Dae Bak Bon Ga – Vancouver, BC


Dae Bak Bon Ga
1947 West 4th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
(604) 568-8259

One of the earliest posts that I personally wrote about here on foodosophy was for a restaurant of the same name, Dae Bak Bon Ga.  Its actually the mother ship if you will of this secondary location in Kitsilano, that’s been open for a while now and I’ve tried a few times already.  Among a certain circle of native Korean friends, this is their chosen favorite for a taste of home here in Vancouver.  As such, I trust their word and try to remember all the Korean dishes that I ate this past summer when I visited South Korea and from my previous trips to that peninsula.  Upon my first visit to this 4th Avenue spot, I did pick up that the service level was an improvement over many other Korean restaurants around town and there was a notable level of “refinement” and focused attention on customers aura that seemed to consume the place.  It was though in their very early days, so perhaps that might have had something to do with it.

As this meal was a farewell of sorts for a member of this particular circle of friends, we opted to have a round of drinks to begin with.  This was soon followed by our opening dish of bossam.  It was a nice thicker slice cut, generously spread across the plate.  A decent balance of meat and fat in each piece as well, and it had been steamed quite thoroughly and thus who like it more “well done” and less soft and fatty, this would be up your bossam alley.  For those unfamiliar, its practice to wrap up a slice or two in the tender lettuce or cabbage that accompanies this, and add a smearing of the spicy paste mixture (often with some dried seafood ingredients) you see in the top left of this image to complete the flavor package.  Nature’s always the best eating vessel supplier.  The wrapping helps cut through the oiliness you may experience as well, and as its been steamed and cooled as well, you miss a bit of the crispiness but has the greater flexibility and malleable properties to better suit it as a foldable envelope.

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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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Café Mumbai – Vancouver, BC


Café Mumbai
2893 West Broadway (@ Bayswater Street)
Vancouver, BC
(604) 737 2500

In my past travels through India, I have never been able to make it to the west coast mega-city of Mubami (ex-Bombay) much to my dismay. Though I am aware that it is the centre of the country’s business and entertainment institutions, and the metropolis attracts people from all over India to work and live.

Café Mumbai seemingly picked up on this, and claimed to cover the diverse range of cooking and styles of cuisine of the nation.  In an almost-direct rebuttal to the Indian-influenced creations at the city’s best known “Indian” restaurant Vij’s, Café Mumbai states they focus on tradition and there is “no confusion by fusion”.

To me, the dine-in menu seemed to be represented more by staples from the north such as samosas and tandoori, with a few smatterings of those from the south such as pakoras.  With owners originally from the western state of Gujarat, the menu also featured a good number of vegetarian choices.  Though not photographed, the Daal Makhni (black lentils cooked with onions and tomatoes) was unfortunately bland in flavour and disappointing.

Lacking a full out buffet as it common at many Indian restaurants in town, for lunch there are some set specials, including the pictured above non-veg mini meal that included two pieces of tandoori chicken, a choice of lamb curry or butter chicken, the day’s vegetable, rice and naan.  It was just fine, not outstanding nor horribly bad, and portion-wise good for a solo diner.  The butter chicken was a touch on the tart side, so for those who like it sweeter, keep this in mind.

Though in a high pedestrian traffic stretch of West Broadway, it seems Café Mumbai suffers from poor curb appeal.  This visit was on a Saturday lunch, and no other customers were there besides our table, though I could see through the front windows many people passing by and some stopping at the dark , heavy door but not entering.  From the outside looking in, the contrast from the brightness outside to the darkness indoors was striking, and perhaps adding to the lack of enticement to come in.

If it were me, I’d open up those windows and the door to allow more flow and air inside.  As well, if I were the lone manager/server who was there that day, I’d get rid of the spread out newspaper and not sit there at the front table while your diners are eating, as it didn’t seem that professional to me – after all this is a place of business and not your living room.

Cafe Mumbai on Urbanspoon

The Naam Restaurant – Vancouver, BC


The Naam Restaurant
2724 4th Avenue West
Vancouver, BC
(604) 738 7151

Naam on Urbanspoon

As I settled down to write this review, it struck me that it could lead to examining one of the most polarizing Vancouver-area restaurants in Foodosophy‘s brief history.

After a couple of visits to The Naam Restaurant, speaking with folks who live in the neighborhood and/or have eaten there in the past, and a superficial perusing of general online chatter that surrounds this establishment, I strongly sensed that this restaurant generates as much a fierce two-sided debate as say a discussion about the best political party to lead the province through these dire times,  what is the best balance between using tax payer money to promote the 2010 Olympics versus helping fund solutions to remedy the growing homelessness plaguing the city, or even what to do about Coach Vigneault.

Much like the other similar sounding ‘Nam, there is always controversy brewing and plenty of those around who think they have it all figured out and are correct in their judgment.

To begin, a little history and background on Naam.  It proclaims to be vegetarian.  Reporters have noted it to be one of the oldest natural foods restaurants in the city.  It is open 24/7, everyday except for Christmas Day.  And although the sample size is smaller, I’ve found that each time I’ve dined in there is always a lineup out the door especially at mid-day or on weekend brunch.

