The table was not clean and the cutlery were literally filthy. Who is the dishwasher? When our server arrived after a while, I asked if she could change my cutlery and she did not seem to understand why. Well trained staff would also ask my guest if his cutlery needed to be changed as well, but he used his white napkin and the glass of water provided to clean them. On top of that, I wanted to order a drink but as soon as I touched the drink menu, there was literally a cloud of dust. What the hell?

View from our window seat.
From looking for the unenthusiastic hostess to the poor first impression from our server, the service did not start off good. But as we started ordering and asking a few questions, our server opened up a bit to us. It was a bit awkward because when we inquired about the ingredients in the Whiskey Crab Soup, our server responded "uhh... crab". Umm okay. Our server was not rude or unfriendly at all, she just seemed a bit  lazy. It is like she knew the answers, but it took her a while to provide more useful responses. I like how she warned us the Crispy Fish Tacos are already considered a meal and going for the Ahi Tuna Tacos would be a better choice as an appetizer though when we asked for a recommendation.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Damso Modern Cuisine : Denman Location

Whenever I pass Damso Modern Cuisine on either their Bute or Denman Street location, I always think "meh". But at the same time, I always look back because of their advertised $9.99 gamjatang. The gamjatang in the photo looks pretty good too, showing a large chunk of potato and plenty of perilla seeds. So I decided to make a visit with a friend on her lunch break and made sure to check out their menu online beforehand.

Damso on Denman Street is a three men operated restaurant, where there are two in the kitchen and one at the front. The man at the front was friendly and a professional. Since the tables are fairly small at Damso, we asked if the food can come out slower and not all once, and he brought over new plates when we moved onto the next dish. He was also patient when answering questions and it turns out the menu I found was from a couple of years ago, so the bossam along with the galbi steak I was looking forward to having were no longer available :(.

The restaurant is small so there are only ten tables, but the seating arrangements are properly maximized. The high ceiling promotes a better air circulation and the restaurant is fairly clean too.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Boss Restaurant 大班餐廳餅店

With The Boss Restaurant, Fortune House Seafood, Kawawa Japanese and Sekai Udon Bar as the only current restaurant choices in Metropolis at Metrotown, sometimes the food court may be a better option. The aforementioned restaurants are not necessarily that bad (with a couple of exceptions), but the food is not really all that great either. I was curious to try The Boss again though because the place is memorable to me.

The Boss Restaurant is memorable to me because my first visit here was when I was in high school, it was also my first time visiting a Hong Kong style cafe. HK style cafes have never been my type of restaurant to go to and I remember ordering a burger and fries on my first visit LOL. I remember wishing that I could have went to McDonalds instead… I never liked No.9 Restaurant in Richmond too and remember ordering hash browns there on my first visit. But as of last year, I do not mind HK cafes anymore because some of the restaurants carry steaks. Although the quality may not always be the best… the steak options do save me from stressing out about what to order.

Majority of the seating arrangements at The Boss are comfortable booths, but there are a few tables at the back. The restaurant also has plenty of staff so there is no problem waving someone down, but you have to wave them down if you need their attention or want them to clear plates. On our visit, majority of the staff were extremely miserable looking too and impatiently tossed the food on our table. But May was extremely friendly and such a sweetheart. Too bad we only saw her at the beginning and the end.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Pekoe Tea Lounge

Every time I pass by Pekoe Tea Lounge on the corner of West Broadway and Laurel street, the words "home made gourmet pies" scream to me. Literally. Every. Single. Time. So after literally half a year of contemplating whether I should make the visit, I finally decided to make a move and juggled a few things around my schedule.

When I walked in, it was fairly awkward because the cashier and manager were standing behind the counter but no one greeted me. The staff were not even talking to each other, just literally staring at me. So after greeting the staff myself, I ordered a cup of hot chocolate and a slice of pie. When I finished ordering, the barista mumbled "it will take a while because I have to…", have to what?! 

I disregarded what she said and stood by the counter for around ten minutes until I realized I should take a seat instead. I wish the barista or manager welcomed me to take a seat, but I did not think the staff delivers food to the table. It was more awkward too because no one was preparing my food during the time I was standing, so I felt like an idiot standing there.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Nor Boo Korean

With no shortage of Korean restaurants in Downtown Vancouver, how do you decide which one to visit? By word of mouth? Choosing a restaurant based on the decor or menu? I have never heard much about Nor Boo and looking at the exterior, the restaurant does not scream out "must visit" to me. But at the same time, I thought perhaps Nor Boo might be an underrated homestyle restaurant. My friend and I  were craving for some soup for lunch too!

