Torafuku

It's about time. A restaurant with so many accolades (a wall of certificates near the washrooms and a front door full of recognitions) should not have waited this long for us to darken its door. Torafuku is located along a questionable stretch of real estate ( Main Street between the Ivanhoe and the American) which surprisingly houses quite a few decent eateries. We made a reservation, which may or may not be necessary on any given day, for opening time on Canada Day.

It's not like it's any kind of leap for us to come here as Torafuku is an Asian fusion joint that serves all kinds of stuff that we love, starting with dumplings.
Called, I Love Dumplings on the menu these were just really good. The usual pork filling, very tasty, thin wrapper and typical toppings, herbs and chilli vinaigrette. A great way to start a meal.
We ordered 2 Kick Ass Rice Bowls. The first was The Chicken And Crack Rice meaning, fried chicken, crack salad and rice. Don't be alarmed by the crack salad. I didn't think to ask about the name but the salad is some good vegetables with parmesan and a bit of lemon flavouring. The fried chicken was another of those great things that we would eat every day if we could. Crispy and hot and perfectly tender. You are likely familiar with the rice part.
The other bowl was the Duck Rice Bowl. The soy braised duck leg was very tasty but a bit on the chewy side. I guess that is almost always the case. The bowl was nicely rounded out with tofu, egg and radish and even some greens.  Nice variety and a satisfying lunch bowl.
In addition to the food, we found that the decor and even plates reflected some serious creativity. We had individual serving plates that appear to be shards of pots, each shaped a little differently and then finished was a grey colour. I loved these things.
The dining room has a sort of an industrial feel with a polished concrete floor and even a concrete communal table and wall design. Our server was friendly and the kitchen seems efficient. That's probably not surprising given the accolades this place has collected. Pricing for lunch is very reasonable.
Food                  4 1/2 out of 5
Comfort             4 1/2 out of 5
Service              4 1/2 out of 5
Value                 4 1/2 out of 5 






AHA Indian Food Paradise

Another day, another Indian Restaurant in Aldergrove. Not that we object at all, especially since the latest couple including AHA Indian Food Paradise, have had exciting menus with food from traditions all over India instead of just the usual Punjabi-style food that we know and love. To be honest, we have lost a couple of Indian restaurants in Aldergrove recently so we seem to have reached a kind of stasis!

The menu at AHA includes some of our long time favourites including our always order, Fish Pakora.
It was maybe a couple of bucks more than we usually pay at $13.99 but this was a generous order of perfectly cooked very good quality fish. Probably some of the best fish pakora that we have had (but who can remember anymore?) and we would definitely order them again.
This is the first time that Dosa has been available in Aldergrove! We had been more than willing to drive to Scott Road for dosa but they have done a very nice job here. Delivered folded up for take-out purposes, I imagine (plus I chopped it in half for photo purposes), I cannot really claim expertise but these were delicious! And think of the gas savings that this will create! 
We love a menu that has dishes that we've never tried before. Gongura chicken is a dish from the Andhra region of India (east coast towards the south) and is cooked with a red sorrel paste. We had to try it and we're glad that we did! It was rich and earthy. Delicious! We definitely don't have to stop at butter chicken when eating Indian!
Another dish that we have never tried is Curd Rice! Also called yogurt rice, this was a real peek into a new world of flavour! Creamy and refreshing, this is cooked and mashed rice mixed with yogurt, pomegranate, dal, and some kind of leaves (coriander?). Served cool, it is a wonderful new thing to us.
Finally, we are very excited that AHA is open early and serves Indian style breakfasts! I have always assumed that Indian people eat breakfast but, I've never seen it on a menu. So Saturday morning, Mharie and I stopped in to try a few things.  The first thing to arrive was the Choley Bhatura Plate. Two hot puffy pieces of bread with raita, a delicious garbanzo bean mixture (chole) as well as red onion and lime pickle. We mixed and matched in no particular order and loved everything.
Next up was the Paratha Plate. Two stuffed flatbreads (we chose aloo which is cauliflower and potato, and paneer), which also arrived almost too hot to handle. This was served with yogurt, chutney and more lime pickle. Delicious! 
We ordered this as a combo and so it came with Lassi in this case sweet with rose flavour. (you can also ask for it salty) Very nice! This place is run by a brother and brother-in-law who are originally from South India but who have gained experience all over the world. They were very attentive and eager to share their thoughts and hear ours. The dining room is a little sparse at the moment but certainly not uncomfortable. They are so recently opened that maybe they are waiting for wall artwork.
This place is really quite special and we now kind of think that Aldergrove could become an Indian food destination!
Food                  5 out of 5
Comfort             4 out of 5
Service              5 out of 5
Value                 5 out of 5












Never Too Late Cafe

I am not sure about the name as they close at 9:00 pm most days. Presumably, then 9:15 is too late... Still, we had a hankering for salty deep-fried Taiwanese food and were willing to make the trek...and be on time doing it.

