Shang Noodle House
350 Gifford Street
New Westminster, BC
I suppose its kind of fitting as I’m about to head off on another trip – this time to the gambling capital of America – that I visited Shang Noodle House which is connected to a casino. Having the image of folks who are serious gamblers as not really caring much about taking a long break to eat between their money chasing activities, nor perhaps about the quality of food they consume while gambling, I don’t have high hopes for restaurants that are located right next to gambling establishments.
Seemingly dedicated to serving noodles in a bright, contemporary setting, it was refreshing to enter the doors and see this rather clean, well-lit seating area. Anchored in the middle of the floor was a prep station (and sushi conveyer belt?), although with the high counter I couldn’t really see what was being done over the wooden bar. Fitting with what you find in many a bar near casinos, was a set of flat panel displays showing various sports, hanging on above for a good viewing angle.
JB Malaysian Cuisine
My previous visit to this very same location on the corner of Kingsway and Royal Oak Avenue just east of Metrotown in Burnaby was not an overly memorable or gastronomically exciting one. I think its even had more previous incarnations as a restaurant, which brings me to the conclusion that it has some kind of curse on it, preventing this location from really grabbing hold as an ideal spot for dining out. The geographical setting with limited street side parking might be another mitigating factor causing the negative results. Such turnover in a spot must raise red flags for any prospective leaser, but I guess everyone wants their kick at the can…
At the beginning of this year, JB Malaysian Cuisine set up shop replacing the defunct Miki Japanese Ramen. So much for that loyalty stamp card I received from them, during my one and only meal there. 🙂 Oddly enough though, there didn’t seem to be a lot of change done to the interior… the furniture and even the bookshelf with the dated Japanese comic books still sat near the front door entrance from when Miki existed. A loud playing of some Chinese music over the portable stereobox filled the otherwise lonely feeling air of this place. Not very welcoming, almost felt like I was intruding in a private establishment.
2031 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, CA
Sometimes just the name of a place gives you a sense of what you might expect. At times this is good and at others, well not so. I agree that setting yourself up for a meal like this isn’t the wisest thing to do, as its really just “judging a book by its cover”. With no facts or proof to make a case either way. But I suppose it builds the advice case for owners – pick a name, and research it well, before you plaster it on everything your restaurant will represent. It could have inherent or unexpected nuances or meanings that you weren’t aware of and then its too late…
So being told by my dining mates that we’d be going to a place called Tacolicious after a long day of work, and the main chooser not someone I’ve really gone out to dinner with before this evening, I had my doubts before I even hopped into the taxi that would take me there from my hotel. I wasn’t aware of the research or thought that went into this decision, and I had no time to do any checking of my own before rushing out to join them, so I couldn’t really complain. From the sidewalk, it looked like nothing special. A smallish-looking space in fact. With just this one side with a window to glimpse inside.
1626 W Broadway
Generally in life, I abhor queues and lineups. Chalk it up to immaturity or impatience. But mainly I hate wasting time doing nothing. That and I have a very short attention span.
So when I spot new places in and around town, I’m often torn about when to go and check them out. When I first saw Suika open its doors during its first week, I had noted that I should go early and beat the crowds that would no doubt be keen on exploring the menu of an izakaya setup that was not located in the downtown core. Quite refreshing for that aspect alone and with the pedigree of its Kingyo backing, the word of mouth was sure to spread like wildfire. Looking back at the year that has passed, its clear that’s exactly what has happened. Good on them I say.
So recently I finally made my virgin pilgrimage to their busy West Broadway location, even managing to squeeze into a table just at opening and avoiding the need to have had a reservation. I should clarify. I have been here a few times before attempting the “let’s get a table on a busy night and hope for the best” approach, only to get turned away at the door by one of the friendly staffers. The chillier weather, a light rain, I think contributed to my favorable venture this time, although by thirty minutes after opening, the place was pretty much filled to capacity.
Looking at our category log, I see its been eleven months since we last posted one of these grouped restaurant updates. I’m sure we could do more and do them more often, however the challenge is to provide something new. That said, I feel they do have added value as return visits that support/rectify earlier opinions is something worthwhile striving to provide. I hope you agree. Going through a bunch of notes and folders with accompanying images, I tried to come up with a consistent theme, and this one will be heavy on places I’ve frequented way over in Coquitlam/Burnaby…
1. Anatolia’s Gate
Its out of the way especially if you live in Vancouver, so you’re probably more apt to visit this popular eatery in the evening, which they can accommodate with their late business hours. But I’ve been able to check it out at lunch time and finding its a lot less busy, and the wait times are shorter as a result to get your food. In fact, on one of my most recent trips, I was the only one there and had my quick meal made up for me right on the spot, as if it were my own personal kitchen! Its really refreshing to see the lavash bread (with whole wheat option too!) made immediately at the counter before being fired in the oven, stuffed with your choice of ingredient (beef in this case) and carefully wrapped up to go. Photo above is a cross section as I cut it in half. I was hoping for a bit more meat but the balance with the vegetables enabled it to have a pleasing ratio per mouthful. So much more to explore on their menu, so a place I’ll come back to again.
