Manis - Whalley

After going to the Vaisakhi celebration, we had the idea that Indian food would be a good idea.... but  wait...everyone is at the parade. So maybe Indian food tomorrow. Something else today. Marie and I went to Manis a couple of years ago, before I was writing reviews, and we really enjoyed it. Today, on the return visit, we took Marie's granddaughter Juelle.
Manis is a pan-Asian eatery (leaning towards Malaysian) in a newish mixed use building on Whalley Blvd near 108th. Comfortable with chic decor, it was quiet at noon on Saturday (not too surprising as the rest of Surrey was a ghost town while Vaisakhi was going on).
We shared 3 dishes and had leftovers for dinner! All for roughly $40 including tax and tips. We asked for the Mee Goring to be non spicy. Juelle has not developed a taste for spicy just yet. Still this dish was richly flavoured with a generous amount of chicken. It was an  excellent version of Mee Goring! 
The Curried Chicken with Roti Parantha did have a nice little punch. The roti itself was decidedly ungreasy. The curry was rich was nice big  pieces of  very tender chicken and potatoes.I think this was one of their lunch specials.
And of course, Laksa is our go to dish! Believe it or not, VL's Curry Bowl is our benchmark for Laksa and this one stands up very well. There was a fair amount of chicken, shrimp and tofu with a very nice coconut curry broth. Maybe not quite as rich as VL's but memory can be subjective. In any case, we would rate it excellent!
Our server was very gracious and friendly and helpfully packed up our leftovers. I don't mind when folks bring us containers to pack our own leftovers but I do take note when some one does it for us. Its just a little extra measure of service.
Manis Pan-Asian Eatery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Vaisakhi Celebration Surrey 2018

Vaisakhi marks the establishment of the Khalsa community of Sikhs  by Guru Gobind Singh on April 14, 1699. It has special significance for any persons who believe in the freedom to practice one's religion without persecution. My partner and I decided to walk in from a distance to the Surrey Vaisakhi celebration on April 21, 2018 and were thankful that we did as traffic ground to a halt in the surrounding streets.They told us there would be a lot of people there (possibly a half a million!) and they were right! Beautiful people in colorful costume as far as the eye can see!

I have been a fan of the Sikh community since I learned of their generous attitude towards persons  in need. One day several years ago, while exploring Vancouver's Chinatown and its environs, I came across a table that had been set up by a group of these people and they were providing hot meals to the city's most unfortunate residents, right at the corner of Main and Hastings. Now I know that many groups offer help on the DTE but the Sikhs were set up on the front line. It literally brought a tear to my eye. Langar (if I understand correctly) is the concept of the community kitchen in temples where a free meal will be served to any visitor regardless of their status or religion or other. It emphasizes the equality of all who share the meal together. A beautiful practice! And this attitude is carried over into the rest of the lives of the Sikhs.
The thousands present were entertained by music at various stages along the street. 
Many groups and vendors were set up including the Sikh Motorcycle Club who were helping young men to don the turban!
And in harmony with the principle of Langar, there was an abundance of food. My partner and I gladly tried a few of the offerings. We tried a mild but tasty Curry with Rice. It was a vegetarian dish with what I would call dumplings made of garbonzo flour.
Of course, there was Pakora. These were very good especially considering that this food was being produced and distributed (by volunteers) in enormous quantity!
And finally, we tried a simple dessert of rice, sweetened and with raisins and cardamom. Very nice! Thank you to our generous hosts! Now I have to admit that I am not a crowd person and it was not too long before, no matter how well behaved this large group, I started to feel the need for space! We had arrived at the south east corner of festivities and learned the the parade itself was probably still a couple of hours away! So I am sad to say, we did not see the parade. Still we were so impressed by the scale and good will of the celebration, that I think we will try again next year to actually view the parade! 
BTW, congratulations to brothers Sarjit and Baljit Singh Sabharwal who have made it their quest to make the celebration greener by promoting serving dishes of paper or sugar cane based which will biodegrade in a short period of time!

