Friday, July 13, 2007

Speed Blogging

It's summertime, it's hot, and who wants to be in front of their computer all day? So here are some quick 30 second impressions from a slew of restaurants that I've visited in the past, but haven't fully blogged. Whether any or all of these are a match to your own tastes is up to you.

Lolita's South of the Border Cantina (1326 Davie St., 604-696-9996). Delicious, genuinely tasty and interesting food, with very long waits for said food. Hugely busy, cramped, and popular with the cool kids, which makes the wait often just not worth the trouble unless you catch it at a less busy time. Great big glasses of Sangria will help with the waiting. Pricey for Mexican food, but fair for the quality of food. Go there when you have very good company, a lot of time to kill, and when you're not starving.

The Secret Garden Tea Company (5559 West Boulevard, just North of 41st, 604-261-3070). Home of my favourite tea - Creamy Earl Grey. Wonderful little treats for high tea, in a setting perfect for when you have a hankering to feel girly. Demi High Tea (12.95) is also available. I always leave this place happy.

Tacos Mexico Rico (309 West Pender, at Hamilton St., 604-688-7426). Cheap, tasty, and what I can only guess to be authentic Mexican fare in a friendly little quiet hole in the wall.

Kingyo (871 Denman St., near Robson, 604-608-1677). Great izakaya food that will appeal to the foodies who enjoy things like detecting the differences between the three kinds of salt served with their chicken karaage. Take their fresh fish of the day recommendations. I had the best Tai (snapper) that I've ever had there when I visited, but this is the kind of thing that varies constantly. Service is eager, yet sadly inexperienced, and when I went, almost a bit overbearingly attentive, but again, that's something that can vary considerably too. Stunning presentation on some sashimi served in a half-pipe of bamboo and decorated with Japanese Maple leaves. Worth a try, but expect to spend money on it.

Hamilton Street Grill (Yaletown). My second visit there, and my second experience where I had another lovely dinner foodwise, but had some service issues. Can't tell if it's because they're doing the "I'm only putting effort into the service when the customers look like they're going to spend big" or if they are just a bit disorganized in assigning tables to servers. At any rate, it's a good restaurant, with a nice owner/chef, but could do with some front of the house tweaking.

Danny's Wun Tun Restaurant (11666 Steveston Hwy #3050, Richmond, 604-277-3317). If you ever find yourself hungry while at the Ironwood Plaza Shopping Centre in Richmond, this is a nice little wun tun house. The real reason they are noteworthy is because the owners are just totally charming hosts, making this place popular with the Asian and non-Asian crowd.

Milestones, White Rock (3085 152nd St. in the South Point Exchange Shopping Centre of Highway 99). Just a note of caution that not all Milestones are created equal, despite their efforts to standardize. The kitchen at this one just does not seem up to snuff. Recipes must be fairly strict, but I have had over-vinegared, and over-salted food there that is barely edible. I've had mushy vegetables. I've had their spinach dip served in a bowl with tonnes of crusted over spinach dip clinging to the outside of their bowl that makes you wonder if it was from the contents or from another day. I've had a dirty mug brought to the table for my tea. Yes, I'm sure you're about to berrade me for going there in the first place, but it's really the only sit-down restaurant (aside from the new Cactus Club around the corner) in that shopping area, and it just happens to be a convenient stopping point on one of my routes. I have stopped going there. I have not given up all Milestones though. I go to the one on Robson St. sometimes.

Orchid Delight Restaurant (2445 Burrard St., north of Broadway, 604-831-0221). Nice, attractive Malaysian restaurant that shows Vancouver that you don't have to dine in a dive to have good Malaysian food. Solid renditions of tofu goreng ($6), spicy sambal kang kong ($11, it's a green veggie), and roti prata ($4.95) were presented. Good service. Only glitch that night was that I got the spicy sambal, even though I ordered mild, and thought throughout the meal that the spicy must REALLY be killer, if I was having trouble with the mild. Found out from the bill that it was just a mix-up. I was fine though.

So, tally up. Would you like to have dinner with any of these? At the risk of sounding terribly bitter, it seems as if there is almost always some sort of trade-off; do you want beauty, brains, authenticity, "sex appeal," attentiveness, boldness, adventure, and a good heart all in one (restaurant) package, or are you willing to settle for some combination of these? For me, I seek different combinations for different moods, but secretly, I am always questing after the whole package.


Mike said...

I have eaten at Hamilton St. Grill and found the food to be quite good. I have been there about four times and had good service twice, okay once and so-so once. I usually dine alone, sans alcohol, and wonder if that had anything to do with it.

Dumpling_Girl said...

Hi Mike,
It sounds like your experience is similar to mine. Like I say, I don't have anything really against the restaurant, and hope that my comments help them improve if anything, because good service two out of four is just not good enough. (Mine was two of two not good enough). Not sure if your comment about dining alone sans alcohol was excusing them or not, but in my mind, that's not acceptable. In my case, the first time I was dining with a man, so we looked like a couple, but not necessarily Yaletown-trendy. And the server did apologize for the delays and such, so at least he had a sense of what would be good service, but it still was clearly a bit disorganized. The second time, I dined alone, and I got the "OH" effect when I ordered a glass of wine, but they hadn't even assigned a server to me at all, and I was pretty patient before I managed to drag one over. So disorganized again, PLUS I do think the servers do some of that sizing up assumption thing when they look at you, which I think is snobby and simple-minded. Anyhow, management could improve things immensely just by making a simple change of tightening up the hosting - making sure that a server is assigned and checked on immediately, no matter what, as a minimum level of service. Wow, talking about it again has made me realize how really substandard the experiences were, especially for the price level of the restaurant. Food was quite good though, I agree.