Foodosophy Restaurant Update – November 2011

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.

Anatolia's Gate on Urbanspoon

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Foodosophy Restaurant Update – December 2010

Hi folks!  Another brief recap and summaries of re-visits to previously written about locations here on foodosophy.  This one has a distinct Burnaby feel to it, so hope you enjoy…

Some other past versions here as well.
September 2010
May 2010
December 2009
September 2008

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Foodosophy Restaurant Update – September 2010

Now that we’re rolling into the fall season and coming back from various journeys over the summer, I thought it would be a good time to do another one of these consolidated posts and provide an update on previously visited places again as a refresher.  The links throughout will lead you to original posts and/or commentary on follow up visits.  If in doubt if you’ve viewed them all, please do a search on the main page for all your queries…

Previous editions of multi-restaurant/monthly recaps: 1, 2, 3, 4

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Foodosophy Restaurant Update – May 2010

Previous monthly recaps (1, 2).

While there is still general interest in checking out the new hot spots as well as venturing into random finds, it seems lately there is a draw also to those places we’ve been to before that were either eye opening on first glance or generally consistent in subsequent visits that keep bringing us back.  Here’s a few more updates on previous foodosophy write ups…

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Foodosophy Restaurant Update – December 2009

Taking a cue from Foodosopher, I thought I’d re-examine some places already written about here on foodosophy, but with additional information gleaned through subsequent eating experiences.  To keep it simple, this recap will just focus on Asian cuisine (in particular: Chinese, Japanese, and Korean)…

1. Meok Ja Gol – Burnaby, BC

Followed up my first lunch visit with several dinner outings, including two very satisfying meals grilled with their charcoal bbq.  Fantastic use of the rotating grill, that functions as a quasi-table heater in these colder days.  The cooking device reminded me of the kind I had once in a restaurant in the Kangnam district of Seoul.  Best to call ahead and reserve this as it takes them thirty minutes to have the hot bricks ready.  Great for larger parties.  The accompanying Korean miso soup is excellent as well.  On another visit, had the daegutang (spicy cod soup), a mouth watering dish, loaded with vegetables, making it a very well balanced meal in itself.

2. Cho Sun – Vancouver, BC

Discovered they join a select list of places that offer tangsuyuk (pictured in the bottom row of the above set) which I described in a previous post as usually being “a mixture of red peppers, onions and crispy deep fried pieces of pork, all coated in a sweet, and slightly sour sauce”.  Unfortunately, theirs is not as crispy as I like.  As well, they have the savory noodles better known as jajangmyeon.  Unfortunately, this was a disappointment as well – Dae Bak Bong Ga downtown does it way better.  The kalbi was okay, marination was fine.  I guess I just prefer to grill mine on my own at the table.  For an order of one though, not possible.

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Foodosophy Restaurant Update – September 2008

Foodosopher Restaurant Update: September 2008

In many ways, reviewing restaurants is unfair. As bloggers, and people, we often forget that this is someone’s livelihood, life savings, and blood, sweat, and tears we are impacting and influencing. With a bad experience, we can send a restaurant on a downward spiral to bankruptcy. I am not implying that we are powerful enough to have one bad review sink a restaurant, but like they mention in Malcolm Gladwell’s “Tipping Point”, there are some people who function as a nexus of opinion – people who drive trends that others follow. One bad review can lead other people to be more critical of their own experiences, which can ripple through the entire community.

Real publications, like the NY Times, often have their reviewers visit a restaurant several times. This provides the best sampling of experiences, so one can formulate a more balanced opinion – either positive, or negative. It allows for some small inconsistencies on any given evening to be balanced out by a more just perspective.

At Foodosophy we try hard to be fair, and provide a balanced view. We try as often as possible to dine again at previously reviewed establishments. We’ll post updates on these restaurants every so often, especially if things have changed, so you have a more accurate view of how a restaurant is doing.  Let us know if you think this is a fair approach, or if there is something we could be doing better.

1. Southern Spice – Calgary

Have visited several times since. They have a new menu, and business has been busier. Last time, however, service was terrible. Drinks were forgotten, it took 45 minutes just to get a soda, food took a very long time. Came out inconsistently as well, in a very spotty manner.

