Western Lake Chinese Seafood Restaurant

Marie's sister and brother in law are in town from Manila as is her aunt and uncle and none of them had never had dim sum! This was a situation that clearly needed a remedy and we decided that it was Western Lake Chinese Seafood Restaurant. I took the advice of bloggers and reviewers who suggested that a reservation would be a good idea and it was. We were seated promptly upon arrival despite the line up being out the door. I had perused the menu on line and we were able to place our order right away. Not sure what I was thinking there. I ordered enough for an invading army. Thank goodness for take out containers.
Japanese Style Chicken Feet were first to arrive. This was a cold dish and a little bit chewy. Interesting. I'm not sure what makes it Japanese style. 
Pea Shoots Sauteed with Garlic. This was very tasty and garlicky. I had anticipated the need for something green and also ordered Gai Lan which never arrived (not a problem as...well you'll see).
The Rice Flour Rolls in Hot Pot with Spareribs were delectable. Very tender and flavourful pork which was meaty and not all bone. A little less hot pot than I expected with little or no broth.
My ordering was maybe a little too rice roll centric as in addition to the hot pot, we tried one dish with Chinese donut (loved the pork floss on top) and one with minced fish.
Actually, this was Bean Curd Roll with Minced Fish and was another hit. The minced fish was deep fried providing a crispy contrast to the silky bean curd wrap.
Can you ever have too many chicken feet? This was the traditional style, came in smaller more manageable pieces than the Japanese style and were wonderful. Worth the price of admission.
The Deep Fried Tofu with Chili Sauce was very nice.
Steamed Rice with Pork Toro and Salted Fish. A little too fishy for my tastes but my Filipina partner tucked into it like she was still starving!
And finally, I knew I was in trouble when the Har Gow arrived. I could see from the menu picture that there were only 4 so I ordered two baskets. I did not anticipate that they were enormous. They were also amazing and despite all out leftovers (I am having dim sum again today...and maybe tomorrow), we polished these off. 
Now on to the one bit of unpleasantness. I expect service to be curt in a place that is ridiculously busy. Despite that, the servers were accommodating and efficient, taking away empty dishes, answering questions and so on. However, my partner asked for glasses of water for us and she asked maybe three times. On the fourth request, it was her turn to be a little curt (It is water. We weren't asking for a special order to be shipped from Canton). Danny, (a manager ?) snapped at her that there were people waiting for tables and we were bothering them for water. That is a B.S. response my friend, even in a busy restaurant. It hurt Marie's feelings even though she acts all tough. I am not one to punch out a waiter but I can certainly tell the story to the 10 or 15 people who read my posts. Sorry, we won't be back! 
Western Lake Chinese Seafood Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cremino Gelato and Cafe - Maple Ridge

We decided to get started on Vanfoodster's Sundae Challenge making the trip to Maple Ridge to visit Cremino Gelato and Cafe.
Arriving shortly after noon on this holiday Monday, we thought we might have the place to ourselves but shortly after ordering and sitting down, Cremino exploded into business. I can't tell you that I'm surprised. Cremino has only been open about a year but they have a handle on this gelato making thing and have some amazing flavours. I rarely get to Maple Ridge but I imagine that they are quickly becoming legendary among locals.
We started savoury with a bowl of very good corn chowder (the soup of the day). With lots of corn and potato and a lovely hint of oregano. This hit the spot, even though it was a hot day.
Followed by a Caprese Panini, with melty fresh mozzarella and very good black pepper oregano bread, and pesto, this sandwich was also worth the price of admission.
Still, the Vanfoodster's Sundae Challenge entry was the the main event! The Insalata Sundae, with avacado sorbetto, pecans, balsamic reduction, pistachio pesto, lemon zest and dried cranberries, was certainly beautiful and complex for a desert. I found the individual components of this masterpiece to each be wonderful. I understand the concept of salty and sweet together being very good but in this case, I found the pesto to be a bit overpowering of the sorbetto. 
We were so impressed by the variety of Gelato flavours that we dove in again! Marie had a waffle cone with a scoop of mango and a scoop of stracciatella and it was excellent! Cremino is a family run business that has been open for about a year. These friendly folks have an Italian / Portuguese heritage and are drawing on that background for this lovely little cafe. Even if you are not from Maple Ridge, Cremino Gelato and Cafe is worth a visit!
Cremino Gelato & Caffè Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mag's 99 Fried Chicken and Mexican Cantina - Squamish

