House of Wings – Burnaby, BC


House of Wings Restaurant And Lounge
7155 Kingsway
Burnaby, BC
(604) 540-6465

Sports on big screens + beer + wings.  A trademark trio of any proud joint that offers the key staples that satisfy the average athletics loving, red-blooded Canadian male when out for some drinks with the boys.  Throw in some pretty girls as service staff and a win for the home team, and you pretty much have paradise.  Yes, men are easy to please.

With the Canucks season long over, the tv sports scene is in a state of limbo, as its still early in the MLB season and football is still months away, so the likes of MMA (such as last night’s UCF 114, and the upcoming UFC 115 in Vancouver) are what keep most of these places busy with thirsty customers on a late weekend evening.  And to fill the seats before the rush, is that phenomenon called happy hour (with 37 cent wings).

With a name like House of Wings, frankly they better do a good job with these chicken appendages.  As the other wings place down the road was busy with a public fund raising event, it became the default choice for this quick stop with tee.

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Lattanzi – New York, NY


Lattanzi Ristorante Italiano
361 West 46 Street
New York, NY
(212) 315-0980

My experiences in New York City are very limited and thus the confidence and knowledge I have about where the good places are to eat is still very much a work in progress.  So much so that I didn’t even realize that I’d stumbled upon “Restaurant Row”, a stretch of 46th street in the theater district, which is home to a compact area of assorted restaurants.   With no set plan and aimless wandering on a photo walk just to get a feel for this part of town, we came upon this area with empty stomachs and just as the sun was setting and the scene was turning dark.   It was later that I learned that there is a general consensus that this area is not considered the best of what NYC has to offer, but I did appreciate the look and feel of this strip, especially for its cozy setup and ease of access to several restaurants to eat at.  For the lazy visitor to the city, its a welcome arrangement.  And in the mood for Italian, Lattanzi appeared before us and we stepped inside.

Without a reservation, we were asked to have  a seat at the bar just down the stairs from the street side entrance, and it was about fifteen minutes before a table opened up.  Typical New York, as the other patrons enjoying a drink included a pair of talkative and flirty cougars who were pounding back martinis and clearly were inebriated, and a trio of artsy-types going over some sketches of what looked to be an interior design project.  To complete the Italian experience, the bartender was a greasy, slicked back hair fellow, with a notable Italian accent.  While waiting, it was interesting to see the clientele of this place dining inside –  some older couples and groups, obvious casually dressed tourists, and then several really attractive models and their entourages had overtaken the second floor area.

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Ristorante Avanti – Santa Cruz, CA


Ristorante Avanti
1711 Mission Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

(831) 427-0135

Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.
Wouldn’t you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came.

I recall that the brilliant food writer Jonathan Gold once wrote that he’s been to Campanile in Los Angeles hundreds of times.  When I read that maybe 10 or 15 years ago, I couldn’t even fathom such a concept.  But now the combination of steady employment and living in one place for a good chunk of time has conspired to generate a small handful of places that I’ve been to so many times and with which I have such a relationship that it’s less a business and more an annex of my own home.  One of them is Ristorante Avanti, owned and run by Cindy and Paul Geise for over twenty years and still going strong.

What leads me and the many other regulars to return so often? I suspect it’s the combination of well-executed food with a menu that has both dishes that I know will be available when I’m in need of something tried, true and delicious, and a rotating list of daily specials that ensures there’s always something new and exciting to try.

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Alvin Garden [Revisited] – Burnaby, BC


Alvin Garden
4850 Imperial Street
Burnaby, BC
(604) 437-0828

Wow, its been over a year since gastro first introduced (it seems, to the world) this Hunan Chinese restaurant on the pages of foodosophy.  Much has been written about it since in the blogosphere, and it now has its share of fiery (to match the food) fans.  Pretty impressive for a place with a somewhat odd sounding English name, Alvin Garden.

Despite passing it numerous times since but never having solid plans to venture in with a group, I recently broke the barrier and visited as a solo lunch diner, just to get myself a small sample.  Well aware the experience in Chinese cuisine is best shared across many plates and with as large a party as possible in order to get a full range experience, I temper this report by saying that I only had one of their single plate, lunch specials.   As I looked around, there were just two other tables of two occupied this noon hour and from what I could tell, they were all doing the same kind of ordering.  With lunch deals in the seven to eight dollar zone, its not a bad idea.

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Pho Hoa – Seattle, WA


Pho Hoa
618 S Weller Street
Seattle, WA
(206) 624-7189

The International District of Seattle is sort of a dodgy place in the very late evening hours.  Whenever I’m there, I always get accosted by some homeless folk, and it happened again this time strolling through there seeking a place to eat.  As we navigated the streets and noticed that we were approaching the closing time of several restaurants in the area, we quickly popped into a familiar sight from Vancouver – a Vietnamese pho joint.

According to the company’s website, “in 1983, the first Pho Hoa restaurant opened in San Jose with a tiny kitchen and a few seats”.  Its now branched out to many other areas across North America and surprisingly even into some countries in Asia.  Not really knowing this, it was kind of strange to run into the familiar signage on the streets of this city in the Pacific Northwest.

It seemed that we were not the only ones with some late night hunger pains, as inside the place was occupied with a few larger groups of Asian youths.  With some pressure to get our orders into the kitchen before they gave up on the night, we began with a duo of spring rolls – one deep fried, the other fresh.  In hindsight, I suppose ordering anything cooked in a vat of hot oil at the end of a restaurant’s business hours is not wise, as the oil is probably very stale and infused with a lot of impurities.  I didn’t notice any foul scent nor was it overly colored, so it seemed like we lucked out.

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Hayashi Sushi – New Westminster, BC


Hayashi Sushi
1065 Columbia St
New Westminster, BC
(604) 527-1194

Hayashi Sushi is located in a newish commercial shopping area off Columbia Street that cuts through this riverside town.  Nearby are New West stalwarts such as Burger Heaven and Cockney Kings Fish & Chips (the subject of a future post in the foodosophy backlog).  It is a mid-sized, Korean-operated, Japanese cuisine restaurant, with takeaway options.  For this visit, that’s exactly what I did.

After placing my order, I waited in a nearby booth and was offered a cup of hot tea to pass the time.  The restaurant started filling up with other dine-in customers while I waited, so seemingly is a frequented place by locals.  With only one man behind the sushi counter, my large order of various pieces of nigiri sushi took some time to prepare.  Some of them are pictured below, but it was not the entire lot, as by the time I got it to our group for eating, some were more anxious than others and couldn’t wait for me to finish taking pictures. 🙂

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Bobby Van’s – New York City, NY


Bobby Van’s Steakhouse
135, West 50th Street
New York, NY
(212) 957-5050

New York City has a plethora of eating options but for some reason, steakhouses come top of mind for me. From old school style establishments to the hip and trendy, steakhouses in this city seemingly have something for everyone seeking out a piece of grilled meat.

Having spent the greater part of the day flying to the east coast, further extended by the weather delays into the airport, I was in a glum mood trudging along the streets of midtown Manhattan in some windy and rainy conditions. With a hockey game on the tele that I was missing, I knew I had to find a place to eat that was showing the game. As we came upon the doors of Bobby Van’s (I couldn’t help but chuckle at the irony of the name of this place and the Canucks misfortunes), I could make out a long white marble topped counter bar, a packed house and some overhead screens, one of which was showing the end of the Montreal-Philly game.

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