Pizza Mantra - La Pizza Week

La Pizza Week? Wasn't it just La Poutine week? The fact that it should be called either Pizza Week or La Semaine de Pizza aside, this is a bit of a Saputo promotional 'festival' but we don't mind since we discovered Pizza Mantra and were pleasantly surprised! 

Tucked away in a little strip mall on 202nd Street just north of 88th in Walnut Grove, their La Pizza Week featured pizza was interesting enough to make us willing to give them a try. We placed an order on the phone but they do have an online ordering system. Their menu features the usual pizza, pasta, salads, and a few Indian dishes and they are a takeout joint, pandemic or not!
Pizza 202 is their featured pizza with chicken, bacon, and pineapple on white sauce with lots of Mozzarella. First of all, this was a very good pizza that I would order again. Mharie (with the sweet tooth) likes pineapple on pizza and we are quite certain that it was fresh and not canned! Is that possible? It was firm and not a sweet as the canned stuff. I'm kind of partial to white sauce and they weren't cheap with the Saputo Mozzarella! 
We decided to try their Achari Cauliflower Pizza (also called Achari Ghobi on their menu which caused some unnecessary confusion when ordering) which turned out to be amazing! This was another white sauce pizza with, in addition to cauliflower obviously, there was red onion, jalapeno, fenugreek, ginger, cilantro, and assorted spices. This was earthy and tasty and I loved the fenugreek flavour (mistook it for fennel ). My new favourite non-Italian type pizza!
Finally, we ordered Punjabi Wings. All the wings here are baked and these were fat and flavourful! They weren't killer spicy but had just a touch of warmth with a few onions and green peppers. Nice!
This is probably it for us and La Pizza Week but we wanted to at least acknowledge it. And we are happy that we found Mantra Pizza!
Food                 4 out of 5
Service             4 out of 5 (ready on time and friendly!)
Comfort           NA 
Value                4 out of 5

Pizza Mantra Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Desi Rasoi

Desi Rasoi is another Indian vegetarian street eats take-out place that I had discovered simply by fooling around on Google Maps (which I am wont to do)! A young couple with some restaurant experience has gotten this place up and running only since this past November so it's not surprising that I hadn't seen it before. They are tucked in a tiny corner of a building, the purpose of which I cannot explain, at Scott Road and 95th.

They have been doing take-out only (and catering, I expect when it is allowed) since the start which was maybe a good plan. The customer area in this restaurant is so small that you need to step outside to change your order, so do everyone a favour and order online or by phone. They have an order system that allows you to set a pickup time well in advance (tomorrow at 5 say) which is very convenient. So we placed our order and drove all the way home to give it a try.
The fun thing about street eats is that you can order a bunch of small dishes. We started with Spring Rolls. These were filled mostly with noodles which made them a new and tasty experience! A bit of a carb-fest  (which doesn't bother us at all) but crunchy and tasty and they came with a sweet-spicy dip.
We have grown to love chaat and this one is Bhel Puri. Crunchy bits of crackers, puffed rice, noodles, and a tangy tamarind sauce. It's hard to leave it alone once you start dipping in.
This is the second time (second restaurant) that we have ordered Pao Bhaji. It's basically a thick vegetable curry served with a soft bun. We like the novelty of it and it is flavourful and rich but I don't think it will ever be our street food go-to dish. 
I'm not sure what I was expecting from Chole Kulche. It turned out to be a sort of white bread bun filled with potato and chickpea and some mild Indian spices. Not the most exciting thing in the world. We made use of the onions, chile and lemon to liven it up a bit.
Once again, I am thrilled with the surprisingly messy Noodle Burger experience! This burger is based on a sauteed potato patty and then smothered with noodles and a slice of paneer. It also comes with some usual burger ingredients like lettuce mayo etc. A slippery variation on the usual veggie burger, we liked this a lot.
I wouldn't really expect them to make their own tortillas but their tacos came with Old El Paso shells which weren't my favourite thing. They were a little lean on filling but were tasty enough, crunchy and a little refreshing. This happened to be Mharie's favourite so that shows what I know!
So full-on vegetarian which is good; creative and not very expensive. We applaud what they are doing here especially in mid pandemic! There is a lot on this menu that we didn't try including some creative beverages. We'll be back and we think you should give them a try also! 
Food                    3 out of 5
Comfort               NA
Service                4 out of 5
Value                   3 1/2 out of 5

Desi Rasoi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

JAV's Kaldero

JAV's Kaldero is a little Filipino place that is Guildford Mall adjacent and has very bad timing (opened January of 2020) but has survived probably due to serving some very decent eats.