Little Monk Pretzels
Metropolis At Metrotown
The other day I made soft pretzels at home as I suddenly had a craving for it on a lazy weekend afternoon. In a wild coincidence, on a shopping outing at this busy mall recently, I came upon this little stall called Little Monk Pretzels near the end where you find the Superstore, that makes pretty much the same thing I had baked up in my kitchen. With a few other fast food/treat options in this alley of Metropolis at Metrotown, I’m sure it catches quite a few customers coming out of their grocery shopping excursions with food on their minds. Now what monks have to do with pretzels, its unknown to me, but seeing a group of customers congregating right in front of the food stand, it got me curious…
A rather simplistic production, as I could see a man in the back who was laying out pre-made dough, all cut up into bite sized pieces and running them through a little oven-like machine that operated with a conveyer belt. After getting a verbal order from the people manning the cash machine, he would run some product through – on this day its these little balls of soft pretzels that were most popular.
I am currently diving into, well perhaps I should rephrase that given the laborious pace at which I am reading, a book that focuses on the role that big business is playing in the global world of food production, processing and ultimately on food supplies. Once I complete getting through it, I might put up a post about it and share what I took out of it.
But for now, let me turn to another related topic, that of food sustainability and more about the very basic function of food in our lives. I am positive that those of us who actually devote our personal time to writing these kinds of blogs hold food in high regard, truly enjoy it and are adventurous in our exploration of what is out there to eat.
Save on Meats
43 West Hastings Street
Early adopters, supporters and enthusiasts of many things in our grande old world are an interesting lot. Its safe to say they love being in on the ground level, before things really take off and get established in the mainstream. Often at the cost of being scorned or mocked for their fervent adoration for whatever it may be that strikes their fancy as others cannot yet understand why, and for which they are often stringently dedicated to defending. Places to eat certainly fall among those categories where fanatics make themselves known, but then when their beloved spot gets popular, they are filled with mixed feelings. Part glad that their views are vindicated, but also saddened that their special place will now be flooded with those catching the word-of-mouth and covered in public sources of media.
The previous incarnation of Save on Meats and today’s refurbished edition are an interesting pair to compare. Suffice it to say, the new edition is a lot more “user friendly” to say those folks who are hesitant to venture to this part of downtown east, especially once you get in through the front door. The decor has a definitively retro slant, complete with adornments such as the old school candy dispenser and juke box situated near the main entrance’s waiting area. Even the signage has the decades-old look and feel to them, that might remind the older generation of days gone by, but are clearly with the styling of an era that is beyond my early days on this planet earth.
Taqueria Playa Tropical
334- 6th Street
New Westminster, BC
“The Royal City” of New Westminster has a long history in this province, as it was founded as the capital of the Colony of British Columbia in the mid-19th century and was the first to be recognized as an incorporated city. Its history notwithstanding, the city of approximately 60, 000 people today remains a smaller player when it comes to being a destination for exciting dining options, and certainly no one restaurant comes to mind when I think of this area, as the place to check out if ever here.
With a few major roads that cut through the hilly city, I’ve only really checked out some simple, hole-in-the-wall type establishments, usually for a late breakfast or brunch. But it was brought to my attention by The Friday Lunch that an intriguing new place had been spotted – the Taqueria Playa Tropical. Heck, the name alone brings a smile to my face. And being so close to Burger Burger has to mean it has good karma, right?
Hapa Izakaya (Robson)
1479 Robson St Map
Clearly, with all of the attention this long standing location has received over the years in local publications as well as by online bloggers, it would perhaps seem strange to some that there has not been a post made here on foodosophy, despite our group’s well known love for the izakaya genre.
I cannot attest to the experience of the other contributors here, but personally, I must have passed by the front of this business 20~30 times over the last several years. And among these, I can only recall stepping inside to check out the scene and/or consider dining inside, mainly out of curiosity, a handful of times. Its just never really struck me as a place I need to check off my dining list. For whatever reason.
Further, I can count on one hand the number of occasions when I made my mind up to really taste the food/sample the drinks here, but decided to turn around after some very spotty service – mainly the lack of attention from any of the staff upon stepping inside and vocally/visually making signs that I wanted to be seated. I can clearly recall this happening at least three times now. And on this last visit, it happened again.
But we stuck around trying to get someone to see us waiting, going beyond my usual patience level. Even flagging down one of the wait staff and being told she’d be back, only to be ignored again. After literally grabbing the next girl that came near us and demanding we get a table (there were several open), we were finally seated.