Naanbites 805 Boyd Street New Westminster, BC (604) 527-9997
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.
Shang Noodle House 350 Gifford Street New Westminster, BC (604) 527-3388
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.
Taqueria Playa Tropical 334- 6th Street New Westminster, BC (604) 544-5006
“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 theplace 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?
Chihuahua’s Mexican Food & Pizza 881 Carnarvon Street New Westminster, BC (604) 522-4100
After my recent satisfying experience at La Taqueria, I wanted to continue my quest of discovering the very best of tacos in the greater Vancouver area. On a complete whim, I was in New Westminster and passed by a place that I remembered as being Mexican (as far as the signage goes) and slowly crept by in my car until I found it once again. Without any information other than my faded memory of the store front, my decision to stop and walk inside was based on the silhouettes of several people eating inside that came into my eye. Had it been empty, I might have been less inclined to stop. Do you ever do that? Base entering a restaurant upon how busy the place is? Love to hear from you in the comments box if so/if not, and why/why not…
The moment I stepped inside, I had a good vibe. All of the folks inside were Latino, and the female served burst out with a “hola!” upon seeing me. I knew I was just going for take away so headed straight to the front counter, that was fronted by a large heating case apparently for pizzas – of which there were none on display as the folks ahead of me took away a box that probably contained the last few pieces. As I took in the small menu sheet that was taped up on the glass which listed all of the available offerings, a fellow came in asking when the next pizza would be ready – six minutes called out the male employee – and headed back out for a smoke only to return some time later. The whole pizza thing made me lose some hope that I’d be getting a true Mexican experience. But I guess there is nothing you can do when you try to be more than one kind of eatery, serving what appears to be the native Canadian crowd who wants cheap, fast food, and those who have the cultural ties to that part of the world and probably come here for a taste of home.
723 12th St, #3
New Westminster, BC
I’ll come out and say it. I’m struggling to find a truly amazing and tasty shawarma/gyro/döner kebab/donair here in the GVRD that I’m really happy with and a place that makes it that I would frequent regularly if it blew me away. If anyone can help me by directing me to one that is at the top of the class, please, please, please let me know.
As any visitor to Crystal Mall in Burnaby can attest, it is heavily East Asian in context. Walking inside you feel like you are transported across the Pacific, both in terms of the kinds of shops and eateries and the people packed inside. So stepping just outside to Abdul’s was a refreshing change to get away from the sea of black hair. 🙂 My experience on this visit was completed by the pack of about fifteen Persians who suddenly came into the store when I was ordering, complete with traditional dress on the part of the females in the contingent. Pretty amazing and a boost to my expectations of what I could get from this place.
Cockney Kings Fish & Chips
1005 Columbia St
New Westminster, BC
The relative newness of the building that contrasted against the old school script of the signage was what grabbed my attention the first time I laid eyes on Cockney Kings, during a visit to the burger joint across the street. While the distinct scent of deep frying goodies permeated the air, we stuck with our mission of getting some ‘burgs, and I had to save a visit here for a later day. I thought it would be fitting to squeeze this one in now, following last night’s uploading of a fish & chip meal.
For those who are travelers to the north side of Burnaby, there is another outlet of Cockney Kings up there, which I assume is the older, original one. I’ve only driven by myself perhaps twice and seen it after my visit to this New West branch.
1065 Columbia St
New Westminster, BC
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. 🙂
Rikka Japanese Kitchen
28 – 8th Street
New Westminster, BC
Oozing simplicity from its pores, beginning with the subdued decor and partitioned dining space, Rikka Japanese Kitchen is situated not far from the entrance to the New Westminster SkyTrain station. As a result, the characters outside the restaurant are on the doggy side, and its clear some of those scraggly folks are trying to treat the nearby businesses are their own personal washrooms (signage in place telling them its just for customers) and kitchens (e.g. while I was waiting for my meal to be brought to my table, a strung out woman came bursting in and started aggressively shuffling around the sushi bar counter and then loudly demanded “where’s your plastic forks!?”).
With the lunchtime business seemingly one of their major draws, given the dozen or so price friendly ($8~$9) options, I had made my way there for a sit down meal. Parking is a bit iffy, so if you drive, I suggest you try to find one on the road a block or two along 8th where they have yet to install parking meters. A sandwich board outside on the sidewalk is their main promotional tool for these lunch deals, so don’t be surprised if you’re not the only one drawn in.
77 10th Street
New Westminster, BC
East side, West side? What does it all matter when we all live a thug’s life.
Foodosophy reader Tee and I often joke about the reputation that certain places in the GVRD hold and New West is sometimes the target of our remarks about the madness that occupies some young people’s lives in their quest to get rich quick, and how sadly they end up living that lifestyle for only a very short time before they are “eliminated”.