Located in Terra Nova Shopping Centre in Richmond, we arrived just after opening on Sunday morning and were seated right away.
Whenever I see milkfish on the menu, I order it for my wife. It's her favourite fish. This time it came with rice, an egg and some broccoli. The fish was nicely pan fried with crispy skin.
We were craving fried chicken and so ordered Fried Chicken with Noodles in Soup. This was very good although the soup itself was on the bland side and the stock was too light. This was balanced out by the very salty but perfectly cooked fried chicken. I imagine that the salty/unsalty was purposeful but one without the other would be a huge miss. Together they were a hit!
We wanted to try this Pork Floss and Egg Pancake Roll just because of the presence of the pork floss. It is certainly an ingredient that you don't want too much of as it tends to be dry. They did a good job here (I should have photographed a cross section of this thing) and the crunchy cucumber worked well to offset the floss. Very tasty.
The Signature Pork Belly Bao was pretty decent. There wasn't a massive amount of pork belly but the overall picture was very nice.  Good value for a tasty snack!
We could find no fault with the Deep Fried Squid. A little salty but decently tender. We love the basil that appeared on quite a few dishes. It's just a nice little side flavour.
So we like this place. What we had was tasty and not too expensive and there are quite a few other things on the menu that we would have been happy ordering. Our server was friendly and the place is comfortable, light and airy. We are big fans of Taiwanese food and it's often our first choice if we are planning to go out to dinner. Give them a try!
Food            4 out of 5
Service        4 out of 5
Comfort       4 out of 5
Value           4 out of 5








Henderson Place Mall Food Court

Henderson Place Mall lives in the shadow of the much larger Coquitlam Centre Mall across the street. We visited on a dreary Saturday and while the CCM was packed with masses of humans desperate to be out of the house, but leary of getting rained on in a park somewhere, we visited the vastly less crowded but somehow much more interesting HPM just across the street. Our first nice surprise was that the underground parking was convenient, uncrowded and complimentary for 4 hours, an unusually pleasant experience for an Asian Mall. The anchor tenant here is the very good New Pacific Supermarket and not a Bay or even a London Drugs but we are here for the food.

On this particular day, the main draw for us was Kashgar Uyghur Cuisine. A Google search of Uyghur Cuisine in Metro Vancouver elicits very few responses but this is one of them. The Uyghur people are generally a Turkik people, many of whom live in Western China. There are they are currently in the news because of their suffering at the hands of the shitty Chinese government for following their religion, Islam. Of course, the government denied the existence of concentration camps right up until denial was impossible (and of course, the 2 Michaels had nothing to do with Meng Wanzhou) but we're only here for the food, right?
The menu here is lamb heavy and we decided to try the Shank combo with Naan and Lamb Soup. The shank itself was ridiculously tender and basically fell apart. Amazing! The naan, on the other hand, was a bit on the bready side but we dipped it in the soup (the lamb shank meat ended up in the soup too) which is definitely the strategy that I recommend. 
The soup was clear, rich and beautifully flavoured. Also, we tried Sangza (a tasty deep-fried noodle affair)  and Samsa (a lamb meat pie) both Uyghur treats that we had never tried before. Additionally, they offer stir-fried noodles, salad and at least one chicken dish (if you're not a fan of lamb) and other things. Don't miss out on a chance to try this unique cuisine, all prepared by a gentleman who with his family came here from western China in the early 2000s. It could not be more authentic.
There are at least 3 or 4 stalls specializing in Korean or Korean fusion cuisine. We never miss a chance to have Korean Pork Neck Bone Soup like they had at Goru Goru Food.
This was a wonderfully rich soup with at least 2 or 3 neck bones which require a serious hands-on effort to get to the tender meat. Get plenty of napkins! I have become a real fan of the nutty perilla seeds that typically adorn this soup. Served with rice and banchan, this was a very good daily special at about $16 (?).
Admittedly, the Croquettes are just mashed potatoes, coated with panko and deep fried but I love them! Topped with mayo and tonkatsu sauce, these arrived hot and crispy!
General R has a menu that would be worth exploring in more detail. They serve a few soups, and dragon bones (not sure but I am going to go ahead and assume chicken here) but specialize in Asian-style burgers.
I will say that this is one of the best Cumin Lamb Burgers that we have had. The bun was excellent and must be made in-house. There was a generous amount of lamb (to be honest some pieces were a little tough) that was very flavourful and only $10.
Finally, as I had promised Mharie that I would get something deep-fried, we picked up a couple of snacks from Tokki.
The Deep-Fried  Squid was a little different from what we usually see. The long strips were tender enough and the batter was tasty and crispy. It came with vinegar for dipping. Make sure to bite through the squid to avoid dragging the batter off!
I also got a Cheese Corn Dog which was pretty decent! They have mustard and all sorts of condiments available. Tokki is not just snacks but has some more substantial dishes as well.
A few years ago, we visited Seoul Truck Street Food and posted on Zomato before I realized that platform would just crap out. STSF was a great place for KFC and other snacks. There are probably a dozen food court stalls here as well as a few notable restaurants in the mall. The Asian grocery store also has prepared foods and very good prices on vegetables etc., from what we saw.
HPM is such a better option than CCM when it comes to food court eats. Always seek out hidden gems like this place instead of automatically following the masses.
Food             4 1/ out of 5
Comfort        4 out of 5
Service         4 out of 5
Value            4 1/2 out of 5












