X.O. Vietnamese Style Food – Richmond, BC


X.O. Vietnamese Style Food
Yaohan Centre, 3700 #3 Road
Richmond, BC
(604) 231-9878

The food court in the Yaohan Centre is probably the first time I’ve ever experienced an Asian mall food court in the GVRD, thinking back on it now it probably goes back a good decade or so.  While my memories are somewhat faint, I recall the supermarket there (before the arrival of the T&T’s of the world), as the only place that had those distinctly Asian food products and ingredients all under one roof.  Strangely, I can also remember once upon a time, there being a ramen place in this exact food court and having it there are a youth.

Its pleasing to know this place is still around and seemingly prospering. I usually stick to one side of this area where the fast food chinese stalls are, and the noodle place on the corner.  And thus this time, I thought I’d venture to the opposite end and see if there was anything of interest.  After doing a walk-by of all the spots, passing on some barbecued duck, noodles, etc. the hot pans of simmering curry dishes at X.O. Vietnamese Style Food caught my eye.  Kind of an unusual combination I thought.  Though they did have the typical Vietnamese soup noodle item that I have way too much of these days.

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Burger Heaven – New Westminster, BC


Burger Heaven
77 10th Street
New Westminster, BC
(604) 522-8339

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.

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Nando’s Chicken – Burnaby, BC


Nando’s Chicken (Burnaby South location)
5761 Marine Way
Burnaby, BC
(604) 451-0020

It was out in my familiar Kerrisdale neighborhood where I first saw the sign for Nando’s Chicken.  At the time, I was completely unaware that it was a chain of part dine-in, part take-out food enterprises.  From the outside, that particular outlet on W 41st Ave. looked to me like  a regular restaurant and so it wasn’t until I saw it later in a few other places that I began to wonder about its setup.  As an aside, a visiting friend from the UK told me upon seeing the store front that they have these in the UK and he was surprised to see them here as well.

The south Burnaby franchise where I had my first ever Nando’s meal is in a shopping area along Marine Way, which bears a striking similarity to the commercial area known as South Edmonton Common in the provincial capital of Alberta.  Kind of lost amid the big box stores and rows of business, it has set up shop in a smaller part of the strip malls in the area, with a Starbucks (surprise, surprise) nearby as well.  Getting a quick meal while driving in the region, I got caught up in the obvious lunch hour rush of customers, and was surprised to see a decent crowd eating inside as well as those waiting for take away orders.

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Fritou Halal Fried Chicken – Calgary, AB


Fritou Halal Fried Chicken
216 Saddletowne Circle NE
Calgary, AB
(403) 450-5880
11am-11pm

Fried chicken is one of those things everyone can do, but most people fail to do well. In reading Thomas Keller’s new cookbook Ad-hoc at home, he describes his recipe for fried chicken as “if there’s better, I’ve never had it”. While Keller may be onto something, that doesn’t mean I have to take his word for it. So i’ll keep looking…

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Fritou Halal Fried Chicken is part of the Fritou Chicken chain. Each independent owner buys equipment and supplies from Fritou, and then operates the chain in their own preferred method. In this case, as indicated by the name, they offer Halal chicken.

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My Chau – Vancouver, BC


My Chau
1715 Kingsway
Vancouver, BC
(604) 874-6880

My Chau on Urbanspoon

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When I walk into an ethnic restaurant for the first time, I make an attempt to determine if they have a specialty – a particular house dish for which they are “famous” within their community. I look for clues in the menu or on chalkboards and also I look around at the other tables to see what the other patrons are having.

The first time I entered My Chau a couple of years ago, determining their specialty was easy  – it was their chicken pho (pho ga) with a side of deep fried chicken leg. The place was packed for lunch and almost every single table had a plate full of this beautifully deep fried chicken leg that comes with bowl of a chicken pho. I knew then I had to have it.

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This place is truly a hole-in-the-wall in the best meaning of the term. The restaurant is a mere sliver – perhaps ten feet across and seats no more than perhaps 20-30 people. For such a tiny place, they have an extensive eight page menu.

East Vancouver has a number of places that serve a good beef pho (pho bo). My Chau differentiates itself from the crowd by specializing in pho ga and thus have developed a quite a following. It fills up quickly around lunch time – often with well-dressed and affluent Vietnamese side by side with working class folk looking to have a good pho ga.

Their chicken broth is light, but flavourful – and very nearly transparent in its clarity. It is also quite light in salt. I do not detect that “round” MSG flavour that so many bowls of pho in this town exhibit. The accompanying chicken leg is fried perfectly – with a crisp, golden skin and tender meat. I suspect that the legs had been used to make the broth prior to being deep fried. It may explain the excellent crispiness of the skin. It is delicious and perfectly seasoned.

