Qoola – Richmond, BC


Qoola Frozen Yogurt & Fruit
Aberdeen Centre
4151 Hazelbridge Way Map
Richmond, BC
(778) 297-5488

Qoola’s profile first came to my attention last year when there seemed to be a lot of buzz around their opening in the Metropolis at Metrotown shopping mall.  With their emphasis on fat/gluten free frozen yogurt, fresh cut fruit, organic grain waffles/crepes, the whole concept reads like a feel good, very West Coast-inspired offering.  Throw in their initiative in using bio-degradable and recyclable products, the whole operation  has “BC tree huger” written all over it.  Now with shops in this popular Richmond mall, as well as in Victoria, BC, the Qoola wave is slowing spreading across the province.

The signature menu item is the fresh frozen yogurt which is available in three flavors (original, chocolate and green tea) and supplanted by other monthly flavors.  For edible snacks, there is also something called the Q-Waffle, which is a whole grain waffle topped with various toppings and a mound of the frozen yogurt.  I watched as a few other customers ordered this and was amused at the confusion the self serve yogurt stations caused, especially with the older clientele that I witnessed.

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Twisted Yogurt – Edmonton, AB


Twisted Yogurt
#650-3803 Calgary Trail
Edmonton, AB
(780) 440-4955

New concepts, especially in the do-it-yourself kind seem to be sprouting out all over the place these days.  Perhaps its a way to cut labor costs, but having customers/diners do all the heavy lifting and giving them countless choices to suit their every need and desire, seems to be partly (in my opinion) due to the ever burgeoning something-unique-for-everyone ethos that has arisen from the Starbucks business model (“super venti mochachino with quarter-whole, quarter-skim, and make the rest half & half, decaf with a few shavings of nutmeg”” anyone?).  No single item will do, you get as much leeway as you want.  Kind of a steroid-driven upgrade on the old “have it your way” style of one of the major fast food burger chains.

I wouldn’t even try to come up with all the permutations of configurations you can get with your Twisted Yogurt dessert.  Rather than try to come up with something both accurate and witty, I’ll let the marketing gurus of the operation themselves tell you how they would give their elevator pitch:

“Twisted Yogurt is all about exploring your creative side, because you get to create your own frozen masterpiece. You start by choosing one of our eight flavours of fresh, natural non fat frozen yogurt and then add on as many of our over 50 toppings as you can load into your bowl.”

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Coffee Mama – Namyangju, KOR


Coffee Mama
Various locations
Location visited: Namyangju City, South Korea

Asian desserts.  For some they are a welcomed treat.  For others, I’ve heard words like strange, confusing and not appealing as descriptors or reactions.  I will take a stab at this topic despite not being a huge sugar-goodies fan and say that one of the main causes for this seesaw result is the source of the sweetness within many Asian desserts.  That being azuki beans.  I think for most westerners, the concept of sweet tasting beans is unusual and hard to comprehend, given that beans are generally used more for savory dishes in North American cuisine.  This juxtaposition is a concept that for some, that I think is hard to overcome.  Its perhaps more a mental hurdle than anything else, that perhaps more experience can help people overcome.

When it comes to after-meal sweets in Korea, one of the things that pops into my mind right away is the summer favorite known as patbingsu.  In English, I’ve seen it being referred to as red bean sherbet.  But really, its a compilation of shaved ice, ice cream, diced fruit (strawberries, banana, etc.), jelly, bits of rice cake as staple elements and toppings.  And for added texture, some places even add in some dry cereal flakes.  I’m sure there are even more creative approaches and touches that some places add, but these seem to be the standard set from my own experience.  Of course, the a fore mentioned sweet azuki beans are always involved.

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Midam Rice Cake House – Burnaby, BC


Midam Rice Cake House
#110 – 4501 North Road
Burnaby, BC
(604) 568-5357

Not a dessert man, am I.  But after a hearty meal of Korean-style barbecue, we took a short walk down the stairs from the second level of this commercial complex to close out our dinner with some sweets at another establishment.

