Naanbites – New Westminster, BC


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.

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Shang Noodle House – New Westminster, BC


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.

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Taqueria Playa Tropical – New Westminster, BC


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 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?

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Chihuahua’s – New Westminster, BC


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.

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Abdul’s BBQ – Burnaby, BC & Paradise Donair – New Westminster, BC


Abdul’s BBQ
4500 Kingsway
Burnaby, BC
(604) 431-9498

&

Paradise Donair
723 12th St, #3
New Westminster, BC
(604) 522-0789

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.

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Cockney Kings Fish & Chips – New Westminster, BC


Cockney Kings Fish & Chips
1005 Columbia St
New Westminster, BC
(604) 522-6099

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.

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Hayashi Sushi – New Westminster, BC


Hayashi Sushi
1065 Columbia St
New Westminster, BC
(604) 527-1194

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. 🙂

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