"Do we really want to drive to Whistler for the day on a long weekend?", I asked. It all turned out well. Traffic was not bad (it was Sunday) but finding a place to picnic ( for 3 or 4 carloads of family) was a bit of a trial. Mags 99 was screaming busy when we stopped on our return trip, but that is not too surprising.
Mags features some very good fried chicken and an interesting Mexicanish menu. What more could you ask? The evening that we were there the wait for food was 30 minutes as Vancouverites made their way home from the outdoors. This is a former Taco Bell and whatever fast food joint and the counter order and pick up your food system remains.
We started with a 2 piece and fries which was $10.50 and included a soft drink. The chicken was nicely seasoned and crispy but hit and miss as far as the tender and moist quotient is concerned. The breast not surprisingly tended to be a little dry and this was even true of a wing that one of our friends was eating. Fries were great being skin on and nicely fried.
We were unable to resist the allure of the Chimi Changa Loco (at $14.50) , billed as " a deep fried burrito sent from God to appease humanity." Speaking as a part of humanity, it worked. Filled with tasty pulled pork, rice, lots of cheese, corn, onions and topped with pico de gallo, crema and a wonderful chipotle cream sauce, it was both filling (no kidding) and delicious! 
Travelling with a crowd of family means that I can mooch and try more menu items. RJ ordered nachos and a Chicharon taco. To my dismay, the nachos came with ballpark/7-11 nacho cheese (although with some flavour added). I cannot get behind that. A similar concoction also came on the over cooked mac and cheese (again to my dismay). So, while I felt like I ordered well for a change, it would seem not every item on the menu is a home run.  
Still, this is a fun place with interesting decor inside and out.
It is noisy and entertaining and the folks working there are great. We'll be back the next time we pass through Squamish. 
Mag's 99 Fried Chicken and Mexican Cantina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hugo's Mexican Kitchen - Surrey

Since we made a poor showing on Vanfoodster's Poke Challenge, making it only to the first stop (Hey! Things get complicated sometimes!), I thought we should get going early on the Sundae Challenge! So off we went to the new Hugo's Mexican Kitchen on Fraser Highway in Surrey, close to Claytonwood Gate.
Alas, It turned out that the challenge sundae (or any other sundae for that matter) is not available at this location! Oh well. We have wanted to visit the new Hugo's and we certainly didn't regret being here, sundae or no sundae. This is a chic little place with some bar seating at a cool granite bar, some high seating and some regular seating and an airy open feel!  
The staff were very friendly, making an heroic effort to find out about the missing sundae! They started us off with addictive complimentary house fried  tortilla chips and 3 excellent salsas, one tomatoey, one smokey and one packing a punch.
We took full advantage of their happy hour menu, ordering Sopesitos, Tostaditos and Churros, with a Jack Fruit Taco for good measure! Their happy hour also has a good choice of drink deals.
These tasty little guys on small crisp corn tortilla were topped with pork, black beans, lettuce, pickled onion, cheese and a very nice crema. The crisp tortilla makes them a somewhat messy affair but I mean that in a good way! Eat over your plate!
We both loved the Sopesitas! You get much more corn masa taste from the soft house made bottom shell. They came with most of the same good stuff as the tostaditos. 
The Jack Fruit Taco is a vegetarian offering at Hugo's. Jack Fruit has a  savoury rich "meat" and lends itself to savoury dish situations. The taco was served with the usual taco trimmings and pineapple. Very nice!
And amazing Churros!
The menu here has a lot of interesting dishes including meals that come with the whole beans and rice thing. There is something for everyone. We're going to make a trip to Hugo's Churros in Richmond to try the Challenge Sundae but in the meantime we really enjoyed Hugo's Mexican Kitchen.
Hugo's Mexican Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Izakaya Gons

Ever since Vanfoodster's West End Tasting Plates, I have been excited to get back and try more of what Izakaya Gons has to offer. On that occasion, they served Wagyu Beef Carpaccio, vegetable tempura and a couple of
pieces of very well prepared sushi. On my finally getting a chance to return, with my brother and his boys (still visiting from Calgary) alas, I was not nearly as excited. I'm not saying anything was bad but...well, you'll see. We started with a couple of appetizers, Cucumber with Miso which was refreshing and tasty and
Chicken Skin with Ponzu. The chicken skin turned out to be one of those dishes that, after everyone tried it, became mine (Have some more?...No thanks. You have it.). I am not sure what I was expecting here. It was a cold dish as expected and was rich as expected
 but not too overflowing with flavour. A little salt, a little more ponzu, I don't know. 
The Healthy Daikon Salad was both healthy and refreshing. The miso - basil dressing was very nice and we finished it down to the last matchstick of radish. 
The Mixed Veggie Tempura was disappointing. It was no where near as hot and crisp as it should have been. I would suggest it had been waiting around for us but I don't know that. I do know what tempura should be like though.
The Karage Squid was very tender and arrived hot and crispy. This was the choice of my nephews and went over very well.  Next we went out on a limb and tried the Steamed Barley Fed Pork, which came with seasonal vegetables.
This was truly the least exciting of everything we had ordered. Of course, we could read that it was steamed but that was it. Steamed vegetables and steamed thinly sliced pork. This dish delivered exactly what it advertised and left us underwhelmed. Izakaya Gons leans toward healthy and low calorie cooking and that's what this was. And that's all. No complaints about service. The wait staff were efficient and helpful, accommodating my brother's lactose intolerance questions. The restaurant is comfortable and chic. I feel like I could have made better menu choices but really, everything on the menu should be memorable.
Izakaya Gons Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dinesty Dumpling House - Richmond