Planted Expo Vancouver - June 4 and 5, 2022

We got our tickets for the Planted Expo at the beginning of No Meat May and have been excitedly looking forward to it ever since.

We got one-day tickets and chose to attend on Sunday in order to hear speaker Ali Tabrizi, the director of "Seaspiracy". The expo was at the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre and we arrived just before 10 in order to score one of the swag bags that were given to the first 500 people through the door. We arrived on time, but the swag bag was a little anticlimactic. Oh well, the bag provided a vessel for all the information that we collected during the course of our explorations.
You've probably all been to food events at the convention centre. This one was just like others except meat and dairy free! Of course, we were interested in seeing what was available for someone who is interested in living a cruelty-free, environmentally friendly and healthy life. We tried samples at Save Da Sea (among many others) and learned that they are suppliers of Cofu, the vegan sushi place that we visited within the last couple of weeks. Their carrot-based smoked salmon was startlingly good!
Eggs are a bit of a challenge if you are going plant-based. Of course, there is the agua faba solution (canned chickpea liquid) which whips up pretty nicely to replace eggs for baking. Another solution is to just not use eggs. However, Just Eggs provides a sometimes replacement if you really need to have that taste once in a while. At the Just Egg booth, they were whipping up a little egg breakfast sandwich which was actually pretty tasty! I have tried to price this product and you can apparently get it at Walmart for under $6. One bottle is the equivalent of 8 eggs (if I have correctly calculated) which is a little pricey but why not once in a while? Remember if you are not buying meat you can afford to splurge on Just Egg occasionally!
There were many booths providing their plant-based versions of meat replacements including Jackfruit Revolution. We already use jackfruit from time to time and it is tasty and provides good texture for tacos or chilli or whatever. While jackfruit provides a nice canvas for meaty flavours, it is not a protein. On the other hand, the plant-based diet provides plenty of protein and no one needs to panic if they are following a balanced diet. "Where do you get your protein?" is the first question that everyone seems to ask. It is not really an issue.
The main stage (actually, there was only one stage) featured speakers from several walks of life including athletes, chefs and even a dancer!
For me, the main attraction was the director of Seaspiracy a startling documentary that is available on Netflix right now. He talked about the adventure of filming, getting his product produced and also a mystery future project. 
We collected a lot of info on available products, most of which are local. We tasted enough samples that lunch wasn't even necessary! Presumably, this expo will be back next year. We urge everyone who is able especially you food bloggers, to get a taste of what is out there for people interested in following a more plant forward diet and maybe contributing to a better world for your children and grandchildren. 






La Loteria Mexican Street Food

I first sampled La Loteria when on a Vanfoodster Tasting Plates event back before the you-know-what hit. I had always meant to come back and try a few more items and finally got the chance. This review is based on a couple of visits to LLMSF back in April (or as I call it Meat April not to be confused with No Meat May) before I leaned in further on my plant-based eating journey.

