805 Boyd Street
New Westminster, BC
As might be the case with many people raised in North America, one of my first forays as a child with Indian cuisine was through one of my school friends who came from a family with heritage from that part of the world. I remember to this day on his eight birthday, being invited over to his home and being exposed to an array of brightly colored and incredibly spicy food that I’d never seen nor tasted before in my young life. I think the few of us who were invited over all experienced the same shock at it all, that is until his mother remedied that by bringing out something from the kitchen that was milder tasting and had an ingredient that all kids love – chicken.
And so butter chicken will be and probably will remain a lasting dish when it comes to Indian food. And despite its rather stereotypical image as a “safe” choice among the amazing variety you get in dining out in Indian restaurants, I see it chosen all too often. And I’m guilt at times. But more so when its at a lower end establishment, cause I know they can’t seriously mess this up. Case in point, this little place I came across in Queensborough, called Naanbites. Based on the name alone, I thought it might be some kind of place just making some creative/fusion bite sized snacks featuring naan bread. Alas, I was wrong.
Little Monk Pretzels
Metropolis At Metrotown
The other day I made soft pretzels at home as I suddenly had a craving for it on a lazy weekend afternoon. In a wild coincidence, on a shopping outing at this busy mall recently, I came upon this little stall called Little Monk Pretzels near the end where you find the Superstore, that makes pretty much the same thing I had baked up in my kitchen. With a few other fast food/treat options in this alley of Metropolis at Metrotown, I’m sure it catches quite a few customers coming out of their grocery shopping excursions with food on their minds. Now what monks have to do with pretzels, its unknown to me, but seeing a group of customers congregating right in front of the food stand, it got me curious…
A rather simplistic production, as I could see a man in the back who was laying out pre-made dough, all cut up into bite sized pieces and running them through a little oven-like machine that operated with a conveyer belt. After getting a verbal order from the people manning the cash machine, he would run some product through – on this day its these little balls of soft pretzels that were most popular.
Leon’s Wonton & Noodle House
10634 97 Street
Edmonton’s Chinatown district while a long standing one, is not as large as the editions that thrive in other major Western Canada centres such as Calgary or Vancouver in my mind. At least it doesn’t seem that way in terms of the variety and choice when it comes to dining in the zones often flanked by the distinctive gates that signify you are “officially” inside Chinatown. My sense of the heart of the Alberta capital’s version is 97th street, stretching from the south end at Jasper Avenue and up to perhaps 108th~110th avenue to the north. The relatively smaller size thus gives a more cozy and neighborly atmosphere to the place, almost like if you live and work here, you would know everyone on each street corner. When I see some of the elderly ethnic Chinese seniors strolling the streets or sitting inside some of the businesses (no doubt run by their younger relatives), I must say some have probably lived their whole long life in this east Asian cultural bubble in Edmonton.
Leon’s Wonton & Noodle House is one such place that brings to mind this tradition. The proprietors (a couple, she in the front of house, he cooking in the back) have been in this city for over twenty-five years, after emigrating from Vietnam. Some supporting articles that can be viewed inside the restaurant under the glass covered table top’s which mentioned their history and business operations. A loyal following seems to exist as far as their customer base is concerned if you were to read and believe the narratives and quotes. My kind of place. Homey, simple, comfortable, lots of choice if you come here often and so you don’t get sick of the menu, and modestly priced.
X.O. Vietnamese Style Food
Yaohan Centre, 3700 #3 Road
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.
Chihuahua’s Mexican Food & Pizza
881 Carnarvon Street
New Westminster, BC
After my recent satisfying experience at La Taqueria, I wanted to continue my quest of discovering the very best of tacos in the greater Vancouver area. On a complete whim, I was in New Westminster and passed by a place that I remembered as being Mexican (as far as the signage goes) and slowly crept by in my car until I found it once again. Without any information other than my faded memory of the store front, my decision to stop and walk inside was based on the silhouettes of several people eating inside that came into my eye. Had it been empty, I might have been less inclined to stop. Do you ever do that? Base entering a restaurant upon how busy the place is? Love to hear from you in the comments box if so/if not, and why/why not…
The moment I stepped inside, I had a good vibe. All of the folks inside were Latino, and the female served burst out with a “hola!” upon seeing me. I knew I was just going for take away so headed straight to the front counter, that was fronted by a large heating case apparently for pizzas – of which there were none on display as the folks ahead of me took away a box that probably contained the last few pieces. As I took in the small menu sheet that was taped up on the glass which listed all of the available offerings, a fellow came in asking when the next pizza would be ready – six minutes called out the male employee – and headed back out for a smoke only to return some time later. The whole pizza thing made me lose some hope that I’d be getting a true Mexican experience. But I guess there is nothing you can do when you try to be more than one kind of eatery, serving what appears to be the native Canadian crowd who wants cheap, fast food, and those who have the cultural ties to that part of the world and probably come here for a taste of home.
I can imagine the instantaneous reaction this post will receive. So I’ll come out and say it.
The fast food burger that I’m enjoying of late is from Triple O’s.
Having not grown up in British Columbia, I don’t harbour the long lasting childhood memories of others, who have had the food from White Spot and the like that seems to be true of many Vancouverites, from their very early days (and perhaps teenage years?).
Georgio’s Cafe & Pizzeria
5236 Rumble Street
Situated practically across the street from Burnaby South Secondary School means a couple of things for places to eat in the area, of which there are a handful. The lunch hour can be a mad hectic time for non-students to try and get in for a bite to eat. As well, the eateries seem to make the wise decision of having special menu items which are priced and portioned accordingly for this hungry younger market. Thankfully, they aren’t limited to the kids and us adults can indulge in these quick, cheap eats too. One of these places is called Georgio’s Cafe & Pizzeria.
Despite the rather convoluted smattering of text and listing of offerings in their windows that seem rather mundane, a quick glance at the makeshift sign was what drew me in. “Filipino style BBQ”? What’s that I thought. Sitting inside was a pair of teenage girls apparently killing time on a break between classes perhaps. A man was behind the counter and I could hear some others in the back kitchen. As I was scanning the photo-included menu board, I quickly spotted the pork and chicken skewered barbecue items, thus answering my call to action.