2013 Year in Review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 73,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 3 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

2012 Year in Review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 170,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 3 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!

Click here to see the complete report.

Gyu-Kaku – Vancouver, BC


Gyu-Kaku
888 Nelson Street
Vancouver, BC
(604) 558-3885

With shrinking domestic markets and consumption, combined with growing awareness and demands overseas, we’re seeing more new entrants in various industries reach our borders.  Rumors of Japan’s massive clothing retailer Uniqlo apparently coming soon to Vancouver is one.  American’s Target and Nordstrom are also prime examples.  And the focus of this piece, the 600+ strong (in Japan) yakiniku chain Gyu-Kaku has steadily made its way with outposts in Asia and the US.  Canada was chosen as their beachhead into Canada, specifically downtown Vancouver.

Having been to several of their locations in Japan over the years on lazy meal nights when I was craving meat, news of Gyu-Kaku’s arrival in Vancouver personally didn’t excite me a great deal.  Its like a Vancouverite getting excited about a Cactus Club visit I suppose.  When its around you and very ubiquitous, the allure is simply not as high. So my eventual visit was even a random, impromptu one just last week.  I came away from the dinner pleased overall and with no major complaints and with a clear understanding it can’t be 100% replicated overseas.  From the very full room on a rainy, mid-week evening, its clear they have established a solid clientele already.  Kudos!

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Lucky Noodle – Vancouver, BC


Lucky Noodle
3-3377 Kingsway
Vancouver, BC
(604) 430-8818

The recent influx of Mainland Chinese has brought over more than just an increase in our real estate prices – they have also imported a taste for spicy Chinese food that until fairly recently, was relatively foreign to Vancouver. As recent as three or four years ago, I recall thinking how precious few places served authentic spicy Chinese food. And those that did specialize in these cuisines are often cloaked Cantonese kitchens that catered to the milder Cantonese palate – serving food that would not have satisfied the Mainlanders’ spice cravings. Over the recent years, with the increasing immigration of these “Northerners”,  the number of spicy Chinese restaurants has been steadily increasing to the point where I think we now have enough of a selection to have a solid week-to-week rotation of places to eat.

I still think we don’t have an exemplary Sichuan restaurant (especially after losing a very good one in Chuan Xiang Ge in Richmond), but I think we have Yunan covered (S&W Pepperhouse in Crystal Mall and their less able branch in Richmond), and we now have two very good Hunan joints to choose from: Alvin Garden (Burnaby) and Lucky Noodle (Collingwood).

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Sal y Limon – Vancouver, BC


Sal y Limon
701 Kingsway Ave
Vancouver BC
(604) 677-4247

I’m a big fan of Kingsway as a foodist’s destination. The scruffiness of this diagonal slash of a street seems to impose a level of gastronomic authenticity that you will not see in other parts of this city. Embedded into the various strip malls along this drag are some true gems – mostly of the ethnic hole-in-the-wall variety. This road is of course well known to fans of Vietnamese food, but this post is about a Mexican Tacos and Tortas newcomer to the section many people call “The Triangle” at corner of Fraser St.

When someone texted me a picture of the menu of this newly opened hole in the wall a couple of weeks ago, I was instantly intrigued and have been angling to check it out. The subsequent social media buzz about this restaurant further stoked my interest.

I finally made the effort last week and ordered a selection of tacos (al pastor, cordero, pernil) and a carne asada torta (grilled beef sandwich). The tacos are small (as they should be) and served on doubled-up tortillas…but they were not inexpensive at $2.25 each – about the same range as La Taqueria’s offerings. A bit high for Kingsway joint, I thought.

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Thanh Xuan (Revisited) – Vancouver, BC


Thanh Xuan
2261 Kingsway
Vancouver, BC
(604) 439-9696

When Goa Girl posted that she missed the banh cuon from the late lamented Northern Vietnamese restaurant Truong Thranh, I thought it was time to revisit Thanh Xuan, a Kingsway hole-in-the-wall that I knew specializes in this Vietnamese delicacy. I blogged about this place around the time I first encountered it, and I haven’t really been back for quite some time, so I finally found an excuse to return.

Banh cuon, a simple steamed rice flour crepe, is a common breakfast dish originating from Northern Vietnam. Like most of Vietnam’s indigenous food, however, banh cuon’s true origins are in Southern China – specifically from the familiar cheong fun, the rice roll you will find in all dim sum menus.  The methods of preparation are quite similar – rice starch batter (often augmented with wheat, tapioca or other starches) is steamed to form a thin sheet over boiling water. While cheong fun is steamed in shallow metal trays, bank cuon is steamed in a specially constructed pot which has a fine cloth tautly stretched over the opening.

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Anatolia Express – Vancouver, BC


Anatolia Express
Unit 40 1055 Canada Place
Vancouver, BC
(604) 647-7550

This recently opened downtown “outpost” of the much loved Turkish restaurant Anatolia’s Gate in Burnaby has a comparatively pared-down menu, but a number of the favourites are here including their stuffed pide. Sadly missing is their lavash which, at the Burnaby location, comes out of their pizza oven puffed up to the size of a baleen whale. Also, the flavours of the dishes here are subdued compared to those at the mothership.

The eggplant salad, for example, lacks the lovely smokiness of its fire broiled sibling in Burnaby. The portion sizes are also slightly miniaturized for area’s the take-out market

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