My nephews love wonton and my brother loves dim sum, so when I took a day off to hang with them on their visit from Calgary, we went straight to Dinesty Dumpling House. While they are open minded and will try anything, I felt the pressure of ordering for the table. I wanted to be sure that they tried something new but I knew I had to stick to some familiar tastes in case the new stuff didn't connect.
So we started with the Pork and Shrimp Wonton Soup. Personally, I am not a huge fan of wonton soup but I am going to tell you that this was really quite good. The broth was rich and had an impressive depth of flavour
that I was really not expecting (this owing to have eaten far below par wonton soup in the past). The wontons themselves were large and meaty with wonderful noodle wrapping. It went over pretty well with the boys too.
Soup dumplings were next and these went over well also. These were smaller than some of the Xialongbao that I have had in the past but this made them a single bite affair. Like the wontons, the pork inside were very tender and flavourful and the soup was just a quick tasty accent. The noodle wrapping was not overly thick nor too thin. I'd say it was just about right. We tried the pan fried version also which completely surprised me.
The fried part mean a crepe on which the dumplings were placed. You basically tore or cut your dumpling away with the part of the crepe on which it rested (they were stuck to the crepe). An interesting idea, I'm not sure if its traditional or innovation. We liked it either way! Beef Roll also fell into the category of familiar and did not fail to please. 

Nicely fried pancake, crunchy vegetables, decent beef and just enough hoisin.
 Under the heading of something new (but just barely), we tried Honey Lotus Root. This one did not win over the masses and after everyone tried it the rest of the dish became mine. That's OK because I really enjoyed the sweet tender slices. I can't help but think they would have enjoyed lotus root if it was served in some more crunchy form but this one was well cooked and more potato like in texture. 
Finally, we had Shredded Pork with Hoisin Sauce + Pancake and everyone enjoyed this. Wrap some pork and vegetable in a crepe and roll it up. What's not too like! Dynasty Dumpling House has an extensive and interesting menu that I would have enjoyed exploring further. Well, there's always next time!
Service was more attentive than I expected with someone rushing in to replace my nephews chopsticks when they spun out of his hands and onto the floor! Its nice to be able to see the folks in the kitchen preparing the dumplings too! 
There is no question about where your food comes from! I will be back with my partner too try some more at Dinesty Dumpling House.

Dinesty Dumpling House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Woo Korean BBQ - South Surrey

So my brother and his 2 boys are in town for a few days.One of their required stops is the beach at White Rock. It was a place where we spent a lot of time as kids and he wanted his boys to share his nostalgia for it. Nothing makes one hungrier than chasing tiny crabs around on the sandy sea bottom near the pier (no crabs were injured in the making of this blog post). And then there is the disappointment of realizing the rock is just painted white (Grey Rock beach?). So after getting too much sun, we went to Woo Korean BBQ to sate our hunger.
One of the newer restaurants near 160th on 24th in South Surrey, Woo is sharp looking and comfortable. We were seated immediately and the wait staff rose above and beyond the call of duty all during our meal, instructing us in the fine art of Korean BBQ when necessary! We four hungry boys decided on the Pork Lover's meal. It is a set for 3 but it filled us up and we took home left overs (although we did order spicy rice cake as well). It started with Banchan of course which included very nice shredded cabbage with a sesame dressing.
Two kinds of meat to grill arrived; pork belly and marinated pork ribs and soon we were smoking up the place (not really, the ventilation is seemingly state of the art).
It would be hard to pick a winner as both were very good although I am a sucker for marinated ribs.
Pork Bulgogi was a part of this. It was tender and slightly spicy and was maybe the favorite of the table.
Its also hard to go wrong with the Japchae. The noodles had a perfect chew to them. 
We needed some instructions for the Kimchi and Tofu but obviously its not that complicated. This was very good kimchi.
There was wonderful steamed egg. This was so silky and light and was one of my personal favorites.
We were also served a wonderful soup. It was not on the set menu, nor did we order it. I think it was the fact that we were so charming and such delightful customers. It was a rich and slightly spicy pork base broth with some tasty chunks of radish and vegetables.
Of course there was rice also but we, thinking that this might not be enough for four hungry boys, ordered Spicy Rice Cake which was also tasty with nice texture. This was a lot of food!. We ended up taking home  leftovers as the set for 3 would have been perfect for the fur of us. At $80, that seems like a great deal with some nice variety and its fun to have the centre table grill for the meat.
This is a great place and we couldn't stop talking about it. We will be back!
Woo Korean BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Are you guys eating again? At some point Marie and I became the kind of people who take pictures of everything we eat, whether in a restaura...