Monday, July 27, 2015

You'd Never Guess How Good This Place Is...Teriyaki Bowl Japanese Restaurant

I could pass this place a hundred times without suspecting that it was anything more than the dozen or so mediocre and inauthentic Japanese places in the area, but this one is really authentic.    Teriyaki Bowl Japanese Restaurant is on Broadway St., between Alma and Dunbar St.

It's simple and comforting, like visiting a sweet aunt and uncle that want to feed you - that is, if your aunt and uncle were great Japanese cooks.

It's not much to look at inside, with just a few tables, and you order at the counter, but it's cheap and delicious. You can eat in, and they'll serve the food on pretty Japanese dishes.  Many people seem to take out.  I've been there twice, and both times did not take photos of the food unfortunately.  Everything looked beautiful though (unlike many of the mediocre places at the same price point who mangle their sushi rolls).  I had a chicken udon and inari sushi combo from the specials board (came with three inari nigiri), and it was really wonderful, and very reasonable (I think only $8.75, but can't remember exactly).  The chicken udon had lots of tender chicken pieces, slices of the pink swirl fish cake, a bit of broccoli and carrot, and a delightful clear and clean, yet flavourful broth.  I also had their negitoro roll which was very good.  I liked their pickled ginger too.  Their agedashi tofu is not deep fried like other places, but the sauce is richly flavoured and deeply satisfying (I was basically drinking some of the sauce afterwards with a spoon - that's how much I liked it) .  I've had their katsudon in the past and enjoyed it very much as well. On a chilly day, the chicken udon or the rice bowls are ideal warming comfort meals.  It's only open until 8 pm though.  Take-out containers are nice round cardboard ones, so kudos to them for not using styrofoam or plastic.  Not a fancy pick, but just unexpectedly well-executed food and authenticity in a neighbourhood (Kitsilano) that doesn't particularly foster these qualities.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Spicy 6 Indian Restaurant: Redefining Buffet Food Quality in the City

 The hot buffet cart (the cold cart not pictured here).  Please excuse the quality - I was too shy about taking photos to get a good shot.  Food looked great. 

I've only visited once for buffet lunch (and frankly don't know how I've missed this place for the last year and a bit it's been open on Robson St. in the former Thai House upstairs space, between Thurlowe and Bute in downtown Vancouver), but I'm ready to go out on a limb and give a hearty recommendation to this restaurant for the buffet at lunch or for any other time.  I'm happy to see that they also have delivery and their own online ordering system on their website.  My reasoning for this is that often the buffet is where things are more lacklustre in order to be able to offer unlimited quantities, but here, the buffet had tremendously flavourful dishes, a nice selection, and fresh tasting food.  The buffet was well presented and fully refreshed.

The naan, which is best made to order, was brought to the table hot and fresh, with great texture, and was just fantastic.  There was not any item that disappointed, and several were stand outs.  I particularly enjoyed the tasty spicing on their tandoori chicken (which is a specialty of theirs), and the meat was tender and not dry.  I was really impressed with the paneer saag (paneer cheese with pureed spinach) as it was bright in both colour and flavour and very different from the pukey green versions I've seen at other places that I avoid and  that I feel are a disservice to spinach.  I enjoyed the mixed vegetable dish which allowed the individual vegetables to still come through.  I also noticed the lovely texture of the gulab jamun and flavour of the syrup (dessert, fried dough balls in a warm syrup) and think it's exceptional.  I liked the potato dish too (but unfortunately can't remember the name of the dish, though everything was nicely labelled).  There was a nice selection of items and I enjoyed it all, including the lamb curry, aloo gobi, chickpea curry, butter chicken (yes, a little on the sweet side, but the chicken is not overcooked and dried out like other places, so quite nice), vegetable pakoras, a few salads, rice, raita, chutneys, rice pudding, and another fried vegetable patty.  I had a chai today, which was fine.   When I come back, I'd like to try their samosas which weren't in the buffet today.

It should be noted that the lunch buffet ($13.99) is now offered only Monday to Friday (and I think that this might have actually been added to the sandwich board while I was dining today, because I was thinking how great it was that they were offering buffet on the weekend) but like I said, I would expect this high quality of food to be there for their regular a la carte menu also.  The service was also excellent and friendly - very attentive, ice water glass refilled always, and very nice.  The room is comfortable and bright with tall ceilings and skylights.  I hope that the second floor location doesn't put people off too much.  I was enamoured with two wooden carved camels that were on a shelf.  It's a nice looking place but not fancy.  When I asked about the restaurant, the server mentioned that they have experience with opening 22 other restaurants.  I am hoping this place does well and stays around for a long time (which is difficult on this street).  It was fairly quiet today, but there were other tables.  Their Yelp reviews are great and their sandwich board on the sidewalk is eye-catching (I certainly would have given it a shot just passing by, as a place to replenish and recover from shopping).  I got a bit excited today and came away pretty stuffed even though I was trying to be very careful by eating small bites very slowly.  But I was in surveying mode, and wanted to try everything. For me, it would be worth coming back even just for the tandoori.  Save room for a little gulab jamun if you like that sort of thing.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Overrated Donut: Cartems

Okay, to be fair, I only tried one donut and may have picked the very worst donut on offer, but here's where I'm coming from - when was the last time you ate a purchased donut from anywhere and didn't enjoy it?  It's like that line that goes something like "even bad ____ is good!"   Fill in the blank yourself.  What I'm saying is that I shouldn't be able to pick out a bad donut if a donuterie knows what it is doing.  So I picked out this yeast dough donut with a rhubarb compote.  

Things looked promising as the donut was attractive.  Also, points for an original flavour, and actually the compote tasted pretty good and not very sweet which is novel for a donut.  However the texture seemed too mushy to feel appropriate in the middle of this donut (was starting to eat around the filling to avoid that soggy zone of contact with the dough).  

The dough itself was nothing to write home about, quite heavy for a yeast dough and to be perfectly honest, kind of greasy like they didn't get the temperature right.  The taste of the oil seemed fine though - sort of old fashioned tasting or vaguely something like a Chinese donut (peanut oil maybe? Not sure).  

After I talked about enjoying very much the donuts at the W. 4th Forty-ninth Parallel, someone told me that Cartems was better, so I came in with high hopes. Though disappointed, I'll say that this shop on Pender St at Seymour is an absolutely lovely place to sit - bright, modern, clean, roomy, quiet, relaxed, and comfortable with friendly service.  The drip coffee is from Elysian, so nice high quality coffee (but the particular bean that I had was too acidic and fruity for my personal taste).  Both my drip coffee and donut were $3 each, and pour over coffee and cold brew coffee was available, but interestingly no espresso drinks.  

I was raving about Lucky's Donuts and 49th Parallel before so I'll end with that recommendation.  I've had and been impressed with several of their donut flavours and I'd much rather be there with a great donut and whatever coffee I wanted.  I'll try another Cartems' at some point probably when I next find myself looking for a coffee shop on this block and will update if it changes my impression significantly.  

Monday, March 16, 2015

New Deacon's Corner in Kits

A promising first stop at the new Deacon's Corner.  I ordered the atypical special of the day, pesto and chicken macaroni with garlic toast and salad.  Enjoyed it but I think regular menu items would have been better.  I liked the generous portion, good value, friendly service, comfortable atmosphere, and the fact that it was licensed.  Patio was under some final construction,  but looked like it'll be great.  Will be back.