Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Café Phin and Pho, on Denman

Oops, sometimes I get excited and start eating before I remember to take a photo.  Normally, I try to spare the public and the restaurant from pictures of my half decimated food.  In this case though, I really wanted to give a shout out to this great little Vietnamese place on Denman Street, at Nelson, called Café Phin and Pho. Their food is really fresh, the flavours are balanced and interesting, and the service is really friendly - they always make me feel welcome.  It is a little counter service place , and is fairly new.  Portions are big, too.  I find it a good sign that their reading material has food magazines.  I've been here several times.  I am so happy to have such a good pho place downtown.   I can even snag free parking out front sometimes if I have my car and am stopping by after 6 pm.  I've had the special beef pho, spring rolls, salad rolls, and the pork belly on vermicelli (served with papaya salad!), and it's all been good.  

Monday, June 09, 2014

Dinner and a Movie Downtown: Kamei Baru, next to ScotiaBank Theatre

Kamei Baru is a great place to grab a bite and drinks before or after a movie at the ScotiaBank Theatre on Burrard St. at .  It has a huge menu of Japanese pub food, with both classic and "fusion" dishes, loads of cocktails, and other drinks.  So many dishes sounded good, I had trouble deciding.  That's one sign of a great menu for me - I actually want to come back to try other things on it.  Even the classic agedashi tofu ($5.50) got a bit of a modern spin, with super thin beet and squash chips on top as a garnish (although I was missing a more aggressive green onion flavour, I appreciated the beauty of the topping, and the generous portion size, as well as the bed of grated daikon, which was not lacking, as it can sometimes be in some cheap sushi places).  The waitress also poured the dashi sauce table side, which I very much appreciated, as I'm always wanting to make sure that the fried batter does not get too soggy in my agedashi tofu.  Prices were quite reasonable in general but I can imagine it adding up quickly if drinking and eating a lot here, depending on what you are ordering.

Another thing that I like about this place is that it is authentically Japanese.  I had oyster motoyaki (delicious and very rich, served in an escargot dish, with a couple slices of baguette), negitoro roll (very nicely done), agedashi tofu, and their special "30 spice" wine curry with pork cutlet, served with rice and shredded cabbage.  I also had their lychee margarita, a blended drink and want to try their signature Earl Grey gin drinks next time.  I even got to sit outside on a nice warm night (they have two two-tops on the sidewalk) but this was a bit marred by being downwind of the occasional smoker outside of the theatre.  Their sandwich board listed Japan's dates for the World Cup and there were many TV screens for sports inside.  Service was pretty good, especially considering that they had to step outside to take care of me.  I hope this restaurant sticks around.  It's at a great convenient spot, and pretty close to Robson St. if you are looking for a place to recharge when shopping too.