Makoto – Burnaby, BC


Makoto Japanese Restaurant
5213 Rumble Street
Burnaby, BC
(604) 438-1997

September 2010 re-visit post here

Original post below:

Homey, perhaps a touch dated, honest, and old school is pretty much how I would characterize this unpretentious, Japanese-run little restaurant situated in a tiny commercial building on the corner of Rumble Street and Royal Oak Avenue in south Burnaby.  Despite its laid back nature and location, on my first random decision to eat here a few months back, I was met by a packed room upon reaching the door on a rainy weekday evening and I soon turned around back to my car wondering what the secret was and vowing to come back another day.  And so that’s exactly what I did on a recent weekend outing to this part of town, and fortunately this time I was able to get a seat.

Makoto Japanese Restaurant probably has about eight to ten tables for four, as well as a handful of stools at the sushi bar – making it clearly smaller in scale than say the relatively nearby other decent sushi restaurant (Nao Sushi) in this neck of the woods.  I’m not sure how long its been around, but if the chairs are any indication, it could be its been in operation for a very long time.  It had the atmosphere of a classic youshoku-ya in Japan, straddling that decor line between East and West.  On a weekend afternoon, only one server was visible, as well as a man stationed at the sushi counter and I could spot another person through the pass window to the kitchen.  I have a guess its a family run operation by this slim roster of staff.

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Meshiya Hachibei – Vancouver, BC


Meshiya Hachibei
778 W 16th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
(604) 879-3357

May 2010 re-visit post here

Original post below:

[Apologies for the low quality images, just the first one was taken with a simple point & shoot digital, whereas the others were taken with my cell phone.  The setting inside with many customers in a close space was not conducive to whipping out the big DSLR.]

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Hachibei.  Long on my to-check-out list, but never quite enticing enough to warrant it rising to the top.  In a quest for some good Japanese comfort food, we finally made the short trip out to this place.  As you can see from the outside, it was fairly plain and nothing screamed at me that I would be getting a great meal.

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Won Jo BBQ and Noodle Restaurant – Coquitlam, BC


Won Jo BBQ and Noodle Restaurant
105-508 Clark Road
Coquitlam, BC
(604) 931-1004

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The chill is definitely in the air in the Lower Mainland now after our fantastic summer.  Perfect time to switch my focus onto hot stews, soups and hearty, filling meals.  Thankfully, Korean cuisine has many choices when it comes to dishes like this…

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Rainbow Drive-In – Honolulu, HI


Rainbow Drive-In
3308 Kanaina Ave
Honolulu, HI
Tel: (808) 737-0177

With two of my friends who I managed to rustle out of bed after a busy previous day of driving around the island’s north shore, we took this walking tour up busy Kapahulu Avenue in our quest to find a few local eateries that I had previously researched and been told of by someone I know who has lived on the island.

But it was by pure luck that we also came across the Rainbow Drive-In, as it was not originally on my hit list.  The lineup at the counter as we passed it while traveling northbound made us think we needed to come back for a visit and a brief inquiry about this place to a man in line resulted in him telling us enthusiastically how “amazing the food is here and that we had to try it out”!

After we completed our intended stops up the road, we did just that.

By then, about an hour and a half had passed and the massive lineup had subsided – in hindsight it was probably the lunch hour rush that we’d seen before.  But all of the available tables nearby were still all taken and a few people were in line ahead of us and awaiting their orders at the window on the other side.  A popular place is a popular place regardless of time of day.

Prices across the menu board were very reasonable.  Mixed plates (barbecue, fried chicken, pork cutlets, hamburg steak, sausages, etc.) with sides of rice and salad came in generally at under $7.  Hamburgers, hotdogs and sandwiches were also well represented and nothing was over $4.  A few local tastes such as Mahi Mahi, Loco Moco and what they called a “bento”, were also available.

I found the naming of some dishes that were using Japanese descriptors such as the Shoyu (Soy Sauce) Chicken interesting, until I found out the long time proprietors of the business were Japanese-American.

Given that I’d already had a big bowl of shave ice, and a trio of Malasadas, and an ice coffee within the last ninety minutes, even I had to admit I was quite full already.  But I had to make good on the promise to that man in the line that I would come back and at least try something on the menu.  Pictured above is the Rainbow Special burger ($3.30).  A cute little package, with the beef patties charbroiled, and sandwiched between a nice soft bun.  Quite tasty too for what it was, a low priced basic burger.  Throw in the aura surrounding this popular eatery and the generally good mood I was in on vacation, and it probably elevated my impression of the food.