It was a Friday, and the restaurant was busy. The lady apologized when we went to pay (over 2 hours later), saying she hadnt expected to be swamped like this. However, she also failed to adjust the bill, or provide any sort of comp. Which is my generally expected form of remedy when an experience goes bad.

Food is still good. I’d just go when they arent as busy, or expect things to take a while when you do go.

2. Pho Kim – Calgary

I’ve probably had the 17A, Special Spicy Beef Flank Noodle Soup fifteen times since the review. It’s very consistent. Only one time was it a bit watery, and lacking the richness of flavour that is the hallmark of the soup. It was late on a Wednesday, about 45 minutes before closing, so im willing to forgive the one incident. It was also abnormally slow to come out that day, so it wouldnt surprise me if they had to fire up the dish from other soups and tried their best to create a fascimile of it.

3. Bow Bulgogi – Calgary

The lunch special has gone UP again! I believe it’s 10.95 now. No longer the best deal in town, it is still of excellent value. Lots of food. Great flavour. The “emperor” has also retired. Things seem to be running smoothly though. No real hiccups. The serving sizes have dropped a bit, but it could’ve been the days we were there. It has always been wildly inconsistent that way.

4. Pho Dau Bo – Calgary

Still clean. Still good. Their closing hours are a bit irritating to me (they close early!), but the Sate soup is still as good as always. Tried a clear soup, and it was decent as well.

5. Gold Wonton – Calgary

Been here several times, including a visit with Shokutsu and friends. The price is still quite reasonable, and it’s the freshest, best hot pot in town. When you go, expect to spend a few hours lounging and catching up. It’s a great social experience. The AYCE is the best way to go. And we really enjoyed the Sate broth.

6. Transcend Coffee – Edmonton

Hands down my favorite coffee shop in the province, Transcend has overtaken Phil and Sebastiens. Not for any differences in quality, but primarily on selection, and price. Edmonton is very lucky to have them. I’ve managed to turn a few friends into coffee snobs through the excellent, patient, service at Transcend. If you like coffee, you’ll like Transcend. Just don’t add sugar and cream – you might as well be drinking THo’s at that point.

7. Little Italy Cafe – Calgary

Following a Calgary trend, their prices have gone up as well. However, still a very manageable 8.95 to 11.95 for pasta specials. They don’t seem to run out as often anymore. And things are a bit more efficient, unless you show up during the dead hours (2-4pm). Piero is married now. That’s about the only differences i’ve noticed.

8. New York Bagel Cafe – Edmonton

Still my favorite eggs benedict… possible anywhere. They are still slow – mayhap even slower over the summer when one of the regular girls was on vacation. Things take their sweet time, and they were hitting about 90 minutes from sitdown to eating on Saturdays and Sundays.  Still worth the wait though.

9. Mucho Burrito – Edmonton

I’m not sure if the first time i went was an abberation (there were about 5 people in line in front of us), but the lineups have been significantly busier since i’ve been. They havent cheaped out on any of their ingredients, and things are still large, and tasty. I know they are a “chain”, but it’s a lot of tasty food for a good price.

10. Red Sea Fish and Chips – Calgary

Went backagain. Not quite as good of an experience. The Haddock was quite poor. The Cod was excellent -definitely the fish of choice. Don’t get dressing – gravy and loads of herbs – on your fish, or on your fries. The fries were a little underdone. And they were empty. They mentioned they are much busier in the fall and winter. Let’s hope they get busier, and be a bit more consistent.

11. L’Epicerie – Calgary

Their prices have dropped a bit and stabilized at something reasonable. They have gotten over new store hiccups and are operating efficiently. They have phenomenal customer service – what service should be in my mind, but in this day and age, is exceptional. They stand behind their product, and they let you sample everything. You have to be patient though – they can be understaffed, so sometimes it’ll take a bit to get to you while they finish serving the customers ahead of you.

They do slow and steady business, but im a bit concerned at the lack of volume. Manuel Latrouwe is finally reopening (i poked my head in there today. It was looking really good), and hopefully that will drive a bit more business. And if you’re the lady who got upset and huffy and stormed out yelling they had lost your business because they did not have a bathroom, please don’t bother going back. It’s, for all intents and purposes, a deli. Get over yourself.