Veronica's Gourmet Perogies

I'm ashamed of myself for mostly ignoring this little Aldergrove gem in the 5 or 6 years that I have lived here. I'm not sure how long Veronica's has been here but photos inside the shop indicate that it is a family business that has been around BC for at least three generations.

Located just south of Fraser Highway on 272nd, Veronica's does not have a dining room (and that is not just a pandemic thing). They mostly sell frozen perogies and some of the other Eastern European tasty items that you might expect to find on the same table. One day though, this sign caught my eye!
We ordered Deep Fried Strawberry Perogies on the spot because who wouldn't? These, we picked up 10 minutes later and rushed home to greedily consume them!
And they were, as you would imagine, pretty spectacular! Hot and crispy from the fryer with wonderful and sweet fresh strawberries and a dusting of powdered sugar. It was at that point that I realized that I should be showing a little more love to Veronica's. Within the next few days, we picked up some more items from their regular frozen foods menu to try.
It was a little tough to chose because they build a lot of different perogies here including all the way along the spectrum from sausage to vegan with a few surprises along the way. Ultimately, we stayed simple with a roasted garlic and potato concoction in order to put their basics to the test. My late brother-in-law was a perogy dough aficionado and his own technique was stellar so I can comment on what I believe were very good perogies. The wrapper is the key as with so many dumpling-type foods from around the world. These from Venrica's were excellent being tender but just strong enough to contain the prize inside. We followed the simple directions to boil (from frozen) and then pan fry and were greatly rewarded.
We also got some of their Borscht which was rich and tasty. There are many ways to make borscht and this one had its share of beets but was not as overwhelmingly beets. We liked it!
Another dish that goes so well with perogies is Cabbage Rolls and so we put Veronica's to the test. These were their beef cabbage rolls and were quite tasty.
All of Veronica's products are crafted with care. As perogies are truly labour intensive, I am impressed at being able to get them at a decent price. Of course, grocery store perogies are cheaper but come on! There is really no comparison. Oh, and on Friday, they prepare a hot lunch combo that you can pick up to go.
Give Veronica's Gourmet Perogies a try!
Food             4 1/2 out of 5
Service         NA but they were ready when they said they would be. Nice folks too!
Comfort        NA
Value            4 1/2 out of 5

Veronica's Gourmet Perogies Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Phnom Penh

The week that, "Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain" was released, we finally made the pilgrimage to Phnom Penh, the long-time Chinatown fixture and one of Vancouver's most acclaimed restaurants. It is not a high-end type of acclaimed restaurant but a little more of a low-key with amazing food type of place that should be on every foodie's must-dine list. It is also famously one of Bourdain's Vancouver stops bringing the little restaurant almost instant crowds that we still see today.

We arrived at Phnom Penh at 11:30 am on Saturday (they open at 11:00) and there was already a 30-minute wait (it turned out to be a little less than that) and by the time we were done, the line up stretched down the block. Fortunately, they will take your name and text you when your table is ready so that you don't have to just hang out on the street.
Of course, we ordered the famous Phnom Penh Deep-Fried Chicken Wings frequently reviewed as the best wings on the planet! We've had a lot of great wings in recent months but these would definitely land near the top of the heap! They are first of all lightly breaded or battered and fried but still moist and tender. They were covered in garlic when they arrived and we were struck by the lime and black pepper dipping sauce. Not sure if they are the greatest wings ever but they must be close.
Among the other most well know dishes from Phnom Penh is the Filet Beef Luc Lac (Shaking Beef?). This was beef marinated and cooked in a sauce that included oyster sauce, garlic, sesame oil and soy. It was silky and tender and very rich and served over rice with a runny sunnyside up egg. Very nice and a meal all by itself.
Next up was their Stew Beef with 2 Kinds of Noodles. This was a generous bowl and despite the fact that some items here are a little on the pricy side, this dish could easily serve as lunch all by itself at only about $13. There was a generous amount of tendon and tender brisket as well as the noodles. The broth was rich and flavourful and we would definitely order it again.
We don't often have room for dessert (this was no exception) but the Durian with Sticky Rice was too tempting to pass on. The durian was basically in sauce form with a few tasty chunks. It was a creamy and excellent dessert that I'm not sure that anyone could replicate at home without an outside kitchen (although, durian is probably available either frozen or in cans).  It was not overly sweet but velvety in texture and deliscious. Very nice!
Not an unpleasant or uncomfortable room but always busy and noisy in a good way! Service was efficient and very friendly and our server was careful and gave excellent advice! If you've never been here, of course, a visit to this institution needs to be on your list.
Food                  4 1/2 out of 5
Service              4 1/2 out of 5
Comfort             4 out of 5
Value                 4 out of 5
BTW, the Anthony Bourdain movie brought back pleasant memories (I watched his shows religiously and have his books) but we knew that the ending was going to be rough. It was a personal journey through his life and I didn't feel like he was put on a pedestal or anything like that. AB did serve to open the minds of a lot of people to the variety and wonder of world cultures and the difficulties too, that our fellow humans face. It is not an exciting movie but it may be of interest if you were a fan.
Phnom Penh Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Uncle's Snack Shop