I only had a faint recollection of this place from a previous walk around and approaching 9:30pm, I wasn’t sure I’d get my chance as I reckoned that the closing hour was near.  Luckily, there was still thirty minutes on the clock and the employees inside were welcoming and gave no sense they were in a hurry to wrap up.

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Cake-ya – Port Moody, BC


Cake-ya
2415 Clarke Street
Port Moody, BC
(604) 931-9005
Tues – Sat: 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
Sun: 12:00 pm – 5:0
0 pm

December 2010 re-visit post here

Original post below:

This was a far cry from my usual pattern of seeking out new eats.  First off, this mission required an extended drive way out to the community of Port Moody – a quaint little place with an older downtown core near the water but also has some beautiful natural surroundings up in the nearby mountains.  Second, this was a deliberate foodosophy trip focused solely on sweets, with no regular food component as part of the meal.

So what led me to what is self-dubbed as the “City of the Arts”?  A Japanese-specialty dessert shop known as Cake-ya.

Located in an older building next door to a funky used bookstore and down the same path as a soup/sandwich joint, Cake-ya began as a place that made and sold Japanese pudding, otherwise known as Purin.  To describe it simply, I would say it is a smooth, silky custard (with the usual key ingredients such as butter, milk, sugar, eggs, etc.) with a sweet caramel syrupy sauce at the base.  I’ve traditionally enjoyed it as a simple after meal sweet treat, or on its own while drinking a contrasting bitter green tea.

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Waiola Bakery & Shave Ice – Honolulu, HI


Waiola Bakery & Shave Ice
525 Kapahulu Ave
Honolulu, HI
(808) 735-8884

One of the several pre-trip, researched spots on my food adventures in Hawaii was Waiola.  It was also noted by someone I know who has a residence in Honolulu that it was along the same road as some others I’d asked him about, so as far as location went, it was perfect.

In a pretty run down looking building, complete with some garish plastic banners and graffiti, Waiola is mainly about the shave ice desserts.  Nothing more refreshing on a hot summer Hawaiian day.  A few other customers came in while we were there, along with a delivery guy who brought in huge cubes of solid ice.

Stepping inside does nothing to improve the sense of it having a dated and in need of a refresh design.  But this is part of the appeal of the place, knowing that despite its popularity and well known name, they haven’t plugged the money into expensive furnishings or makeovers.  At the same time, they’re not avert to plastering the joint with pages from various media publications that have reviewed or profiled the place.

With anywhere from thirty to forty toppings and flavors, Waiola can probably meet any craving you have for a tasty shave ice.  With its distinct soft, fine shavings, I tell you they are addictive.  And you get none of that dreaded “brain freeze” from say a more liquidly-ice concoction.  We tried a trio of flavors.  Pictured above, the adzuki (Japanese sweet bean) and mochi (Japanese rice cake balls) combination.  Easily the version among the three we ordered with the most interesting textures with each bite, and the sweetness was not too strong.

In comparison, this pineapple-flavored very basic shave ice was cleaner in taste profile and probably more refreshing as there was less to have to chew.  The fine shavings once again proved to be excellent – and I enjoyed this one more than the one I had at Island Freeze days earlier, thus confirming that Waiola is one of the best shave ice joints on the island.

Lastly, another Japanese-influenced flavoring in the matcha with mochi provided yet another twist.  Almost like a blended coffee-like drink as the flavoring was “heavier” than just the pineapple syrup of the other dish above.

So as you can see, this was just a sample of a few varieties of shave ice to be had at Waiola.  I’m sure there are many more interesting combinations to choose from, and perhaps if you make a visit, you can try them out for yourself.  If there are any readers who have any recommendations, please do leave them in our comment box for this post!

Waiola Bakery & Shave Ice on Urbanspoon

Island Freeze – Honolulu, HI


Island Freeze
International Market Place
2330 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, Hawaii
Tel: (808) 971-2080
Open Daily 10:00am-10:30pm

Smack dab in the middle of the tourist and hotel district of Waikiki, is an outdoor shopping centre called the International Market Place that has its own little food court area.

