CoCoLo – Vancouver, BC

CoCoLo Japanese Casual Dining & Sake Bar
#202 – 1926 West 4th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
(604) 732 4676

So with all of that in mind, I cannot even rationalize why it was me, who boldly suggested to an acquaintance that we venture out to what I’d heard was yet another place riding the izakaya wave.

Figuring to keep up with the local way of experiencing an izakaya, I went with the mindset that I would eat more than drink.  But in the end, we did put down a few bottles of Asahi, so all was not lost.

Located across the street but on almost the same block as the excellent Zakkushi, and next door to the highly lauded and recently opened Maenam, is CoCoLo – which bills itself as Japanese casual dining plus sake bar. Open since the early part of June, CoCoLo took over the long standing Kitsilano institution for high end sushi, Shijo.  After apparently shifting to new management in 2008, the apparent decline in food quality and business lead to an unfortunate end to their operations.

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Toriyoshi – Tokyo, JP

Sekaidou Building B1 Fl.
2-10-10 Dougenzaka, Shibuya-ku
Tokyo, Japan
+81 3 5784 3373

If you were to literally translate TORIYOSHI, it would end up being something like “good bird”.  I suppose with poultry heavily entrenched in their menu, this is quite fitting and completely appropriate.  As after you’ve had a taste of their famous TEBASAKI KARAGE (deep fried chicken wings), you’ll be saying good things about the bird served at this place too!

Despite it being a “chain” restaurant, I still find the quality and dining experience here to be a delight each and every time.  Owned and operated by the Samukawa Food Planning group since 1984, TORIYOSHI has expanded in the 25 years that have passed and now encompasses forty branches spread across mainly the city of Tokyo, but also in other major centers such as Osaka and Yokohama.

My multiple visits have always centered around one of the outlets in the Shibuya district of Tokyo, the second branch in this part of town.  Its located along the uphill sloping DOUGENZAKA street, and can be found hidden from the sidewalk as it is on a basement level floor of a building.

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Wo Fung Dessert – Richmond, BC

[As with all of our posts, please click on any image for an enlarged view]

Wo Fung Dessert
Unit 3220, Aberdeen Centre
4151 Hazelbridge Way
Richmond, BC
Tel: 604-233-1132
Hours (Mall): Mon to Wed & Sun, 11:00am-7:00pm; Thu to Sat, 11:00am-9:00pm
Cash Only

September 2010 re-visit post here

Original post below:

A wonderful reward that comes from participating in the food blogging world is that it enables you to follow others’ posts about places to eat and check them out immediately if the opportunity arises and they are within the same geographic area.  Being in Richmond in the afternoon, I recalled a very recent positive post on Eat, Snap, Repeat, and thought I’d follow through with a visit to Wo Fung Dessert, located in the food court area of Aberdeen Centre.  Its a mall I’ve been to a handful of times, but never had I actually eaten there, other than to grab a quick takeout of Beard Papa’s.

It was easy to find the place, as described on the other blog it was easily the busiest place in sight. It was kind of chaotic there as I wasn’t quick sure where the dividing line was between those still ordering and those awaiting their pickup, but I soon found my way and scanned the menu board posted on the wall behind the counter.  Despite an array of choices (and later on I realized there were more on a menu on the counter itself – though I think they were written only in Chinese so no help for me), I knew what I was after – the deep fried chicken wings and similarly crispy squid tentacles – which I washed down with a Hong Kong-style milk tea.  I handed the man behind the counter a ten-dollar bill and got change.

It was about a ten minute wait, during which time I kept watching the counter as I wasn’t quite sure how their system worked.  I soon realized that they would announce a number (in Chinese, so again no help to me) and someone would scribble down on a tiny piece of paper the same number as showing on the small casino chip that you are given after you place your order, and then put it down on the tray with the food.  This sounds easier than it was, as so many people were ordering the popular chicken wings, and that item kept appearing and appearing on the trays passing through the reception line.  I also noticed a bunch of dishes coming up in white styrofoam bowls, not sure what those were, maybe noodle based things, but I could never get a clean look.

After finding my way to an empty table, I quickly dug into the chicken wings.  A nice light batter, but very crispy indeed.  I expected more of a salty taste, but was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t so.  I could get that hint of ginger that added a refreshing tone to the crust, and there was another spice I cannot name but its one I find on some Chinese dishes.  Definitely different from more North American-style deep fried chicken (eg. slathered in sauce be it hot spicy, honey garlic, etc) but definitely more to my taste.  A trio of the wings was plenty, as after a while it got a bit greasy.

Next up on my Wo Fung Dessert checklist was the deep fried squid tentacles.  This turned out to be my favorite of the two.  The thickness of the base of each tentacle was much more than I expected, probably the size of your pinky finger and the meat was tender and just right on the chewiness factor.  Each tentacle was fairly long as well, so each needed a few bites to get down.  Multiply that by at least ten, and the whole dish added up to a lot of squid for just $3.75.  Again, a nice light batter, and not fried in too hot of oil thus burnt sections were not there.  It would have gone well with a nice cold pint of beer, but alas I was limited to my sweet milk tea.

All in all, I think two deep fried dishes are not what one would consider a well balanced meal, as at the end of it, you really get a sense of the oil.  I wish I had gotten something else at the same food court, some rice or soup based item to help even things out and give me a different taste and texture to deal with.  My fault though, as I was so solely focused on these deep fried things, and was not exactly in an environment that a beer would have worked out.  I’d second the idea of giving Wo Fung Dessert a try, as its a nice gem in the sometimes complicated world of choices in an Asian food court.

My thanks go out to Eat, Snap, Repeat for sharing this spot with me, one that I am sure would have never tried without their report.