Of course, I went thinking tacos but their menu features some other Mexican street food favourites. Located on Granville just south of Nelson, LLMSF is a small place with very limited seating inside and a couple of tables outside when the weather is nice.
Those of us who only think tacos need to expand our minds to include tortas. This was a wonderful sandwich with pork belly, pickled onions and feta on a very good Portuguese bun. I think the salsa on the side is their 'medium' jalapeno salsa. 
To be honest, I can't remember exactly what type of tamales I ordered. I assume it was the Frijoles and Queso con Raja because that's what I would order today when I look at the menu. Also to be honest, these were just a touch on the dry side (a common tamale problem) but that was remedied by adding salsa! Loved the pickled jalapenos and carrots on the side.
On another visit, I tried the chilaquiles which I don't actually see on their website menu so maybe it was a special of the day or maybe it's new. At any rate, it wasn't quite what I expected but tasty enough. Basically, chips, feta and more salsa.
Not everything at LLMSR is green. I just got into the habit of ordering 'medium' hot salsa. If I had realized that my pictures were going to be leaning to that side of the colour spectrum so much, I would have braved the hot. At any rate, this tostada with fried fish was also a real treat. Freshly fried and crispy, the contrast of hot fish and cool cabbage and salsa was very nice.
I wouldn't ordinarily order a popsicle but this was something special. Maybe because it was all or mostly fruit juice, this was icier than a store-brand popsicle. I loved the lime flavour with a bit of a type of chilli salt sprinkled over it.
La Loteria is the Mexican version of bingo that uses characters on boards instead of numbers and letters. Their website under "About Us"  provided that clue to their identity. Good service and good food. 
Food            3 1/2 out of 5
Comfort        3 out of 5
Service         3 1/2 out of 5
Value            3 1/2 out of 5







No Meat May 2022

" No Meat May's mission is to inspire and support more people to shift to plant-rich diets, so we can build a healthier, kinder, more sustainable world." This was the first time I had heard of the Australia-based NMM although they have been around since 2013, and the first time I participated. I did so by following a vegan diet as well as blogging about Metro-Vancouver vegan restaurants and posting pics on Instagram of the vegan products and recipes that we had tried. This is actually the third month this year that I have gone entirely animal product free and each time it is easier, I feel better, and I feel more determined to do what I can to contribute to the well-being of the planet.            

Someone suggested (actually more than one someone) that I should take a more moderate and reasonable approach (and I am by no means religious about it; nor do I proselytize). I wonder how the animals on factory farms or by-catch sea creatures killed for no reason would feel about being reasonable? (Enough of that! No proselytizing!)

This month, I saw the documentary, Seaspiracy. I watched it and was very moved and suggest that you see it also. The director of that movie will be at The Vancouver Planted Expo which we are very excited to go to on June 4 and 5. I knew there would be plenty of criticism of the documentary just as there was for the documentary Cowspiracy. If you choose to read that criticism (and why would you not?) ask yourself if it is even true, does it negate the essential points of the film? Plus I wonder where the money would lead? It seems that everyone's opinions are motivated by self-interest and greed rather than evidence. Just a thought. Let's move on!

This month, we tried some amazing new vegan products (or at least new to us)!

The Butler Soy Curls are something that we had to travel a bit out of our way to get but they were pretty special and provided another meat substitute option. 
This Sweet Potato and Kale Pot Pie featured the soy curls. The closest thing that I can compare them to is tofu skin but they are a little more substantial and are dried and so easy to store!
TMRW products are locally produced meat substitutes made strictly of ingredients that are pronounceable! 
We used the shreds to make some pretty decent tacos. We cheated and used Old El Paso seasoning which was way too salty but hey, at least we did make our own tortillas and our mango salsa was passable. The TMRW shreds were really good as far as texture and flavour are concerned and were perfect for these tacos. We find that TMRW products are a bit on the pricey side but there is a good variety of decent products. 
Another locally made vegan product is Blue Heron Cheese. We were able to use our 2022 Plant Curious Coupon Book to make this purchase at Save-On Foods. These were interesting cheeses with a tart earthy flavour and nice texture. Again, they seemed a little pricy but good cheese always is. 
We tried some other cheeses that we found. Of all the non-vegan foods that I do miss, cheese is the one that I miss the most so that is why we try quite a few. The blue on the left did not have the texture or blue veins but it had a very good blue taste. The cream cheese on the right was not good at all.
So it seems like there are always new vegan products available and some of them are quite good. We are big fans of the Real Canadian Superstore as they have all kinds of affordable decent vegan options. I regularly buy their coconut sour cream and oatmeal yogurt. Their vegan products carry a green label so just look around.
As usual, all these products are more novelty than necessity. For dinner, I am always happy with my curried lentils or black bean chilli with some quinoa or brown rice, lots of stir-fried or roasted vegetables and a little bit of tofu. Perfectly healthy and tasty, planet friendly and cheap!
At the risk of repeating myself and everyone else, there are 4 top reasons to go vegan or at least lean into the plant based eating thing:
1) Your grandchildren are going to bear the brunt of climate change if we continue on our current path. I do not want to be a part of the problem and animal agriculture and ocean fishing are a big part of the problem.
2) Nothing makes the mistreatment of other living things ok even if factory farming makes meat cheaper!
3) It is so much better for your health!
4) It's pretty cheap if you take it easy on buying vegan cheese.
I am not saying that I will never eat meat again but clearly, I shouldn't. None of us should but it's a huge change to make even if it is getting easier.








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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...