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The noodles are perfectly cooked – loosely separate, al dente, fresh tasting and nicely “ricey”.

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The other food I have had here has been very good (The hu tieu – dry noodles – in particular). However, it is their pho ga that beckons.

My Chau on Urbanspoon

Lloyd’s Patty Plus – Calgary, AB


Lloyd’s Patty Plus
202-255 28 Street SE
Calgary, AB
(403) 207-4455

What’s in a name? When you discuss a food-related strip mall in the East off 28th Street and Memorial called Short Pants Plaza, I will hazard a guess and say nothing. No matter how hard i’ve tried to research the origin of the name, it’s nonsensical designation continues to mock me. “You don’t get me”!

When it comes to Lloyd’s Patty Plus, located in Short Pants Plaza, the name means something. This establishment, run by the friendly Mr Lloyd and his lovely wife, Mrs Lloyd, make Jamaican Patties.  Plus, they occasionally make coco bread and other Jamaican specialties. Lloyd’s Patty Plus.  Appealing to the logical mind.

I remember when i was first introduced to him. He seemed larger than life in his sterile white lab coat, hair net, and big friendly smile. When you stop by, because inevitably, you will, take a bit of time to chat with him. He has some interesting facts and tidbits that are always interesting. He has a lot of thoughts on his home country of Jamaica as well. Stories i always love to hear about.

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Jamaican Patties are the Caribbean equivalent of meat in pastry.  Made with a distinct yellow color created by the addition of turmeric, these flaky pies are stuffed with a variety of fillings. In Jamaica itself, they typically carry a wide range. At Lloyds, it’s chicken, and beef, in regular and spicy versions.

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Faux KFC – Inuvik, NWT


Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) @ The Northern
MacKenzie Road
Inuvik, NWT
(857) 777-2582

I love traditions. To me, they are like the signposts of life. They remind you of things from your past, and give you something to look forward to. Out of all the “traditions” that my friends and family have established, one of my favorites is the KFC meal.

I grew up eating KFC as a treat. There was no extra crispy, or other wacky options. It was original or original. I remember the days my father would come home from work with a bucket of KFC. If i could get to the first drumstick, those were good days indeed. KFC was a part of my childhood, and even as i grew older, still held a lot of nostalgia for me. Besides, KFC tasted really good as a kid.

Fast forward to University. It’s my best friend’s birthday, and slightly short on money, and definitely short on ideas, we decide it’s a good idea to split a 20 piece bucket of chicken. The folly of youth. We each eat 10 pieces, partly because it tasted good, and partly because of bravado, and we proceeded to throw up. The human body just wasnt designed to handle that much grease – without copious amounts of beer anyway.

We couldn’t eat KFC again. Until the following year, when, on his birthday, we decided “why not”, and ordered a 20 piece bucket again. I believe i was the only one purging that year. My best friend had somehow developed a better resistance to the grease.

We do it every year now, for his birthday. It’s the only time each year that we eat KFC. I look forward to these times, as it’s part nostalgic, part good story, and really, i do look forward to eating my KFC once a year. Until i got ripped off this year.

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My best friend’s birthday found us in Inuvik. Thankfully, there is a KFC in town, so we were able to continue our tradition. Inside a department store, i waited at the KFC/Taco Bell combo. 15 piece bucket (we’re a bit older now), gravy to go. They throw chicken into the oven and start baking it. This isnt right. What’s going on here? Maybe they’re trying to defrost it, then toss it in the fryer. Who knows.

30 minutes later, our bucket is given to us, with our large side of gravy. The gravy is definitely KFC gravy – thick, clumpy, congealed and fatty, it’s heaven in a bowl! The chicken, however, does not come in the requisite Colonel Sanders bucket. It’s some strange “chicken” bucket.

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I get the receipt. Apparently i ordered a KFC Large Gravy, and miscellaneous, proprietary, 15 piece baked chicken! This wasnt KFC – this was Faux KFC! They were selling their own chicken, not calling it KFC to avoid getting sued, and adding it to the bill, fooling unsuspecting people. This story was later confirmed – it was not real KFC – it was my very first fake KFC.

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Not really wanting to relive another fried chicken experience, we decided this one would count. We ate the bucket. Surprisingly enough, the chicken was decent. Ok really. Didnt taste like KFC, but it wasnt terrible either. Especially in Inuvik, where the choices are extremely limited. A solid 5 out of 10.

While the pieces we order each year are decreasing, and the likelihood of vomitting these days is generally very slim, i’ve found the onset of age brings practicality and wisdom. I look forward and enjoy this tradition each year, fake KFC or not. It is a unique and interesting tradition that only my best friend and I share.

How about you – do you have any food traditions you can share with the rest of us? We’d love to hear about them!