It is a reprieve price-wise, from all of the other eateries and restaurants that market to out-of-towners milling around on the nearby streets.  This eating area is no different in setup from any standard food court you find in a North American mall – only that the food tenants are all mom-and-pop and represent a wide variety of cultures.  Surprisingly, no commercialized McDonald’s or Starbucks inside.  Just rattling a few off from memory, I recall seeing food offerings that were Chinese, Korean, Greek, Mexican, Filipino, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Hawaiian, and a few others.

As reported earlier, I was already in the area and wanted something cool and refreshing as the summer heat was still bearing down hard and I needed to rehydrate some more after my quick meal at Ono. The photo above was taken after the sun went down, facing the main entrance of the International Market Place.

Now I’d heard of Hawaiian-style Shave Ice before coming to the islands (and got some recommendations from my Honolulu-based friends of some of the best ones to try during my stay – look for future posts), and I headed straight to the Island Freeze.  I wanted to get a quick introduction to the various types and flavours that are part of this ice cold treat.

Here is a bare bones shave ice, undecorated by any other ingredients aside from some liquid flavourings.  Island Freeze allows you to choose up to three flavours to add, and I went with strawberry, lychee and pineapple.  As you can see, it came served in this flower-shaped, light plastic cup container, with a spoon and straw to help you eat it.

Now I realize its just ice, but the texture of it was different from say a 7-11 Slurpee or if you were to slash off fine layers of ice with a sharp blade.  Its neither too flaky so the flavourings aren’t absorbed, or too soft such as in a Slurpee where the liquid dominates.  I think its a combination of the way its shaved and the temperature of the ice that keeps it just so.  The trio of tastes made eating this interesting, as you could just shuffle the cup around to another section and scoop up a new flavour sensation.

All in all, a very refreshing treat!

Island Freeze on Urbanspoon

T Room Bakery – Vancouver, BC


T Room Bakery and Kitchenware
4445 10th Avenue West
Vancouver, BC
(604) 677 2579

T Room Bakery and Kitchenware on Urbanspoon

Short and sweet.  Seems that whenever I review a dessert place, it ends up this way.  I suppose its fitting, given that just a little piece of cake, cookie, pie, etc. ends up being more than I really need to be consuming.  Yes, yours truly is becoming more and more conscious of his weight…

A hybrid between a dessert café, pâtisserie, and a kitchen supply shop, the T Room makes the best use of its quaint space to provide an experience that can cater to all sorts of people interested in many aspects of baking.  With a keen sense of always adapting to the times and season, in addition to the baked goods and sweets, menu items such as soups, salads and sandwiches are available.  For this commentary, I will only be talking about the takeaway bakery component of this business.

On my most recent visit, I picked up a whole cake for a friendly gathering.  Pictured above is a Strawberry Cheesecake.  For those who’ve read some other dessert reviews from Vancouver, such as here and here will know that I enjoy my cheesecakes.  This version at T Room was unlike the others in that it had a much softer consistency.  Not quite as loose as say jelly, but slicing into it you could immediately notice how delicate it was and it was difficult to cut it into nice and neat slices.

This didn’t bother me as frankly when cheesecakes are as solid as a brick, they tend to be very rich and its not long before I tire of eating even half of a decent sized slice.  The nutty rim added an additional textural crunch while the smooth top layer with the unmistakeable scent of strawberry, but not so overpowering that it commanded the full attention of the taste profile, was well done.  Not incredibly sugary sweet, it was very easy to eat a single slice, and then some.  Others who had a piece commented on this as well, so I was not alone.  The only downside is that this is doing nothing to aid in my attempt to control my calorie intake.

I’ll do my best to do a follow up piece on the dine-in café section, and share my thoughts on the soup/sandwich offerings, as some did catch my eye on my last scan of the menu board…

T Room Bakery and Kitchenware on Urbanspoon

Original Cupcakes – Vancouver, BC


Original Cupcakes
2887 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC
(604) 974 1300

Original Cupcakes on Urbanspoon

In my mind, cupcakes and childhood birthday parties are synonymous.  Fast forward a few years and I was introduced to “gourmet” cupcakes at a wedding.  Rather than having a traditional wedding cake, the bride and groom had a tower of cupcakes.  Fast forward a few more years, I was walking down West Broadway one Saturday afternoon and I came across a cute little shop selling what else…  Cupcakes of course!  The décor of Original Cupcakes is something you’d expect to find in a little girls dollhouse.  I was impressed with the look of the pink hued store, complete with cupcake shaped light fixtures.  From the bustle in the open bakery in the back and the sweet smell in the air, I thought it’d be a shame to leave without some cupcake bounty.