Little Donkey - Fort Langley

A perfectly blue sky on Thursday evening drew us to the river at Fort Langley. Its a wonderful place for a leisurely (or brisk) walk. Or why not a paddle? On the river, we saw folks kayaking, sculling and dragon boating!
Fort Langley is a lovely little strollable community of antique stores, coffee shops and restaurants, knick knack stores and even some serious BC history. We generally avoid it on the weekends but its not so busy that you should be scared away!
Little Donkey, one of said restaurants, is a place with a very nice story behind it. Check out their web site and read about Katerina and you will also want to visit this little family run  restaurant. The food menu is simple (i.e. burritos) but there are enough interesting choices to satisfy most folks. To be honest, I have never been a big fan of burritos. I kind of expect to get a giant tortilla filled with rice and not much else but that was not the case at Little Donkey.
Marie and I had a couple of burritos (they will also serve these things as bowls making them gluten free) and a Jarritos soda and were stuffed....but not with rice. We had a Fishmonger's Burrito which had a huge amount of tasty cod but was moist with salsa fresca, chipotle, tomatoes etc.! 
We also had a Currito Burrito which was mainly curried chick peas but with peppers, potatoes and other tasty bits (a vegan choice). It was an excellent mild curry. There are hot sauces at your table if you want to sweat! 
Little Donkey is an eclectic mix of tables, chairs and counters for eating and interesting what nots including an old timey record player and record collection. You can sit comfortably and watch the world go by through big windows or enjoy the soundtrack. We heard some Creedence, some Grateful Dead and Police and the music just seemed to top up the experience! Order at the counter and one of these friendly folks will deliver your food and drinks to your table. I am really happy for Katerina and her family. I think they have a good thing going here!
Please note that at the time I posted this blog, there was a Zomato rating of 2.9. The math on the rating is completely wrong. The real rating  based on 11 reviews could not be anything less than 3.9 or 4! Time to check your formula Zomato!
Little Donkey Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Uncle Lu - Richmond

Sorry Sanpoutei Ramen! You lost our business today! It is not your fault other than the fact that you located in Kam Do Plaza! When every single one of too few parking spots in a strip mall is reserved by one of the businesses, then there is not going to room for some customers. I should expect that on Sunday in Richmond and just stay away. Having worked myself into a bit of a lather about that, I realized that a larger parking lot and Taiwanese food might calm me down! Hello Uncle Lu with your very snazzy menu covers!
Uncle Lu is located in Continental Shopping Centre, where parking is not perfect but far more customer friendly than Kam Do. I always fall for colorful, picture laden menus with so many choices and combos and admittedly, we had a bit of a hard time deciding just what to eat. I have come to realize that almost anything can be made better by deep frying (some possible exceptions are coffee and non dietary items such as shoes).  That is certainly the case with Abalone Mushrooms!
These were wonderful and meaty. Just a hint of basil and crisp and hot. We did not regret ordering this as a starter.
My partner was craving soup (which explains the Santpoutei Ramen parking debacle) and so ordered Marinated/Deep Fried Chicken Soup With Noodle. At first she felt like the soup needed salt but when it had cooled a bit and she put some of the chicken in the soup (not sure if that is correct procedure or not) then it started to shine. Very good broth, nice chewy noodles, some sprouts and not too much else. Very pleasant!
I am a fan of Red Fermented Pork and I enjoyed this version. The bean curd flavour was strong but not overpowering and the pork was served in thin slices.. The side dishes were also tasty especially the bamboo shoots. Even the tea that was served was very nice. I think our server told us that it is Malt Tea (barley tea if I did my research correctly) which was a little like brown rice green tea but maybe with a bit of sweetness. I will have to try some at home.
I like the high ceilings and lanterns in Uncle Lu. Big windows keep it bright and airy. Our servers were friendly and nicely attentive. I am glad that the ramen thing did not work out!
Uncle Lu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sakura Days Japan Fair - VanDusen Botanical Gardens

Nothing spells spring, when BC residents slowly crawl out of their winter dens and desperately search for the sun (smirking to themselves in the knowledge that the rest of Canada will not be following suit for perhaps many weeks) like Cherry blossoms. Sakura Days at VanDusen Gardens celebrates Japanese culture...and lets us enjoy some Cherry blossoms at the same time.
This year, the sun poked through the clouds occasionally as we strolled the grounds but there had been enough rain in recent days that wandering too far off the paths occasionally led to getting wet socks. 
We listened to some lovely music, read some Haiku and I even attempted calligraphy when invited to do so. I have opted not to display the results here as I'm afraid that my attempt to write 'cherry blossom'  might be mistranslated, possibly even as something insulting!
Well, we might have come for the food also! A few food trucks were set up on site
Mogu Japanese Street Eats was very much on our radar. It turned out to be both thrilling and very disappointing. We tried their Sweet and Spicy Karage Chicken which was amazing! Sweet and slightly spicy as advertised but also hot and crispy! Unfortunately, they didn't offer anything else! 
Thats not to say there were no other trucks on site. We had a Yakisoba combo (with beef) from Teriyaki Boys. It was tasty enough and the noodles were great. No bargain at $12 but I think I don't think we expect bargains at festivals and from food trucks, do we?
From Zakkushi, we had 3 Teriyaki Chicken Skewers Sweet, with a nice little char, these folks had one of the busiest booths at the show. And close to a bargain at $6!
And finally, as it was chilly on Sunday morning, we tried a Green Tea Matcha from Ichyo's. it was very pretty and warming but a little too seaweedy for my tastes. Yes I said seaweed! I did a little reading (not a huge Matcha expert) and that flavour can be the result to too much heat or whatever or, it could just be the taste that is intended! I just don't know about that. All in all, a lovely few hours in a beautiful garden with some decent east too!
Mogu Japanese Street Eats Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Di Reggae - Whalley