Uncle's Snack Shop arrived with a splash not too long ago and we drooled when looking at the menu and Instagram pics. They are Richmond Public Market adjacent on Westminster Highway and since we found ourselves at the market, we decided to finally check them out.USS had not started indoor dining at this point but there were at least 7 tables outside of which we grabbed one in the shade on their patio. Some of the tables were a little close to the parking lot and street traffic for our tastes. I guess if they are quite busy, a roadside table would do in a pinch. Uncle's is not a health food cafe but we still found our way first to the most unhealthy item on the menu, the Chicken Skin Chicharron. Of course, we're not here for our health but it could be argued that the sheer joy that this snack brought contributed to our well-being. Crispy and fatty with a bit of a sticky sweet sauce, these were quite delightful. Don't eat a whole order yourself.

We seem to be eating a lot of chicken wings these days and these are rated right up there in our books. Most places seem to accomplish a level of crispy but tender and these were no exception but they came with an interesting citrusy (lime leaf) and salty flavour that made for a nice variation.
For us, one of the true stars of this show was the Salted Egg Pork Ribs. I'm not quite sure how they made a sauce of it but these tender ribs tasted of salted egg yolk. For me, it is a wonderful, tasty but way underutilized ingredient. I order anything I see that includes it but wasn't expecting it on a rib. Don't miss this!
We tried a couple of their sandwiches but they all sounded good. The Uncle's Classic starts with tender deep-fried chicken and is finished off with all the things you expect from a katsu joint. There is that finely shredded cabbage as well as pickled onion and aioli. The bun was simple but soft enough to be able to squeeze the whole thing together and get a good bite (assuming that you have no manners and lots of napkins). This was a very good chicken sandwich.
Another surprise on the menu was the Cheesy Eggplant Sandwich (sorry, I just can't say sandy or worse, sando. Does the word sandwich take too much time?). The eggplant itself was deep fried and made a crispy, meaty patty that was supported again by the cabbage etc., but also mozzarella cheese and miso glaze. Very nice and maybe just a little less guilt-inducing as it qualifies as vegetarian.
Probably open for dine-in by now, there are two rooms at Uncles and room for quite a few tables. The staff here were quite friendly and the prices were low ($9 for most sandwiches and $6 to $9 for the smaller bites). This is a great place for a creative and tasty quick lunch or snack. We're big fans.
Food                      3 1/2 out of 5
Service                  4 out of 5
Comfort                 3 1/2 out of 5
Value                     4 out of 5


 




Zaatar w Zeit and Imagine Van Gogh

We went to and enjoyed greatly, Imagine Van Gogh at the Vancouver Convention Centre. We are not art experts but everyone knows a little about Van Gogh and in the first stage of the exhibit, you have an opportunity to read about his troubled life and career. By the time we got to the actual exhibit room, we were already feeling a little sad for this man who seemed to know so little joy in his life. In the actual exhibit, we were treated to floor-to-ceiling (including the floor) projections of his paintings. Sometimes one painting would be displayed all around us and other times various pictures/paintings were displayed on different screens.

The constantly changing exhibit lasted about 45 minutes and was accompanied by a sympathetic variety of classical music from Bach to Schubert to the tunes Flower Duet and Aquarium. It made for a moving and beautiful experience that I would recommend.
BTW, the Don Maclean song is called "Vincent" and not Starry Starry Night and no, they did not play it. Stay clear of the gift shop.
We emerged peckish, as we often do, and made our way to Zaatar w Zeit on Granville.
The Granville Street location is Canada's one and only while this chain seems to be thriving in the Middle East. We could not ask for a better recommendation than that.
ZwZ is a counter service place and has a surprising amount of comfortable seating. They deliver your order to your table when it is ready.
From the ready-to-go section, we grabbed a jar of Tarator (just tahini with lemon juice) that would make to trip home with us.
Not that we're big fans of wraps but we love Halloumi so we ordered the Halloumi Bacon Wrap which turned out to be a winner. It also included tomato and mayo wrapped in oat flatbread. All of the flatbread here is house-made and baked when you order it. It was quite impressive.
Next up was the Classic Zaatar Manousheh. Zaatar is a sesame seed concoction with sumac and oil which is quite delicious. Combined with their excellent flatbread, you have a great snack for only $4.99!
Finally, we tried one of their flatbread pizzas. The Mediterranean was a mix of cheeses, olives, peppers and very good olive oil, topped with arugula. Even though this was more bread, it seemed to be on the light and fresh side. Very nice!
Somehow, we seemed to eat only bread (which was fine) but these guys have some really interesting salads and soups and evidently pretty decent coffee as well.
Lebanese street food is not uncommon in Vancouver but we were impressed with this place. It is friendly, light and spacious and you can eat somewhat healthily. We always love the interesting flavours that Middle Eastern cuisine provides and at pretty reasonable prices. You could definitely do worse for lunch or dinner in the downtown core.
Food                  4 out of 5
Service              4 out of 5
Comfort             4 out of 5
Value                 4 out of 5


