Tealips Bubble Tea & Coffee
7139 Arcola Way
Offering a wide ranging menu of bubble teas, coffee, loose leaf tea, smoothies, shaved ice, waffles, and sandwiches, this hidden, out-of-the-way cafe in the Middlegate neighborhood of Burnaby has steadily built a strong following. Or so it seems on my visits there as its always got a steady number of customers inside. I suppose it benefits greatly from the steady stream of traffic to the nearby businesses, as well as the multiple condo towers that look down upon the building in which it is housed…
Tealips does have a slightly different premise compared to other bubble tea houses around town. For instance, the thing that struck me upon entering the doors was the more relaxed vibe and seating arrangement that sprawled out before my eyes. A lot more inviting as a result and the kind of place that makes you want to stick around. The crowd seemed to be dominated by younger couples or soloists who were clearly students cramming behind a heavy textbook or busy scanning the screen of their personal computer.
832 Cardero Street
It has been a few years now since I last visited this popular Korean lounge off one of the side streets of Robson. Hidden away from the main strip, its not always been on my radar so I was pleased to find Chungdam Ahn was still around after all this time. With a few boisterous friends in tow in search of some unique food and drink combinations, we headed to this part of Cardero Street and tucked inside to a pretty full room. With some lively music and a vibe that only excited, young twenty-somethings can bring to a place, it had all the markings of a good night to be had…
Fortunately, we were able to squeeze into the bigger corner table of the place, almost as if it was waiting for us all this time. Scanning around with my eyes, it was clear we weren’t the only group out for a hard night of eating and drinking, although there were some tables occupied just by couples on an evening out. A pair of female servers were buzzing from table to table, collecting orders and bringing out food from the kitchen area.
Cafe de l’Orangerie
8636 Granville Street
Sometimes location plays a crucial role in even picking a restaurant to go to. To expand upon this point, the establishment’s parking options, is a critical factor for me at times when deciding on one place versus another. Cafe de L’Orangerie falls into the difficult category as it is not in an ideal spot (accessible by only one direction of busy Granville Street) and the limited number of stalls in front that are shared by other businesses does not help matters. Despite all this, the good buzz that I’d heard about the French trained, Japanese owner/chef and the approachable menu they have here, led me to deal with the inconveniences of getting here and here’s my report of that visit…
Upon entering the doors, the scene that falls into your line of sight is one of a very simple soup-and-sandwich kind of place, along with a display case of desserts and pastries. I could see how it was straddling several lines, and perhaps serving a different clientele in the day as opposed to the dinner hours. It felt more “western” than anything else, but when you are seated and presented with the evening menu, you are quickly aware that there are some Japanese-influenced twists. And it was these that I was keen on trying.
The Publican Restaurant
845 W Fulton Market
American’s “Second City” (or more precisely O’Hare Airport) has always been just a transit hub for me over the years and a place I’ve never gotten a solid chance to freely explore. Even on my most recent stop, my venture out to the downtown core was limited to but a single evening. And amid a heavy wind storm and pouring rain my mood was pretty low, that was until I got to The Publican. Reservations recommended, otherwise you might have to wait a while at one of the standing tall tables with a drink before one becomes available.
Stepping inside from the torrential downpour was like entering a warm, inviting oasis complete with a happy, buzzing crowd that felt almost like its own little private party. The carefully designed layout of this beer-centric restaurant felt part Canadian farmhouse (with the rustic livestock holding pen-lookalikes near one wall that served as private booths, and part German beer hall with its really rigid lines, long communal tables, high ceilings, open concept and use of wood materials throughout.
805 Boyd Street
New Westminster, BC
As might be the case with many people raised in North America, one of my first forays as a child with Indian cuisine was through one of my school friends who came from a family with heritage from that part of the world. I remember to this day on his eight birthday, being invited over to his home and being exposed to an array of brightly colored and incredibly spicy food that I’d never seen nor tasted before in my young life. I think the few of us who were invited over all experienced the same shock at it all, that is until his mother remedied that by bringing out something from the kitchen that was milder tasting and had an ingredient that all kids love – chicken.
And so butter chicken will be and probably will remain a lasting dish when it comes to Indian food. And despite its rather stereotypical image as a “safe” choice among the amazing variety you get in dining out in Indian restaurants, I see it chosen all too often. And I’m guilt at times. But more so when its at a lower end establishment, cause I know they can’t seriously mess this up. Case in point, this little place I came across in Queensborough, called Naanbites. Based on the name alone, I thought it might be some kind of place just making some creative/fusion bite sized snacks featuring naan bread. Alas, I was wrong.
Qoola Frozen Yogurt & Fruit
4151 Hazelbridge Way Map
Qoola’s profile first came to my attention last year when there seemed to be a lot of buzz around their opening in the Metropolis at Metrotown shopping mall. With their emphasis on fat/gluten free frozen yogurt, fresh cut fruit, organic grain waffles/crepes, the whole concept reads like a feel good, very West Coast-inspired offering. Throw in their initiative in using bio-degradable and recyclable products, the whole operation has “BC tree huger” written all over it. Now with shops in this popular Richmond mall, as well as in Victoria, BC, the Qoola wave is slowing spreading across the province.
The signature menu item is the fresh frozen yogurt which is available in three flavors (original, chocolate and green tea) and supplanted by other monthly flavors. For edible snacks, there is also something called the Q-Waffle, which is a whole grain waffle topped with various toppings and a mound of the frozen yogurt. I watched as a few other customers ordered this and was amused at the confusion the self serve yogurt stations caused, especially with the older clientele that I witnessed.
Ajisai Sushi Bar
2081 W 42nd Ave
Consistency of quality is an aspect of restaurants that I hold in high regard. When it comes to serving raw food, this perhaps becomes even more relevant and all the more important. Case in point, my somewhat regular routine of having sushi perhaps a few times a month. I suppose I have a couple of standbys that I patronize most often now in the greater Vancouver area.
However among them, Ajisai in the Kerrisdale neighborhood remains tops when it comes to plating things in a very predictable manner – by that I mean the quality of the ingredients, the quality of the knife work, and maybe most importantly, the quality of the rice – all come through as exactly the same as the previous times I’ve eaten here.