Hosoonyi – Edmonds, WA


Hosoonyi Tofu Restaurant
23830 Highway 99
Edmonds, WA
(425) 775-8196

Diverting off the I-5 near Lake Ballinger and hitting the Pacific (or #99) Highway, passing by what seems to be an endless number of places that are in love with the flavour of teriyaki, you can discover a fairly well known Korean restaurant called Hosoonyi that specializes in sundubu jjigae.  This spicy hot stew is a classic dish in Korea, eaten for lunch or dinner, alongside a bowl of steamed white rice and of course, the usual roundup of side dishes (banchan).  So with the good things I’d heard about it, I was quite excited to have a meal here on a return trip from Seattle.

From the outside, it looks nothing particularly spectacular, nestled inside a secluded complex housing other eateries such as what I believe was either a Vietnamese pho place or a bubble tea shop.  There is a decent sized parking lot surrounding the area for customers, as it seems a vehicle is required for getting here.  At the dinner hour, the room was quite full of customers, young and old, singles and families.  Usually a good and reliable sign that the food is good.

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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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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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Puka Dog – Honolulu, HI


Puka Dog
Waikiki Town Center
2301 Kuhio Avenue #2
Honolulu, HI 96815
Tel: (808) 924-7887
Hours: Monday – Sunday, 10AM to 10PM

Refreshing twists to orthodox food or dishes is a delicate balancing act when it comes to yours truly…

For some things, I am a devout traditionalist and really appreciate those who respect the “old way” and cringe at words like fusion, or “east meets west”.  At other times, I am much more lenient with a chef’s creative inspirations and open minded to trying something “different” from the classic interpretation.

I can’t say I have a hard and fast rule to describe where this fine line exists, but it could be that it rests with just how “common” a food item may be.  The more “everyday man” food it is, the greater the probability that I will accept a variation that is above and beyond the standard image I hold of it in my mind.  Dear readers, would you say you hold a similar or contradictory mentality when it comes to “new ways of doing food”?

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It was by just sheer chance that I came across Puka Dog while strolling along Kuhio Avenue.  Previous to me stepping in front of the doors, I had never heard anything about this place and thus was unaware that it had a cult following and had received some press from the likes of the Travel Channel (as the manager of the store keenly mentioned to me when he asked what brought me to his counter).

I responding that the lettering on the glass window facing the street suggested to me it was something unique and thus curiosity got to me.  The influence of Japadog in Vancouver probably got me thinking this way –  another way of presenting and flavouring simple hot dogs?  That’s something I just had to try.

The ordering process is your basic conveyor line approach.  Walk inside and the cashier takes your order.  Step one, choose either the Polish sausage or Veggie dog –  the latter being a much thinner wiener from what I saw (and apparently harder to get cooked right in their grill).  Next, select the heat level of the “garlic lemon secret sauce”: Mild Original, Spicy Jalepeno, Hot Chili Pepper, or Hot Hot Habanero.

Then the flavouring choices diverts into two paths: Tropical Relishes or Traditional (ketchup, mustard, regular relish).  Not sure why you’d want to go with the latter, as that doesn’t really make the whole experience happen, but some in line I heard did.  The Hawaii-influenced relishes include Mango, Pineapple, Papaya, Coconut, Banana, and Star Fruit.   I elected to try the Mango relish and added a side that came in a small cup of the Hawaiian Lilikoi mustard, as recommended to me, and it indeed was a good match when pasted in with the small ice cream cup wooden spoon.

Watching the construction of the dogs is interesting.  As seen from the above image, the buns first of all, are not your regular hot dog type.  The soft texture reminded me of the delicious Filipino bread rolls better known as Pan De Sal.  Each long single bun is wrapped in paper and literally pierced on one side down the middle (with “puka” meaning hole in Hawaiian) by placing it on this rack of hot steel tubes that look like mini missiles that heat and toast the core.  The sausages are placed in a grilling deck that shoots them out once they are fully cooked in a nearby resting tray.  The key here that really surprised me was just how evenly crispy the sausage was, even at both ends.  Taking that first bite, it was like a cap tearing off the tip of the dog – great for crispy food lovers.

Once the bun is ready, some squirts of the garlic lemon sauce (from plastic bottles) and the relish (from the multiple relish taps that line the counter much like beer taps in a bar) is deposited in the bottom of the bun.  Next, the wiener is inserted with some tongs, and then more of the sauces are added in from the top. With multiple orders, I could see how painstaking a process this is, in making sure you are putting in the right type of garlic lemon sauce and relish into each dog.  Nothing worse than expecting a mild tone and finding an erroneous inclusion of hot Habanero sauce!  Eating it feels very much like consuming a donair or Shawarma as you work your way down the bun trying to keep all the insides from dripping out of the paper envelope.

As much as I enjoy your standard fare hotdog with ketchup, mustard and relish, this Puka Dog was so unique not only in its flavoring combinations but the texture and cut of the bun and the all-around crispy wiener, that makes me proclaim that perhaps its my new favourite type of hot dog.  I only wish they had an outlet on the west coast of Canada.  If you are ever on Oahu, or Kauai (their first branch), I recommend you give it a try as the hype is well deserved!  Oh, and don’t forget the fresh squeezed lemonade.

Puka Dog (Waikiki Town Center) 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