Once you are able to get a table, the overworked (and I think outnumbered) wait staff might come to your table in a timely manner.  And I’m not saying that to be fescious.  They truly are overwhelmed by the crowds, and given the laid back nature of this restaurant (heck, it has its roots in Vancouver’s hippie culture after all), diners are forewarned not to expect quick, attentive service or responses to any of your usual dining needs.

This could include things as just getting a menu, having your water served, the time it takes for the meal to come out of the kitchen and brought to your table, and hailing them down to receive the bill, etc.  Be patient, as it will come… in time.  As with any restaurant, as long as you know what you can expect, I think you should be willing to bend and adapt to the local customs or way they do things around here.  If not, I recommend you find your vegetarian or 24-hour food needs elsewhere.  The Naam is best left to those who are in no hurry, not pressed to fit their meal into a nice tidy one-hour time frame, and who generally are by nature, more accepting and relaxed.

For the food, there is part of me that welcomes the slightly funky twist that comes with the eclectic offerings at Naam that are different from your regular greasy spoon or neighborhood diner.  As an example, pictured above is the Croissant Witch.  Basically a split-in-half croissant is topped with what is dubbed “tofurella” (a cheese replacement) mixed in with scrambled eggs (of more tofu if you so desire) and veggie sausages.  On first glance, it looks like a regular hot top creation, and although I only had a few bites, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it.  And I am a noted carnivore.

As intriguing as the assorted more healthier options looked, I have never been a fan of whole wheat pancakes.  So I went with the Pancake Sandwich on this visit, which came with some fresh berries, whipped cream and maple syrup.  It felt more home-y to me, and it was a good sized portion, not overwhelming so that I felt stuffed.  I’m finding its not only the ingredients but also the portion control that is key to “eating healthy”.  Sorry for the diet-speak.

For die hards, I am sure The Naam will continue to be a favorite haunt for them.  For those who have heard the talk about this place, I am sure many will try and be satisfied and conversely an equal number will come away wondering what the hype is all about.  For me personally, I’m going to have to go the route of Switzerland here, neither extremely for nor adversely against.  It is what it is, a long standing business on the west side, catering to a specific clientele in a generally health conscious city, with an interesting take on classic breakfast and brunch items served up in a very casual, some would say slow, style.

Naam on Urbanspoon

Daikatsu Sushi – Vancouver, BC


Daikatsu Sushi
2090 Alma Street
Vancouver, BC
(604) 733 7331

Daikatsu Sushi on Urbanspoon

I’m not sure about my Foodosophy colleagues, but ever since I’ve become a contributor on this site, I’ve found myself becoming a bit more dangerous on the roads.  Nope, its not from having stuffed myself and with a full stomach getting that sleepy coma feeling, or being intoxicated with alcohol from some festivities, but rather due to the fact that I’m always scanning both sides of the road for any new or previously unseen eateries to add to my list for future visits.  All in the name of Foodosophy I tell you.

Well, while driving up Alma from 4th Ave recently, I caught a glimpse of some signage across the street from a running goods store, and seeing the words ‘sushi’, I thought to myself, oh no yet another place offering up this cuisine.  Now I should have kept on going, but instead I pulled over.  Rather than go home and have a proper home cooked meal, I zipped up my bullet proof vest and ventured into Daikatsu Sushi to take another bullet for the Foodosophy gang.

As simple as deep fried items seem to be, they really are tricky and give a good insight into the kitchen.  As such, I try to sample at least one dish to see where their oil is at, is it overused and dirty, are things fried at too high a temperature, etc. Tempura or Agedashi Tofu is usually what I use as my guinea pig, but on this occasion I felt like having some Ika Karaage.  As poor as my camera phone images are, they really did turn out that bad.  A classic case of cooked real fast in very hot oil, so much so that a lot of the exterior had almost reached the burnt stage.  I had to rip off a lot of the coating and just tried to eat the squid as is, but that in itself was not the greatest quality so this dish was a wash in my books.

Don’t know why I went with this, the Dynamite Roll.  I’m not a big maki fan to begin with, so not sure why I pointed to this on the menu to the server (who appeared to be the wife of the man behind the counter, as they spoke to each other in Chinese when not attending to any of the other customers – yes, there were some).  I suppose I knew my main dish to be ordered would not be that voluminous and I was looking for some filler here.  The rice was quite mushy, which turned me off immediately.  And the tempura lacked flavour and all I could taste was the mayonnaise inside.

Lastly, I present to you our fine readers, Daikatsu’s version of a Chirashi-don.  Small, yes.  Skimpy, yes.  Bang for the buck, no.  Heck, I sound like I am talking about a pint sized prostitute.  The tako (octopus) and ebi (prawn) were particularly nasty, as they just oozed out water when I bit into them, obviously not properly prepared/thawed out.  Throw in the obvious fact that there was no real decorative, eye-catching presentation of the toppings, and it just felt like it was thrown together with no thought for trying to capture any points for the visual.  I really must post a report from a seaside sushi bar in Japan, to try to help you picture what a really good chirashi can look like.

So there you have it, an entirely disappointing, but totally expected let down from another establishment with a pawn in the sushi game in Vancouver.  I hope the next time I do a random stopover, my discovery is much more positive.

Daikatsu Sushi on Urbanspoon