They have a reasonably priced all-you-can-eat option but in these days of take-out only, we chose a few items from their a la carte menu. Pick-up was at their restaurant located at 101 and 152 just behind Wendy's and their inexplicably long drive-through line up.
We started with the Grilled Liempo with Rice combo. I should have taken my photo from a different angle so that you could see that it was not all rice. There was a nice portion of fatty tasty grilled pork belly and one thing that I have learned is that Filipino cuisine does good things (like other Asian cuisines) with pork belly. Like many Filipino dishes, it comes with vinegar which very nicely cuts through the richness.
Next up was Combo E which was only $25. It includes Pork Sisig, Tortang Talong, rice for 2 and 2 cans of pop. The sisig was frankly amazing. Fatty and rich most of the time, this version was almost luxurious and Mharie (more of an expert than I) agreed that it was some of the best that we have had. Always rich and filling, it was a generous portion (you don't need much) that lasted us quite a few meals.
Tortang Talong is one of my favourite Filipino dishes. An eggplant, butterflied I guess you would say, with a fluffy omelet mix of eggs and sauteed, it is on the lighter side. This one was very well done.
At some point in the near future, many of you will enjoy the experience of lining up at Jolibee, the iconic Filipino fast-food restaurant, for fried chicken. That place is known for its chicken, Filipino spaghetti, palabok, and a few other treats. JAV's has taken a run at the fried chicken and spaghetti and has done a pretty decent job. The chicken was crispy and moist but not 100% of Jolibee (which I have to say is top-notch). Their spaghetti is, however, impressive enough that Mharie gives it top marks and wants to order it for an upcoming family wedding (10 attending in total!). Not pictured due to my own carelessness, Filipino spaghetti is not what you expect (a little on the sweet side) but I urge you to try it with an open mind at least once. 
JAV's is a smallish independently, family-run sort of place that cranks out some very good Filipino eats (and we try to hit all the Filipino places). Check out their take-out menu and instead of lining up at Wendy's, expand your palate and try something new.
Food                    4 out of 5
Comfort               NA
Service                4 out of 5
Value                   4 out of 5
JAVS Kaldero Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

And Dough Japanese Bakehouse

After seeing some tasty-looking treats on the gram (is that still what the kids are calling it these days?), we decided to give And Dough Japanese Bakehouse a try. Ordering is by DM and you can pay by e-transfer (not much need for us to handle filthy cash these days, is there?) then schedule a pickup! The locations for pick up are either downtown, in Coquitlam, or in Surrey. They post the schedule and I believe pick up is always on Sunday. No problem! We decided to order one of everything on the menu! 

When we met and picked up our goodies, they told us that after getting all the orders for a given week, they spend roughly 3 days making everything from scratch including the Japanese Curry (don't we all have a box of Japanese curry in our pantry?).
When we got home our first project was to carefully unwrap all the Onigiri and slice them in half to give an idea of what they were about (made sharing easier also). Of the 6, Mharie's favourite was the beef , while I liked the kombu (smokey... almost tobaccoey?). In this picture, you are also looking at Kaarage fried chicken and tomago. My mouth is watering as I am writing about these comforting little bites.
The final 2 were tuna and Japanese plum. I loved the tart plum taste.
We carefully followed directions which meant preheating our oven to 450 degrees to warm the curry buns. Cutting these in half was not as inspired a move as with the Onigiri but really, it's about what's inside, isn't it? And what was inside was delicious! Curried beef and curried beef with a soft boiled egg are the two that they offer! Heating them gave them just a bit of crispiness on the outside! 
The only mistake we made was to not order more. Ordering one of everything only cost us $30 altogether. 
To be honest, their Instagram pics are better than mine but go there because you can learn some more interesting facts about their product. We are impressed with their entrepreneurial spirit and suggest you all take note of when they are taking orders and give them a try.

Little Devil's Wood Fired Pizza - Vancouver Foodster's Best Pizza Challenge

We're not going to get very far on this particular challenge, especially since Dr. B.H. is encouraging us not even to leave our boroughs at this time. I felt a little guilty as we crossed the Fraser into South Vancouver but I have a weakness for wood-fired pizza and the idea of it coming from a truck was too much for me.

And what a truck it is! You can imagine that a vehicle has to be a bit of a beast to carry around a wood-burning pizza oven, the weight of which, I could not even guess at. But that is what is necessary to crank out pizza like this!
We ordered their Best Pizza Challenge entry, the Vancouver Special and tried it sitting on the grass in the shade nearby. The key here is to experience the crust as quickly as possible after it emerges from the 850-degree oven. They take some serious pride in the pie crust starting with 00 flour and giving it time to double rise over many hours. The result shows as it has some crispiness and chew that we loved. For some reason, the Vancouver Special has pineapple on it but in subtle very thin pieces rather than big dole chunks which is brilliant. Crispy prosciutto is in crumbles which is also nice. Finally some garlic and chilli and Fior di Latte to complete the picture. Subtle and thin-crusted without being the usual Hawaiian pizza that kicks you in the teeth, we give this one full marks.
The Meat and Mushroom had the same wonderful crust but with some larger pieces of the crispy prosciutto which allowed you a little more of the 'cure' taste. This is another tomato sauce based pizza but this time with mozzarella and it made us equally happy. So much is about the crust and not getting carried away on the toppings!
I love a good Caprese and this one came with peppery arugula in addition to the basil. We liked that arrangement and the decent chunks of bocconcini.
We don't do a lot of desserts but this was another chance to try their impressive pizza dough but with a little cinnamon and sugar on top. It turned out to be another good choice. You want to get into this while it's hot or follow the reheating instructions provided on their pizza boxes.
They have some decent prices ($13 to $15) on the pizza and they are quite a treat. Watch for them and check for updates on Instagram.
Food                    4 1/2 out of 5
Comfort               NA
Service                 4 out of 5
Value                    4 out of 5

Little Devil's Wood Fire Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chicko Chicken

I feel like there can never be too many Korean fried chicken joints! Rib and Chicken right next door to Chicko Chicken in Langley might be inclined to disagree with me. The good news is that both businesses seem to be killing it with several outlets each.