The interior is outdated and there is not much to look at, except for a television tuned to a Korean channel. There are booth seating arrangements along one side of the wall and plenty of large tables throughout the restaurant. The seating arrangements are properly maximized and the interior is not too cramped as well.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Keg Steakhouse + Bar : Alberni Street Location

I am a fairly picky and an indecisive individual, and there is only one other person that I know of who is pickier and more indecisive than me. It was also her birthday which meant that she had ever right to be pickier than usual! Her birthday evening was already all set (literally planned half a year in advance…) and we were not going to have a celebratory lunch, but we decided to grab a bite after finishing a run on the seawall.

Like every The Keg establishment, the restaurant has a modern atmosphere and features a high ceiling, luxurious velour and/or leather booth seating arrangements, and dim lighting. Out of countless visits to The Keg ever since I was a child however, this is the first time the hostess opened the door for me! Perhaps because we visited for lunch, no one else was at the front of the restaurant, or the staff is well trained at the Alberni Street location.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Shota Sushi & Grill

Three Japanese restaurants in a week? I needed to satisfy my sushi cravings after a couple of mediocre experiences at two Japanese operated establishments, Hachibei and Ajisai. We actually had lunch here on the following day after trying Ajisai hehe. Sometimes I wonder why people insist that authentic restaurants must mean the food is good. There are plenty of below average Chinese run, Chinese cuisine restaurants that prove otherwise.

Speaking of Chinese restaurants, Shota Sushi & Grill is a Chinese run Japanese restaurant. Shota is located in Kerrisdale and appears to be popular with some celebrities, including plenty of Canuck hockey players. There are autographs above the sushi bar and plastered along one side of the dining room.

Shota Sushi looks fairly big from the outside, but the restaurant is smaller than it appears. There is a sushi bar along with tables in one section of the restaurant and the main dining room consists of lounge chairs. Patio seating is also available for when the weather permits.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Stepho's Souvlaki Greek Taverna : Robson Location

Back in high school, my sister raved about a restaurant on Davie Street and dragged my parents and I out there. My sister could not stop yapping about Dad's Root Beer and the large portions of food at Stepho's Souvlaki Greek Taverna. I do not remember much about that dinner other than my father being mad because he received a chipped plate along with dirty cutlery, and everyone excluding my sister found the food mediocre. But Stepho's must be doing something right because they have opened a second location on Robson Street.

The layout of the restaurant resembles a home and there are different rooms to be seated in. I do not understand why we were seated along the wall in a busy hallway though, despite that there were window seats available. I also do not understand how considering the gorgeous sunny and warm weather, why none of the windows were open. The restaurant was poorly ventilated and stuffy. What I do enjoy however, is the plentiful amount of natural lighting during our lunch.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Ajisai Sushi Bar 味彩

After a disappointing dinner at Hachibei, I wanted to try another authentic Japanese run establishment. The next restaurant on my list was Ajisai Sushi Bar in Kerrisdale, so we headed there a couple of days later for lunch.

The restaurant is very small, consisting of only seven tables and a sushi bar, but the seating arrangements are not too cramped. My thoughts may be biased however because the tables beside us were empty during our visit.

Ajisai has a large menu of donburi, sushi rolls, cones, pressed sushi, inari and a whole page dedicated to vegetarians. The closest cooked items would be donburi or tataki, and the restaurant does not offer teriyaki or tempura. Having a limited selection of cooked items is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does build higher expectations regarding sushi. Plus, "authenticity" always builds up higher expectations too right?

Monday, March 16, 2015


Hachibei is a small neighbourhood restaurant, Japanese owned and operated. A cozy establishment located on West 16th between Cambie and Oak Street. Normally I am not one to jump to every authentic Japanese restaurant because I have had my share of negative experiences, but lately I have been wanting to give them another go.

We arrived on a Friday evening and the restaurant was only half full by the time we left (I have heard that there are line ups and reservations are recommended). The interior is very simple and reminds me of a few tiny eateries in the really small villages of China. There are also around only ten tables and the restaurant is a fairly tight, but we did not find the seating arrangements cramped because we had a whole section to ourselves.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Ramen Jinya 陣家

There are a few well known ramen restaurants in Downtown Vancouver such as Kintaro for their fatty soup bases, large portions and tender chashu; Santouka for their creamy and velvety rich broths; Motomachi for their innovative twist on ramen; and Taishoken which serves above average ramen. However, apparently Ramen Jinya joins the list as well because there is always a line up! I have never lined up for more than twenty minutes at Kintaro or Santouka, but I waited thirty five minutes to see what the fuss is about with Ramen Jinya.

There is a self service wait list outside of the restaurant which is based on an honorary system and I highly doubt anyone would cross the names of other people on the list. As for the interior, the seating arrangements are fairly comfortable when compared to other ramen restaurants because there are more individual tables than communal, which is great for those who like to have a larger personal space. With regards the service, the staff were friendly and non-rushed despite having a line up.


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