I’m not the type that indulges in baked sweets very often, but for some reason cupcakes are an exception.  Wanting to try more than a single sweet something, I decided on a half dozen mini cupcakes.  This being my first time in the store I thought these were perfect!  The cake portion was moist and had just the right amount of sweetness.  The frosting also wasn’t overly sweet and each had their distinct flavor profiles.  If I were to pick my favorite of the bunch, it would have to be the “mint condition”.  To get a feel for their cupcake lineup, they’ve got them all listed on their website.

Funny how things happen and later that week I was at a local grocery store and overheard a conversation about the Cupcake store on W Broadway.  The cashier informed the customer ahead of me that Original Cupcakes also makes great cakes.  Making a mental note, a cake will definitely be on my list for a future gathering and I’ll more than likely end up indulging in a couple of cupcakes, maybe even a big one next time.

As a final note, I’ve just learned that every month they have a “cause cupcake” where a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each cupcake goes to the cause of the month.  You should check out the story behind January’s “bizzy lizzy” on their blog.

Original Cupcakes on Urbanspoon

Café Gelato – Las Vegas, NV


Café Gelato (Ice Cream & Sweets)
@ Bellagio Las Vegas
3600 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, NV
1 888 987 6667

Café Gelato (Bellagio) on Urbanspoon

You’d think that in December in Las Vegas, one would probably avoid cold sweets, especially when we actually had snow in the city – a rare occurrence for Sin City. But after a lot of walking around in heated buildings, something cool was highly sought after. Café Gelato with its large glass display case showing an assortment of tantalizing gelato flavors, appeared like an oasis in the massive Bellagio hotel.

I have to admit, ice cream and gelato are probably my most favorite dessert. As bad as it is for you, I have a hard time controlling my cravings when it comes to this stuff. I even have a bad memory of attempting (and finishing) the legendary “4×4” at Baskin Robbins back in the day – which included four scoops and four toppings in one single serving. So I surprised myself by just asking for a single scoop ($4.75) of the refreshingly cool mango flavor.

For me, the balance of just how soft gelato is makes a big difference to me. Too soft and it reminds me of a slightly runny milkshake, too hard and its just ice cream. Thankfully Café Gelato had it down pat. Still solid enough that it wasn’t like soft serve ice cream, and a strong intense natural flavor that reminded me of the ripe mango fruits that I have eaten in places like southern India and Thailand this past year. Despite its appearance, the single serving cup was more than enough due to the richness and density of the gelato. Either that or I am slowing down in my ice treats consumption as I get older – there is no way I could even face that 4×4 today.

The Raspberry Brownie ($6.00) was pleasantly not overwhelmingly sweet as if often the case. Again, as with gelato, I am a bit fussy when it comes to how “thick” brownies are. Here, it was pretty good in terms of that contrast between the sticky moist goodness of the inside and the crumbly exterior. For those who don’t like their brownie way too sugary, this is a good option.

Being that it is Vegas and in one of the more expensive casino hotels, the price point was a big high. The small latte I had also went for a generous $5.50, making me think I should have gotten my caffeine fix at the better looking café across the hallway at Palio. But for those fortunate to have some winnings at the tables, I suppose it really doesn’t matter what you pay in this town.

Café Gelato (Bellagio) on Urbanspoon

True Confections – Vancouver, BC


True Confections @ Broadway
#6 – 3701 W. Broadway (at Alma intersection)
Vancouver, BC
(604) 222 8489

As everyone knows, the food service industry is a tough business. Restaurants pop up suddenly, have their time in the sun, and many burn out before being able to establish a strong customer base. Fickle trends, demanding diners, general economics and others, all factor into the success or failure of any food establishment. Much like the productive lifetime of a professional athlete, restaurants are lucky to get a few good years before having to re-invent themselves, increase their appeal, and stay on the rails towards positive business growth. By marking their twentieth year of operations since creating their first desserts-only-desserts-restaurant in downtown Vancouver, True Confections continues to build their following and has clearly ridden out the tough early years, and has been one of the lucky, long lasting food enterprises in the city. It is all the more amazing, considering their concept, of limiting their offerings to the dessert menu.

