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.
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.
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.
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.
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.