Delicias de Alicia – Burnaby, BC

Delicias de Alicia
4854 Imperial Street
Burnaby, BC
(604) 569-1575

Since the dawn of the ancient world, human beings have always flocked to establish settlements near sources of abundant and clean water.  For without this life providing and replenishing liquid, we would all perish.  Water brings with it the ability to generate all kinds of necessities, one of the most important being food and edible nutrients.  As you look around at the societies around the world and the relative priority they have placed on developing and maintaining a rich food culture, I for one feel that for the most part, those that are closer to the world’s oceans tend to have a slight edge in terms of the diversity and overall sense of pride that they have when it comes to their country’s food.  For landlocked regions can have their vegetables and four legged animals, but what is missing is the bounty of the seas.

Coupled with the actions of man through its exploration of the world’s seas and establishment of colonies in the New World, these places near water have benefited greatly from their interaction with a constant flow of new ideas, ingredients and more established Old World food cultures and has brought about some interesting hybrids.

Cuba, the island nation of just over 11 million citizens, is one such place that has seen its share of conquerors and an influx of people who’ve established roots (willingly and by force) in the country and contributed to the creation of a blended cuisine.  Of note, the dominant influence of the Spanish colonizers, the traditions of the African continent brought by the unfortunate slaves who were trafficked here against their will centuries ago, the coming and going of other European sea-faring powers of yesteryear such as the French, the Dutch, and not to forget the more “local” influences of their Central American neighbors.

Though I have never personally visited the country, I do have some friends who have over the years.  Their reaction has been somewhat mixed when it comes to their food experiences.  Perhaps its the limiting menu that is highlighted mainly by the use of beans, rice, some kind of stem/root tuber and soup that soon bored them, but those are the memories they’ve shared with me.

So when I randomly spotted the signage for a newly opened Cuban restaurant called Delicias de Alicia, situated right next door to Gastronomydomine’s beloved Alvin Garden, I was instantly curious.  This spartan establishment featuring the cuisine of the Caribbean nation of Cuba has seemingly garnered a feverish and loyal following already – judging from the busy silhouettes of people I see inside when I’ve driven by in the evening hours on a few occasions.  And on a rainy afternoon when I needed a quick takeout lunch as I was in the area, I parked in a spot around back and made my way inside for my first experience here.

Despite the noon hour timing, there were no other customers inside.  I could see a man and a woman in the back kitchen and it took a while to get their attention.  The older man came out to greet me and explained that their fryer was experiencing some problems, so some things wouldn’t be available – the deep fried plantains – for example.  He said he could substitute it with the yuca with mojo though so no huge disappointment was expected as I ordered my meal, the fricase de pollo.

The man in a very low raspy voice also informed me that he could whip up some of the specials on the board faster if I was in a hurry, but I said that was okay as I wanted to try one of their menu staples.  As he returned the kitchen and I waited, and waited, and waited some more, I regretted my decision to take a less quicker to prepare dish, it was a good 30 minutes before it was ready to go.  Though I’m unsure if the specials would have indeed come out any quicker, as they seemed to be on that molasses slow Latin clock.

If I were to surmise my meal once I got out the door and at a table to sit at, I would have to say that it was overall quite bland.  Not bad, just not taste bud stimulating.  From the starchy and fibrous yuca that just gave off the aroma of garlic and seemingly doused with oil, to the under-seasoned chicken leg that had skin that just wasn’t quite crispy enough for my liking.  The meat itself was juicy and tender however, so plus points for that effort.

The mixed rice and beans was probably the thing I best of this bland lot out of all of the plate’s components.  While again not overly flavorful, the combination of ingredients in each mouthful was acceptable and most of all, filling.  The pleasant surprise in all this was despite the concentration of beans, there was none of that chalky, powdery texture coming out from them as you bit into them.

Its highly unlikely I will ever go back, as I guess I like my food with a bit more enthusiasm and excitement and not so monotonous in flavour.