Overcoming any “fears” we have of traveling out to this place via the sometimes sketchy Skytrain, we ended up at this mecca for burgers, otherwise known as Burger Heaven. With a long tradition of serving up this North American classic – I recall our server saying they’ve been at it for 26 years – we knew that it was worth checking out. Open at 11am daily, it was the early afternoon when we stepped inside and several tables were occupied.
Pho Maxima Restaurant
822 Twentieth Street
New Westminster, BC
This non-flashy restaurant, nestled in a very average-looking commercial building fits the common definition of a hole-in-the-wall eatery. Slightly indented from the street itself, it would be quite easy to miss passing by, unless you were deliberately turning into the front side-facing parking lot, which is also home to a couple other places to get a quick meal. I’ve already written about one of them here.
Despite its subdued appearance, Pho Maxima seemingly gets a lot of love from the locals, judging from a couple of occupied tables as I walked in alone, as well as the phone ringing with delivery orders. A pleasant man was working the front of house alone and I could hear a few voices coming from the back kitchen. Receiving a pot of hot tea to start while I perused the menu booklet, I debated going with the namesake pho but instead opted for another edition of meat-on-rice.
Another sojourn into New West. I’ve been expanding my food hunting journeys to the “far east”, as frankly for me its a largely unexplored area and the Vancouver coverage of eateries and restaurants is seemingly getting more saturated and repetitive – especially in light of the start of “the event” next week in town. So I thought, what a better way to really get off the beaten path of reviews on those standard superstar places that are appearing in cyberspace and print media, than a return to a classic mom-and-pop joint.
Interestingly enough, despite its very generic sounding name, Burger Burger gets top billing on the commercial signage that stands at this complex along sixth street. It totally reminded me of my high school years, where my buddies and I would always congregate at our town’s favourite hole-in-the-wall burger spot – which ironically stood across the street from a McDonald’s. Even the yellow signage was identical, as well as the open facing flat top cooking area and fantastically priced burger-fries-drink combos. Over a decade later, I am bewildered to see that a place like Burger Burger has prices that I am most familiar with when I was a cash-starved but always hungry teenager over a decade ago.
Papa Dave’s Pizza
820 20th St
New Westminster, BC
[To begin this particular post, let me first note that I was fumbling around with one of my cameras and my cell phone, and ate some of my meal in the restaurant itself as well I took the leftovers home. Hence, the “variation” in the images below.]
In a tiny commercial building that houses a Vietnamese restaurant (to be written up in a future post), a sandwich shop and a Filipino grocery, a fourth business claims residence as a pizzeria. With a less than unique namesake (I guess “John” was already taken), Papa Dave’s churns out pizzas, lasagnas and other easy fast food meals in this part of town bordering the edge of southeast Burnaby and the western side of New West. Well, make that rather a very enthusiastic and friendly three-generation, East Indian family that is in charge of the actual cooking.
Hoping to just grab a slice or two for a quick meal, I discovered that there were no hot, ready-made pizzas/slices sitting in some warming display case, as is found in many a pizza joint in town. Alas, I asked how long it would take for them to make me a full pie instead, and since there was no wait I smacked down some cash for what turned out to be an eight-piecer. The 12″ pizza was from the “top of the line’ section of their menu, and was a shrimp pizza loaded with mushrooms, onions, green peppers, tomatoes, pineapple and what was dubbed “Papa Dave’s three cheese blend”. Yes, a unique mixture. And when it comes to weird eats, I’m often game.
Mon Mom’s Cafe
821 12th St
New Westminster, BC
On the quick and easy breakfast trail in New Westminster, I chanced upon Mon Mom’s Cafe located along 12st Street. Situated in a wooden building reminiscent of structures popular from an earlier era, it certainly has its charms and nostalgic sidewalk appeal. The slow pace of things on the road outside took a turn as I stepped inside the place which was full of chatter and customers. The sounds and smells of a breakfast diner never fail to disappoint me.
With breakfast plate offerings (eggs, toast, ham/sausage, French toast/pancakes) in the $4 to $4.75 range, and omelets in the $5 to $6 range, great value can be had. Preferring French toast over pancakes, I ordered one of the choices from the top half of the menu and sat back to take in the scene. Families, groups of working class men, single diners taking up the smaller tables near the front window, it was all a regular mix of common folk out for a relaxing morning meal.
723 – 12th Street
New Westminster, BC
First entry from this outpost of New Westminster! This city has its charms, despite its reputation as not being the most safest place to be, especially at night.
I ventured out, in the daytime, as I was in the neighborhood and found this little donair shop on 12th street. I saw some folks coming out of it with take away bags and some eating at the tables out front. Must be good or cheap I thought, so parked my car on the street and stepped inside.
Inside, I was greeted by a cheery man, who had the air of a person who had pride in their work and his product. Love meeting folks like that, in any walk of life. The space was tiny, basically just a counter from which to order at and at which he put together the food.