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The large dining room has spacious seating arrangements, but the interior is outdated and not the cleanest.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.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Lee Garden Seafood Restaurant 利苑海鮮酒家 : Dim sum


I wanted to have dim sum with my mother and I was given two options, Kirin or Fortune House. Pfft… how about none? My mother was not pleased with my attitude and brought up the time when I took her and my father to Top Gun in Burnaby for dim sum. Great, I suffered from a burned thumb which took weeks to heal, mediocre food, and now a former restaurant choice that will be used against me from now on. Well, after some persuading, I asked my mother if she wanted to try Lee Garden. I further showed her photos of the restaurant from my previous visit for dinner, insisted that Lee Garden is a newly renovated establishment and hey, it sold her!

We arrived on a weekday and the restaurant was not busy, which made parking very easy compared to finding a spot in a residential area like last time for dinner. After we walked up to the hostess' podium and stood by the sign which says "wait to be seated", we were greeted by a manager who yelled across from the dining room. This is when my mother said, "why let us stand here if you are going to yell across the room?" LOL...

SMALL ($3.88) || MEDIUM ($4.68) || LARGE ($5.18) || SPECIAL ($6.28)

Monday, March 2, 2015


Sometimes when people walk into an empty restaurant (especially during a period that should be busy) they may be skeptical. Why is the restaurant empty? Why are there no seated tables? Does the restaurant have a bad reputation? As for myself however, I never think much of an empty restaurant. In fact, I truly want to believe that empty restaurants are underrated which is why I like trying small family owned establishments or new restaurants. This includes Hwasarang, which was an empty restaurant on a weekday during the lunch rush hour.

Hwasarang is located on Denman and Haro street in Downtown Vancouver, serving Korean and Japanese cuisine. Majority of the items on the menu are Japanese oriented such as sushi, sashimi, teriyaki and udon, but there is one page of Korean dishes. Although unfortunately the restaurant does not offer galbi or gamjatang.

Like many Korean owned Japanese restaurants, Hwasarang has a faux white cherry blossom tree in the centre of the restaurant. The restaurant also has well spaced out tables and the seating arrangements are not too cramped.


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