If I hadn’t eaten as much as I had by that point, I probably would have gone for a mixed plate as well.  There’s always next time, as I am sure I will be back in Hawaii again.

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Long’s Noodle House – Vancouver, BC


Long’s Noodle House
4853 Main Street
Vancouver, BC
(604) 879-7879

Long's Noodle House on Urbanspoon

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This endearing hole-in-the wall has become a regular spot for me. Their take on Shanghai cuisine is generally excellent and humbly innovative. The service is also excellent – Sandy, co-proprietor and server could be one of the best servers I have ever seen: friendly, knowledgeable, fast and efficient.

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I recommend the Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings), the Hot and Sour Fish Maw Soup, their unique Crispy Rice with Salty Egg Yolk (which goes very well with the Hot and Sour Soup as a crouton-like condiment), Fish with Pinenut, and their Drunken Chicken. The flavours are clean and the food is prepared expertly.

Their Xiao Long Bao here is a standout – one of the best in town and very close to the top of the heap. It is expertly prepared – translucent skin, perfect pleating, and plump with broth.

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They have a small and very focused menu (not the nearly 200 items you often would see in a Chinese restaurant in this town)…and everything I have had there over the years has been very good…and inexpensive. This is the kind of place that exemplifies the type of restaurant that Vancouver does best.

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Long's Noodle House on Urbanspoon

Honey Doughnuts and Goodies – North Vancouver, BC


Honey Doughnuts and Goodies
4373 Gallant Avenue
North Vancouver, BC
(604) 929 4988

Honey Doughnuts and Goodies on Urbanspoon

The easternmost district in North Vancouver known as Deep Cove, is home to a quaint little street populated by several eateries and shops.  This two-block stretch of Gallant Avenue is where visitors and locals alike can stop in for a bite to eat while enjoying the natural surroundings.  Honey Doughnuts and Goodies stands out as the most popular destination along this strip, given its decent sized eat-in space and convenient snack offerings that are easy to buy-and-go.  I’m sure part of its appeal is also due in part to the steady line-up that brings in the curious and the sweet smells that flow out onto the sidewalk.

As the name suggests, doughnuts are a hot seller.  In the glass display case inside where you also place your order, an assortment of healthy (e.g organic) and more sugary varieties of doughnuts can be had, as well as scones, muffins and other pastries.  The donuts here are “richer” looking, the kind with a heavier consistency and the glazed ones I saw were really attractive.  I would not go as far as to say they were all-out gourmet, but certainly more than the generic Tim Horton’s.

While in line on this day, a man ahead of me in the cue ordered a whopping $150 worth of donuts!  Its not like he had pre-ordered this, so as the girls behind the counter were busy counting and putting them into brown paper bags, it was clear the supplies would be threatened for those us in still waiting to get our goods. I later saw a tented parking lot that looked like it was an eating area for a film set, which might explain this large order – as homes in the neighborhood are often rented by the television and movie industry.

In addition to the sweets, Honey Donuts and Goodies also has on their menu, some good looking breakfast dishes, along with some soups and sandwiches.  With plans to go hiking on the nearby Badden-Powel Trail, I thought it best to warm up and chose the Soup & Bread Combo, with the soup being Chicken Kale.  It was a hearty soup, with beans, onions, plenty of kale, and chunks of chicken in a rich, slightly salty broth.  Aside from this, I got a Blueberry Muffin to go as a snack for later on (sorry, not pictured).  Towards the end of my hike, I opened it up and had a few bites.  Good flavor, not too brittle and dried out.  I am sure they taste much better hot out of the oven.

I found it interesting that it seemed many members of the kitchen/wait staff were of Latino heritage.  We overheard a discussion, it seemed there was some mention about Argentina between one of them and another person in line, so its possible that’s where they are from.  I don’t think its had a huge impact on their menu, but interesting nonetheless.

Honey Doughnuts and Goodies on Urbanspoon

Toride – Tokyo, JP


Toride
Shinsencho 20-23, Shibuya-ku
Tokyo, Japan 〒150-0045
+81 3 3780 4450

With the chilly weather and ongoing fog that has engulfed the west coast, it has me craving for a good bowl of ramen. Unfortunately, when it comes to ramen, my thoughts go back to Japan. No offense to the ramen operators in Vancouver, but there is just something that cannot be matched by the “real deal”. As I think about it, its not only just the difference in the taste, quality of ingredients, dedicated “masters” who put so much into their creations, but also the atmosphere that I have a yearning for on a cold winter’s night.

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