In the less than spiffy area around 108th and King George, there are surprisingly some interesting international noshing choices for the hungry citizen. We have enjoyed Mexican, Korean, Asian fusion, and intend to try Ghanaian and Nigerian food all within a few blocks. Most recently, we made it to Di Reggae and enjoyed some Caribbean cuisine.
Di Reggae is an informal mix, to say the least, of mismatched tables and chairs and plants and Bob Marley posters and it feels warm and homey! We sat on a couple of squeaky chairs at a table with a map of Jamaica, reveled in the music and the friendly manner of our hostess. 
Jamaican Patty
We started with a requisite Jamaican Patty. This one was chicken, not too stuffed with filling but there was a bit of spice to it. The pastry was wonderfully flaky.
Deep Fried Plantains
We also enjoyed some Deep Fried Plantain Chips. I was expecting something crispier but these were on the meaty side and tasty. They were served with an nice house dressing that was along the lines of honey-mustard and a Caribbean style Scotch Bonnet Pepper sauce. This pepper sauce was of the blow-your-fool-head-off if you're not careful variety. 
Ackee and Saltfish
For main courses, we had the Ackee and Saltfish and their braise of Oxtail. The saltfish (cod) is soaked overnight to remove the salt before being cooked with Ackee, which is a fruit that reminded me a little bit of jackfruit. It was a subtly flavoured dish that we both enjoyed. The oxtail was 
amazing. Tender and rich with potatoes and dumplings. Very Nice! Both entrees were accompanied by rice and peas, salad and a deep fried bun.
There is a lot on the calendar at Di Reggae. You can check their website to see when they have live music and even comedians and other fun sounding events. Decent pricing and lots of other menu choices including curries, rotis and various jerk dishes as you might expect. Park where you can see
your car and then enjoy the warm atmosphere and tasty food at Di Reggae.

Di Reggae Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Firecrust Pizza - Langley, BC

During Pizza Palooza organized by Van Foodster almost 2 months ago, one of our brief stops on the trail was Firecrust Pizza in Vancouver. I was very impressed with their product and in chatting with the manager, was thrilled to learn about their new Langley branch. Yesterday, my partner and I got to visit that store and can confirm that high quality pizza is now available in Langley. Previously, I was embarrassed and refused to acknowledge my maybe once a month Dominoes habit. That was before I saw that David Chang is an occasional, not so closet Dominoes consumer as revealed on "Ugly Delicious",  his Netflicks series. But there is quite a difference between Dominoes pizza and what Firecrust is striving for in their Neapolitan 'style' pizza.
Maybe the biggest single difference is the use of 00 flour in their pizza crusts and then cooking those crusts (and their toppings) in a 900 degree wood burning oven for 90 seconds. The result is a
Rosemary Ham and Pineapple
pizza whose crust is a little bit charred and has a lovely distinct chew. The crust becomes more than just a vehicle for toppings and is a wonderful element in itself. Despite informing my partner that pineapple was specifically shamed as a pizza topping on "Ugly Delicious", that is her go to, so that is what we ordered. A happy partner is more important than all of you believing that I am too sophisticated to eat such things (well, I already confessed about Dominoes , didn't I?) ! To be honest, it was tasty enough as the tomato sauce and Fior di Latte (fresh Mozzarella) and  rosemary ham made for a very good base. Neapolitan style a always little leaner on the toppings presumably so that the crust is not lost. All in all, a very good pizza. 
Prosciutto and Arugula 
We also ordered Prosciutto Arugula. There was quite a bit less char on this pizza (more is better to a point) and I assume the bakers are still learning their craft. I watched them minding and organizing the wood fire and performing a balancing act with three pies to give each one time in the hot spots of the oven. Not a simple process. This time the final 2 toppings, peppery Arugula and thinly shaved and excellent Prosciutto were added after the crust, cheeses, olive oil and garlic are baked. Again beautiful and delicious final product. 
Caprese (our way)
We decided to try a salad, a Caprese (labeled 'our way' on the menu) that came with a nice mix of greens including more arugula, some spinach, frisee etc. The star was the Fior di Latte. A very mild fresh cheese with lovely texture. Of course, we had left over pizza, having ordered too much but I am happily enjoying it for breakfast now. Line up at Firecrust and order your pizza cafeteria style. The staff are friendly and helpful. A few of the pizzas are available personal size and they also offer salads, soups and beer and wine and a couple of desserts.
The finished product gets delivered to your table. Then enjoy your pizza!

Firecrust Neapolitan Pizzeria 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...