Located just north of Fraser Highway on 206th, Chicko Chicken is basically a one-trick pony (it is a good trick) compared to their neighbours who have a little more variety on their menu. On the upside, although CC only does chicken, they seem to do it very well. These days I feel the need to rate a restaurant's online ordering systems in addition to food. The limitation to CC's ordering system is that you can only place the order while they are open (at some places you can even order days in advance with a specific time for pick up).

We tried the Padak Padak which is basically their original fried chicken with a mess of spring onions served on top! I'm not sure what has made this dish so popular other than the nice contrast between the rich chicken and the refreshing light spring onions. Recipes for padak padak included a vinaigrette to be spooned over the top but this version didn't come with that. Still, really good presumably double-fried chicken.
We also got a half and half order with Soy Garlic and Yangyeom. You are given your choice of bone-in or boneless and we ordered all as bone-in because frankly, boneless is just lazy. Both were very tasty and we are big fans of gochujang (I use it way too much cooking at home). The chicken itself was nicely crispy yet moist, just what you are hoping for.
Again, pickled radishes provide a nice contrast to the richness of the chicken.
Chicko Chicken has a small dining room with room for a few tables when that becomes a thing again. Prices are just what you'd expect; $12.50 for most half orders. The service was very friendly with the chef coming forward to offer us a big hello when we were picking up our order!
Food                4 out of 5
Comfort           It will probably be good someday     
Service            4 out of 5
Value               4 out of 5

Chicko Chicken Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Happy Singh Street Eats

I started seeing signs that work was underway on Happy Singh Street Eats months ago and somehow I knew even then that I was going to love it! Located at the corner of Scott Road and Nordell Way, this is not a small little take-out joint but a sizeable restaurant with a decent-sized covered patio which is important right now as dining is closed to all but take-out and patio service. If you are reading this 10 years in the future, Google COVID 19 pandemic (if Google is still a thing).

We placed our order online and it was almost ready on time. I didn't mind the short wait as it gave us time to explore a bit plus you know stuff was being made fresh. The menu here is endless. I recommend ordering online where you can take time and not feel pressured and you can actually place your order for pickup days in advance! You can also order at a couple of terminals just inside the door but seriously, there is a lot to choose from and if you are in any way indecisive, a line will form. I understand that under normal conditions, you would then pick up your order from the different appropriate stations but right now take-out is all picked up in one place. So we picked up our order and found ourselves a picnic table since it was a beautiful spring day.
We started with chaat but one we hadn't tried before. Samosa Chana Chaat actually had pieces of samosa along with chickpeas, onions, spices and all. It was a little filling and rich all by itself and could easily be a main dish. On the sweet side maybe just a bit and a little spicy. Tasty Indian food.
Cheese Pao Bhaji is a new one for us. It comes ready to assemble, toasted buttery buns, a vegetable stew of sorts covered in cheese with onions, tomato and cilantro for topping. It becomes a messy sandwich or half-bun if you like but it was full of flavour.
HSSE not only serves the northern Indian foods that we are most familiar with but some south Indian dishes also. We are mad for dosa, the large thin crepe that is filled with whatever you like but we really find that fresh off the griddle is the best way to have it. That being said, the take-out version of the Masala Dosa was very successful! We both noticed that the filling portion was generous and tasty. We liked that it was cut in half and crisscrossed in the takeout container. This was better than the square folded version that we have had and more practical than the map tube that I have suggested. Served with coconut chutney and sambar, we highly recommend this!
Rajma Masala is a tasty dish of moderately spicy red beans. Like a good vegetarian chilli but with Indian spices.
If you are interested in blowing your own head off, order some fried chillies on the side. We ate one each! We also had Boondi Raita and Stuffed Kulcha bread which were tasty enough but I am running a little long here and I want to show you a couple of pics of the restaurant interior.
Malpuha is an Indian sweet that we have never had but we loved it. Starting with a small pancake that is deep-fried crispy and then sauced with sugar syrup with some subtle cardamom flavouring, this is not quite as diabetes-inducing as some Indian desserts.
HSSE is a sleek modern place with an open kitchen and multiple serving stations where you will pick up your order once they are open for dining in.
I am not sure what the patio hours are but it appears to be comfortable enough and divided from the parking lot enough that run-away cars will not be a problem. Once again, we are keen on the online ordering system and intend to do some more systematic exploring of their extensive menu. You know, we didn't set out to eat vegetarian today it just worked out that way. So that's good, isn't it?
Food                        3 1/2 out of 5
Comfort                   4 out of 5   (nice patio)
Service                    3 out of 5 (almost on time)
Value                       3 1/2 out of 5

Happy Singh Street Eats Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

About Us

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...