Delicias de Alicia Cuban Food on Urbanspoon

12 thoughts on “Delicias de Alicia – Burnaby, BC

  1. I think your experience easily match that of peopel not used to Latin American food: in a way, it is somewhat bland plus a bit of an acquired taste. In the case of rice and beans, despite its lack of flavour, it is heavily consumed because it provides all necessary nutrients for cheap. At times, that overrules taste.

    Despite this experience was way sub-par, please do not give up non-Mexican Latin food. There are some gems worth visiting, though, you might need some digging around and a lot of patience (as some dishes are not suited to all tastebuds).

    • By no means have I given up on Latino food – just this place which was so god awful slow in getting food out the kitchen when I was the only order and the completely flatness of flavour in this dish I had. I’m sure there are plenty of creations out there that are much more robust and have at least a spike of interest on the tongue in terms of being savory, spicy, whatnot, so the complete opposite of this takeout meal.

  2. This little place looks neat and clean. Raw chicken from our local supermarkets are horrible in taste, from a cook’s viewpoint. I’m basing my experience from living abroad in Europe, Asia and Australia. Taiwanese immigrants must have noticed this too and they started farms of free-range chicken. It can improve the taste by lightly marinate (with salt & pepper) raw chicken pieces for 15-20 minutes and lightly brown the skin in advance, then followed by the rest of the recipe.

    Perhaps the portion of rice and beans is a bit generous given the fact that it is not a staple for everyone. Some julienned cucumber, carrot, red onion, jicama,red pepper can add colors to the presentation.

    • My guess is that the interior was not much different from whatever business previously occupied this spot as it was very bare bones.

      I could see the addition of some of those veggies giving this meal some much needed flavour.

      • Delicias de Alicias took over the spot formerly occupied by Kiss Yo Mama, and it looked quite a bit different inside from when I had eated at Kiss Yo Mama. I think that is because they expanded the kitchen area (thus shrinking the dining area)?

        • No, no, just realized I was all wrong on that. The reason the Delicias de Alicias space looks different is that it is a different space–not Kiss Yo Mama’s old space, which is the next block. My mistake.

          • No worries! I’ve not been to that place you’ve mentioned before, although I’ve heard of it. Care to share your thoughts so I know what to expect should I make a visit to Kiss Yo Mama (if it still exists?)…

            • Kiss Yo Mama was a Jamaican restaurant that was only up and running for maybe a year, perhaps a bit more or a bit less. It actually reminded me a bit of Delicias de Alicias in that it seemed like someone’s home-cooking.

              The woman that ran the place had been the cook at the restaurant that was in the same spot before Kiss Yo Mama’s and that had failed too. I remember her implying that the previous failure was somehow the owner’s fault, but obviously it was not a good location or perhaps it was the food.

              I thought the food was okay, but nothing special. My husband, on the other hand, really loved the Jerk Chicken there.

  3. The lettuce in the styro-foam is kind of outdated. Slices of red onion, beetroot, olive are inexpensive and easy to prepare. There are nice photos of Cuban salads on google.

  4. Pingback: Delicias de Alicia: Cuban Comfort Food « Vancouver Bites!

  5. Their personal circumstances and the
    unique kitchen layout explain some of it.
    Placement of food on dish, timing by ear, etc.

    Courage in the kitchen
    By Alfie Lau, Burnaby Now September 1, 2010

    …Alicia, blind since birth, does all the cooking in the cozy Imperial Street eatery while Rolf, almost two years recovered from throat cancer surgery that still leaves him with a gravelly voice, is the server, host and accountant for the restaurant that opened its doors on March 2nd.
    Making the story even more unbelievable is that before this year, neither Alicia or Rolf had any professional restaurant experience: Alicia, trained as a physiotherapist in her Holguin, Cuba, home, discovered that her credentials weren’t recognized in Canada. Rolf worked as a geophysicist until his throat cancer scare and when he was ready to return to work, the global economic meltdown melted away his job. … [ more ]

    Read more:

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