Nan Chuu – Richmond, BC


Nan Chuu Japanese Izakaya
1160-8391 Alexandra Road
Richmond, BC
(604) 276-8391

Its been a while since this visit to Richmond actually took place, but as with many restaurant experiences, something that happened remains strongly ingrained in my memory that I just can’t shake and its what I’ve come to associate with Nan Chuu as a result.  Marketing and branding experts would call this a touch point or moment of truth – when a customer comes into contact with any dimension of the restaurant and something is noticed, assessed and interpreted about the enterprise.  For me on this particular weekday evening (incidentally not too early or late enough to avoid the horribly inadequate parking situation near this part of town), it was the a flurry of awkward service interactions that disrupted the enjoyment of an otherwise decent array of dishes sampled. 

It stemmed from an apparent lack of training or preparedness on the part of both the experienced Japanese-speaking veteran servers and those who clearly had no idea what a waitress is supposed to do.  The language barrier between the Japanese and Chinese speaking staff was apparent to me.  From what I could overhear from the obvious floor manager/lead wait staff member, there was also a new girl who had recently come to BC after a working-holiday stint in one of Banff’s better known Japanese restaurants.  She seemed to know what she was doing from the get-go, but was getting some finer tips from her team lead.  There were two other girls who looked identical to eat other with their dark colored hipster glasses and long dark hair, and my guess would have put them at barely being legal to serve alcoholic beverages.

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Papalote – San Francisco, CA


Papalote Mexican Grill
3409 24th Street
San Francisco, CA
(415) 970-8815

In seeing Shokutsu’s review of venerable Mission Burrito institution Papalote, it got me thinking. It’s so interesting how two people with a similar philosophy and preferences can look at a similar place with a completely different view point when dining in isolation.  Especially when they come in with different expectations. From his perspective, it was a recommendation from a local guide. “Several good meals” had been had. A solid, yet unspectacular review.

On the other hand, in my never ending quest for great burrito’s, driven by my first experiences in Pasadena CA, I ran across super burrito fan website burritoeater several years ago, who consistently had the Mission location of Papalote rated in the top 3.  Of particular note was the consistently high scores for the Carne Asada and the Tofu. The carniverous side of me was intrigued that someone who was so diligent and structured in his passion for burritos could place tofu on the same pantheon as meat!! Truly shocking.

Just off the corner of Valencia and 24th, around the corner from my favorite San Francisco coffee house Ritual Coffee Roasters, Papalote can be difficult location to spot.
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Shilla Tteokgalbi Chongshik – Gyeongju, KOR


Shilla Tteokgalbi Chongshik
226 Nodong-dong, Gyeongju City
North Gyeongsang Province, South Korea
(054) 741-7600

On day two of this three-day visit to Gyeongju, we continued to mow through the list of restaurants that my local friend had created through his own research and advice from contacts very familiar with the area. Nestled in a building that was offset from the main street that we navigated through on this rainy evening was Shilla Tteokgalbi Chongshik.  As we climbed up the stairs to the main entrance, we were quickly greeted by a gentleman who seemed to be the manager this evening.  Occupying the entire second floor, it was quite spacious inside.

As mainstream Korean cuisine overseas is highly associated with beef, in particular barbecue, our visit on this occasion was to explore another meaty dish.  Tteokgalbi is derived from the words for marinated meat and also those thin sticky rice cakes.  But, there are no such rice cakes involved at all in this.  In fact, I’d describe it as being more like a hamburger patty.  In most cases, its made from a melding of beef short ribs and fattier pork to balance out together in a juicy meaty delight that young and old can enjoy.  Plus, there is no killer spice to deter anyone who is sensitive to heat.  Instead a drizzle of sweet tasting sauce usually completes the picture.  I’ve seen these patties made small (tinier than the palm of your hand) or larger, and shaped in a square or circular like a disc.

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Papalote – San Francisco, CA


Papalote Mexican Grill
3409 24th Street
San Francisco, CA
(415) 970-8815

The Mission district has what I call a lot of “flavour”.  Colorful characters, simple ethnic shops, groceries  and eateries (many of the Latin persuasion), and a very “real” feeling about it compared to the more tamer parts of this beautiful city by the bay that I adore.  I headed down to this part of town to meet some folks before visiting their home on the edge of this area, and after being pitched a few options for something to get for takeaway chose the taqueria.  My local guide said this place was very well known and he’d had some good meals there so left it in his capable hands to drive us over after I arrived by BART.  The scene below is where I was standing waiting for my ride just across from the 24th street station, ironically in front of a McDonald’s…

So we soon ended up on the street by Papalote.  From the outside, it looked nothing special, sort of diner-like as I peered into the space where you can eat in.  Walk-in-and-take-out traffic seems to be heavy here too, as we were soon joined by a few people grabbing a menu card and giving their order to the cashier.  I was enticed by the many offerings, including the tasty sounding vegetarian ones, but in the end opted for the fish tacos.

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Sushi Bang – Vancouver, BC


Sushi Bang
500 W Broadway
Vancouver, BC
(604) 875-0131

Normally, I would just dump the poor pics shot with my cell phone and not even comment on an unforgettable meal like this and deny it in my mind that it ever even happened, but I just had to share this unique experience with our readers. I’m sure you’ve read online on other food blog sites, of the growing “taking photos in restaurants” issue that occurred with the burgeoning crowds of people interested in documenting their eating experiences on the internet and the proliferation of affordable digital cameras. I have heard opinions on both sides of the debate and concur and disagree with many of them, such as “its distracting to other diners”, “it steals the chef’s art”, etc. Honestly, everyone has an opinion on the subject and in the end, the proprietor certainly has the right to set the rules in their establishment as they please. It might be heavy handed or draconian in some cases, but as long as its under their roof (owned or leased), I figure they have a right to tell me their guidelines when it comes to photographing food, though I am sure there are those who say that if its the customer who is paying, they should own the privilege. I won’t digress further, but you are free to comment on it if you so desire…

But in this case at Sushi Bang, that I dropped into for a simple take away meal after spending the day on the beach volleyball courts at Kits, the “reason” I got from the waitress who ordered me to stop taking photos – that I was doing very casually since I was waiting for my order and frankly had nothing better to do – just perplexed me. While checking some text messages and lying my phone on the table, I angled it upwards to snap a shot of the wall facing me. Figured I could use an interior shot if I ever decided to post about this, which was quite low in terms of possibility given the quality of the offering here. Its no place that readers need to bother with frankly, as its so run-of-the-mill and the kind of the place you can find just about anywhere in Vancouver. When suddenly, I heard a strong voice from the side, coming from a female waitress saying I had to stop taking photos. I’m surprised she even saw me doing it, as I wasn’t even looking at my screen and was actually aiming blind up at the wall. She must have had her eye on me for some reason, which I guess makes sense as I was the only customer this early summer evening.

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