It is this kind of boldness that I admire. Niche markets are always a dilemma. While they offer a chance to specialize and fill a need that is narrow in scope, this limitation also can be the death of any business due to the fact that mass market appeal is needed to secure the volume that is often required to make production worthwhile. From my own point of view, desserts have traditionally been an afterthought for many of my meals. I did not grow up in a household where desserts were an element of our family meals, nor did I tend to order dessert when dining outside. It was really not until I was into my first real job following graduation where business dinners were a staple of my work, that I learned how some people view dessert as a crucial element in wrapping up a dining experience.

It was through these dinner parties, working meals, etc. that I became a fan of cheesecake. True Confections does these well, referring to their dense cheesecake creations as being Montreal-style. Whatever that may be, I am a fan. For me, its this richness that makes or breaks a cheesecake. It is a delicate balance, between being still soft enough to enable a fork to cut through with relative ease, while still being solid enough to stand on its own as a single slice without collapsing under the weight of whatever toppings may be applied. The fruit edition is my personal favorite here.

The Broadway location (the second in the three store chain) is a simply designed space, with a prominent showcase presenting the cakes that can be chosen by the slice, and a smaller one near the entrance that is for whole cakes for take-away. Eating-in tends to be either a relaxing or hurried experience depending on the time of day that you go, with evenings (especially on Fri/Sat) being very busy and a popular location for after dinner dates. Parking is a bit tight given that the building shares space with a few other businesses. With several restaurants in the neighborhood, I believe that many customers decide to drop by for a different atmosphere and continue their dinners, with a helping of one of True Confection’s many sweet temptations including cakes, pies, tartes and trifles. Give it a try, your sweet tooth will thank you.

True Confections (Broadway) on Urbanspoon

Dairy Queen (Stadium Location) – Calgary, AB


Dairy Queen – Stadium Location
2126 Crowchild Trail NW
Calgary, AB T2M 3Y7
(403) 282-4947

Let me break from tradition and recognize the fact that this post is a little weak. But with Shokutsu in town, and us hitting every restaurant and bar we can humanly get to while keeping our jobs, neither of us are in peak writing condition. But I still feel this is a valuable public service announcement.

Once a month, a group of friends and I get together to try a new restaurant. Each month, a different member picks a new place to try. Hole in the wall places, fine dining places, everything in between – no type of restaurant is excluded. Often, when we are finished, we have a craving for something sweet. Strangely enough, typically, it’s Gelato, or more often than not, a Blizzard. There’s something good, tasty, and nostalgic about softserve and candy blended together.

When you start to hit most of the Dairy Queens around Calgary, you quickly come to one realization: not all Blizzards are created equal. Many places skimp on toppings. Some places have a more limited menu. And more often than not, most Blizzards are runny, gloopy, and melting.

If you remember the old Dairy Queen commercials, the true test of the Blizzard is to turn it upside down – proving that it was mixed properly, and is thick enough for their “Gold Standard”.

The best Dairy Queen in town (for a Blizzard) used to be on Kensington Rd, at the location that is ironically enough Amato Gelato. Once that Dairy Queen shutdown, the title was inherited by the Stadium Location of the Dairy Queen. They make a great thick Blizzard with a decent amount of toppings. After many disappointing Blizzards, whenever the mood hits, this is the location we go to. Consider yourself warned – the next time you’re in the mood for a Blizzard, make the trek here from wherever you are. If not, you might just be wearing that Blizzard on your shoes.

Amato Gelato – Calgary, AB


Amato Gelato
2104 Kensington Road NW
Calgary, AB T2N 3R7
(403) 270-9733
Hours: variable, based on season. Open late.

