Foodosophy Restaurant Update – May 2010

Previous monthly recaps (1, 2).

While there is still general interest in checking out the new hot spots as well as venturing into random finds, it seems lately there is a draw also to those places we’ve been to before that were either eye opening on first glance or generally consistent in subsequent visits that keep bringing us back.  Here’s a few more updates on previous foodosophy write ups…

1. Menya – Vancouver, BC

I lamented the fact last year that I noticed that Menya had gone away from the skinny traditional Hakata-style noodle to a much thicker variety.

But given its more relatively easier to access location (as I dread the downtown core), I’ve gone to Menya regardless mainly out of an acceptance of their decent (but not great) ramen offering, and location.  Thinking it was still the case, I was surprised to find over a recent lunch that they now offer a choice of noodle.

Back to skinny it was again!  Yes, call me a traditionalist.  I picked up that the soup has been “diluted/watered down” compared to the past, thus reducing the saltiness of it – one of major themes coming out of the online criticism of this place in its early days.  Perhaps they are adjusting their soup base to appease these customers?

For the first time, I gave the Yamagata Onigiri (rice ball) a try.  An earthy mixture of quality rice with some earthy ingredients (reminded me of takikomi gohan/gomoku gohan, I enjoyed this.  I’m finding that the busy crowds most times I am here does result in the delay or mix up of orders from time to time.

My plate of gyoza was an example of this, as I had to remind them of it when I was practically done my bowl of ramen.  As a result of the seemingly rushed cooking time, it was underdone and had none of the crispy bottom that I expect as standard.

2. Tenku Bakudanyaki – Richmond, BC

As I’d mentioned when I did my first stop over at Shoryumen, this former barren parking lot has turned into a mini outdoor food court.  With a long time between visits, I was anxious to see if I’d enjoy the creative bakudanyaki.

Going back to basics with their original type, I found it not as enjoyable as I remembered the curry flavored variation that I had on my first trip here.

The wasabi-added type didn’t fare much better.  Both suffered from a lack of a well rounded crispy exterior.

It seemed like less time was given to prepare it.  I don’t mind the wait if it turns out a better product.  Not sure if this is an aberration, or just the way they do things now.

3. Meok Ja Gol – Burnaby, BC

This understated Korean restaurant on Kingsway has become the definitive spot for Korean comfort food at a reasonable price.  In fact, I’d say that I’ve been completely satisfied with everything that has come out of the kitchen each and every time.  I haven’t made my way through the entire menu, but will get to it gradually.

Although the night air outside still had a bit of an early spring chill, I asked if the mul naengmyeon could be ordered (as its more of a summer time dish).  Fortunately, it was and I was certainly impressed.  The simplicity of the broth is often misunderstood, and how difficult it is to get right.  The noodles had that delightful chewy texture despite being of a very thin type, and the fresh cut assortment of vegetables added the crisp texture element.

Completely overlooked til this night was the fact that Meok Ja Gol has Korean-style spicy fried chicken (yangnyeom chicken) buried in their menu.  This was a massive plate of big chunks of bone-in chicken meat coated in a fiery hot and sweet sauce.  Easily, this was the spiciest version of this dish I’ve had so far in the GVRD.  So much in one order, half of it had to be wrapped up to go.  Pretty impressive on both flavour and portion size!

4. Las Tortillas – Calgary, AB

Though a little out of the way (ideal if you are traveling to/from the airport though as a nice detour), this bare bones Mexican eatery (wouldn’t stretch to call it a restaurant as it has one communal table inside) is one of my favorite stops whenever I’m in southern Alberta.

This time, I managed to try the beef tongue (bottom right of the image), cut in a good 1cm thickness and oh so tender – not what you’d normally associate with this generally tough and chewy part of a beef cattle.   The spicy green salsa was insane, blowing me away as usual.  But I’m positive it wouldn’t be the same without it.  Make sure to get it loaded with all the toppings and squeeze the lime slice to add the acidity to complete the kaleidoscope of taste exploding in your mouth!

For the first time, I tried the tamale (w/pork).  Made from that same masa cornmeal mixture that they sell on the shelves in the store, it was my first time really having this, and I didn’t come away blown away by any means.  Soft in texture and doughy in consistency, I could see how its a simple morning meal but one I could probably do without.

New note, on Saturdays-only the owner (a native of Guadalajara) mentioned they also make available a dish called torta ahogada, translated loosely as a drowned sandwich.  Apparently, its full of spicy goodness (having been dunked in a sauce made primarily of chillies) and is a traditional thing to eat when you’re hung over. 🙂  My Mexican friends tell me you can even find it served with beer in Mexico, nothing like licking the hair of the dog!

5. Empanada Queen – Calgary, AB

A trip to the above mentioned Las Tortillas wouldn’t be complete with a complementary stop at this Chilean joint that looks like a pizzaria, but its real magic comes from its Latin American roots and menu items.

The empanadas are the best I’ve had (with no real reference to it in the native lands), the deep fried ones so crispy and light, and packed with an oozy, salty cheese.

Its a great deal for a dozen, and had I not had to get on a plane, I probably would buy these and take them home if I were living in Cowtown.

Served by the same friendly fellow I see working inside the prep area every time, he also whips up a refreshing and flavor-adding bowl of aji.

Next time I am in the YYC, I need to give the pastel de choclo a try, as I’ve heard good things.

6. Meshiya Hachibei – Vancouver, BC

For home-style Japanese cooking, especially when it involves the deep fried dishes, my go-to place has quickly become this tiny joint in Fairview on 16th Ave.  There’s just something about the breading and the excellent way they fry things up like tonkatsu, that makes this place appear on my hit list.  Slightly pricier than other places, but the quality here speaks for itself, from the rice to the miso shiru.

7. Burger Burger – New Westminster, BC

And lastly, the tried and true, great value of this old school burger joint never gets old.  I hope it never goes away…

6 thoughts on “Foodosophy Restaurant Update – May 2010

  1. Nothing wrong about visiting places you have been before. I do go back to a lot of those places I have blogged previously just because I want to have a meal without having to take pictures, make mental notes about the food and so on! 😀

    OK, need to go back to Burger Burger, hehehehe.

    • Follow up meals are great to get even more pics, don’t forget to do that KimHo. 🙂 And yea, BB deserves multiply repeat visits, its so great and won’t break the bank.

  2. Yup, revisiting is a good idea. Sometimes I rewrite whole posts since the old one doesn’t apply. I like those updates, especially the one on Menya. I didn’t know about the noodle choice. And of course, Burger Burger. My personal favourite burger spot in town. Hey Kim, wanna do a 3rd visit to Irashai? No? I figured as much! LOL…

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