“Something sweet signals to the body the end of the meal”. Whether this is hearsay or scientific research, in Western culture, this seems to apply more often than not. After a meal out, and not ready to call it a night yet, friends and I often find ourselves craving Dairy Queen (don’t ask!). However, DQ generally closes fairly early, so instead, we usually decide to head over to Amato Gelato.

Open late, Amato Gelato is a chain out of Vancouver that serves over 72 flavours of gelato, sorbet, and sorbetto at a time. They offer coffee/espresso (my memory fails me, but I believe they carry Illy), and sandwiches (which sit in a cooler for an undisclosed amount of time), but the reason for going is Gelato. Fresh made sits in a long feature cooler – take home gelato (Mario’s) is available in a side cooler with the most annoying alarm ever.

The fresh made Amato Gelato variety is actually quite good, especially for Calgary. A selection of classic, fruity, creamy, rich flavours, some with odd blends, there is generally something for everyone. Including some less than appealing flavours (durian!?). While they are quite expensive, they do let you sample their flavours until you find one you really like. Something i particularly appreciate when im craving new flavours, or just generally feeling indecisive. And the girls working the counter are eternally patient in providing samples, and offering suggestions. Just make sure you pay for your order before trying samples – they can’t get you your order until you have a receipt. That long lineup staring daggers at your back may not appreciate it either.

While Amato Gelato is pricey for what you get, they do have several things working for them. Good selection. Lots of seating. Open late. Great parking. This may not be the best deal in town, but when you need something lighter than a maldon sea salt chocolate torte, and it’s late, more often than not, Amato Gelato is the way to go.

Amato Gelato on Urbanspoon

Prima Taste Restaurant – Vancouver, BC


True Singapore Cuisine. It is what Prima Taste boasts about serving, and this text appears on their menu, their business card, and heck even the final bill. The restaurant side of the Prima Taste business empire started up apparently in 2000 and has now spread outside of Singapore to outlets in Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, China, the US, and right here in downtown Vancouver. I had been hoping to visit this place for a while after hearing good things, but until this day never quite finding the right time or opportunity. With my most recent visit to Singapore being this past May, it had been a while since I have had a sampling of some Singaporean fare, so I was excited as I stepped inside. After my eyes adjusted from coming in from the bright sun, I was surprised to find a modern looking and clean interior, thinking it would be more of a cafeteria-like setting and perhaps a lot more run down – too many trips to hawker stalls overseas must have formed these pre-conceived ideas in my mind.

With a non-hungry companion in tow, I settled down and scanned the menu knowing that I would not have the benefit of another hungry diner to allow me to try more items. It was clear that well-known dishes such as satay, roti prata, beef rendang, laksa, and nasi goreng appeared on the menu, along with many seafood dishes, and even some platters that centered around one specific meat protein. Rather than risk something that would disappoint, I decided to go with a tried-and-true Singaporean offering in the Hainanese Chicken Rice, and a single small plate appetizer that I could nibble on while I waited, some Breaded Prawn Balls.

For $5.95, these deep fried formations had an interesting appearance, almost like circular shaped miniature Rubik’s Cubes, and were the size of a large gumball. They were a nice golden color and had a crispy exterior but a dense minced shrimp core that really perked up when a bit of the chili-mayo dip was added (I’m finding that this spicy and creamy mixture of flavors as a condiment is making waves across many of the ethnic restaurants in town these days). The portion size was probably just right for a single appetizer serving, though not enough if shared.

The Hainanese Chicken Rice ($9.50) was cleanly poached, and came with a small bowl of fragrant chicken flavored rice, and the important trio of dipping sauces (dark soy, ginger, and chili). For me, it is this first thick sauce with its rich sweet properties that really did it for me on this day, although the others were fine too in creating interesting taste combinations since we all know chicken meat is generally very bland. Back to the chicken itself, I received a completely boneless section, with a thin layer of skin that was not overly gelatinous, with lean meat that was silky smooth, moist and not stringy. Certainly, there are differing opinions on how the chicken should be prepared, finished off, with some preferring a more fatty composition, a thicker layer of skin, and I believe some even make the case on the boned or de-boned debate. Again, there is no clear cut answer to this, and personal taste will come into play, but I did enjoy the offering here at Prima Taste and would definitely go back for this as its probably the closest interpretation in Vancouver that I’ve seen to those I’ve eaten in Southeast Asia.

Service was decent; we were greeted immediately at the door and led to a table by one of the young boys working the bar area. Tea came out soon enough and ordering was fine as we were given enough time to read the menu before being pressed about what we wanted to eat. Its the in-meal service that was somewhat lacking, as it was difficult getting the attention of anyone for refills, extra napkins, having plates cleared as well as receiving the final bill. It seemed that rather than one dedicated server per table, they platoon staff across the floor so each request that I made was in fact, carried out by another server. If that is deliberate, or a way to compensate for the seemingly overwhelmed service team, I am not sure. It just lacked some of the personal attention I thought, given the greater-than-cafeteria setting, I assumed they would want to follow through with a higher degree of performance.

True Singapore Cuisine? Perhaps, but diluted a bit in terms of the wide range that you can get on the peninsula, but that can’t be helped as the menu does have to take into account many factors. Such as the availability (or lack of) many necessary ingredients, the need to condense things to a manageable level, while simultaneously trying to represent the country’s cooking in a single establishment. As such, I would have to rate Prima Taste as succeeding, though additional visits are required to confirm this by tasting other dishes, that I could only visually interpret by scanning nearby tables.

As a treat on the way home, we popped up to the food court of the H-Mart (Korean Grocery Store) located on the same side of the street as Prima Taste, and shared a patbingsu dessert. A refreshing combination of shaved ice and sweet azuki, topped with matcha ice cream, diced watermelon, mangoes, and kiwis; perfect for this hot summer day.

Prima Taste Restaurant
570 Robson Street (corner of Robson and Seymour)
Vancouver, BC
Tel: 604-685-7881
Hours: Mon-Thu, 11:30am to 2:30pm & 5pm to 10pm; Fri, 11:30am to 10pm; Sat, 12pm to 10pm; Sun, 12pm to 9pm

Prima Taste on Urbanspoon

Beard Papa (Yerba Buena location) – San Francisco, CA


Beard Papa
99 Yerba Buena Lane
San Francisco, CA
(415) 978-9972

Growing up with a stay-at-home mom, our family had the benefit of eating very well. While my mother was very well versed in our native cuisine, she was also very adventurous and creative in trying new cuisines, as well as baking up new pastries. One of our favorites that she made were Cream Puffs. I had never had her version anywhere else – until I came across Beard Papa.

Beard Papa is a Japanese chain that focuses on one primary product – cream puffs. Contrary to many North American versions, the term cream does not actually refer to whipped cream, but a cream custard filling inside what is essentially a Pate a Choux. These “little pillows of heaven” come in a few different flavours: vanilla, chocolate, and a seasonal/weekly flavour that can include Caramel, Green Tea, Pumpkin, Coffee, or Strawberry. Located in 300 different locations around the world, chances are good that there is one near you!

Focusing primarily on the cream puff, you would think Beard Papa would do it well. A crisp on the outside, airily soft on the inside puff, filled with a delectable rich, creamy, flavour rich filling. Something so rich and delicious, you’d want to eat a dozen in one sitting. Well, you’d be right.

The vanilla bean at Beard Papa is easily my favorite. Forget the puffs – i’ll be honest, a Pate a Choux is an embarassingly easy thing to make. It’s all about the custard, and their custard is rich, creamy, and absolutely loaded with flavour. Eat them quickly, as the texture changes quite dramatically as it warms up. And eat a few – one is never quite enough! I find the chocolate to be a bit flat, and too creamy. I prefer a rich chocolate filling (think like a ganache). The seasonal ones are ok for a diversion, but for me, it’s vanilla all the way.

Let’s be honest – there’s nothing quite like mom’s cooking. It has a lot of memory and emotions tied up in it. So I can say there is nothing quite like my mom’s cream puffs. But if you can’t try those, go have a Beard Papa. They are really good. They MIGHT even be better than my mother’s, but I never suggested that!