Fisherman Frank's

When I first saw in an article at Vancouver is Awesome, that a new food truck was showing up in Steveston, my first question was how is that possible? We have all recently read about the grief our friends from Shameless Buns had endured thanks to Richmond City Counsel and (no doubt) local Steveston restaurants who did not like the competition provided by SB and others (sorry but food trucks are everywhere and here to stay). It turns out that Fisherman Frank's has a connection to the federal Steveston Harbour Authority (as a client and fisherman out of Steveston Harbour for 40 years) and has set up in the SHA parking lot with their approval and it is not really any of Richmond's business! At least that is my admittedly oversimplified understanding of the situation from talking to the fisherman himself and from more carefully reading the article on Vancouver is Awesome. We are still pissy that Shameless Buns has been relegated to Terra Nova Park by Richmond, but we're happy to see that Fisherman Frank's (after a lot of work) has been able to sidestep the bullies!

This beautiful past Saturday morning, we arrived to sample FF's wares, which we enjoyed at a shaded picnic table just in front of the Cannery National Historic site. You could not be blamed for expecting to see pictures of great fish and chips but that is not what these folks are about!
First off, FF's has a mixologist on their staff (of 2) who will not settle for selling Coke and bottled water. We started with a Blackberry Ginger Fizz featuring locally farmed blackberries and finishing with a sprig of mint. It was delicious and profoundly refreshing for a hot day!
You won't find anything deep-fried at FF's but you will find very good quality seafood prepared in a way to make it shine. They had only a few servings of Seviche so we selfishly grabbed one. Served on a tostada where shrimp, scallop and tuna marinated in lime and I'm not sure what else.  Topped with avocado, cilantro and tobiko, this was a wonderful fresh seafood treat.
From the regular menu, we ordered the Pink Canoe. Not quite a po'boy but headed in that direction. Shrimp and scallops in big EZ sauce (not sure but mayo-based, a little spicy and maybe some Old Bay?), with double-smoked bacon on a roll. This was what all sandwiches aspire to be! We loved a big bite but we also fell to picking out little pieces of seafood and savouring them by themselves.
We also loved, "Not a Taco Truck". Two tacos made with lingcod this time, marinated in achiote to give it a bit of colour and a vague hint of pepper. The pineapple slaw was made with decent chunks of fresh pineapple and it was all accompanied by a cilantro crema and a pepper that I assume is a shishito. Another showcase of quality seafood!
So we are already big fans! Local and impossibly fresh or fresh frozen (just as good!), served in a way to emphasize its quality and thus wonderful flavour. A bonus is that since nothing is deep-fried, we might consider it healthier (we don't really eat out for our health)! These guys are enthusiastic about what they do and are willing to talk to you about it and I love that! I wish I had asked more questions (there will be a next time)!
Food                  5 out of 5
Service              5 out of 5
Comfort             5 out of 5 (It was a beautiful day and we found a picnic table nearby in the shade)
Value                 5 out of 5






Olive Garden

So, on the first of July, we took my parents (both between 85 and 90 years of age and not quite as spry as they used to be) to Cloverdale to get their second vaccine dose. That went well (no side effects as per the first shot) and then we all decided to go for lunch. A place that we used to go to as a family many years (decades even) ago was Olive Garden. A middle-of-the-road chain is never my first choice but we knew it would be accessible and everyone likes pasta so off we went.

They are located on the south side of the Langley Bypass at 200th. We arrived earlier than is fashionable at lunchtime and were seated right away. They do not take reservations but on their website, you can add your name to their waiting list instead of just showing up and getting onto the list. Everything is pleasant at Olive Garden. Service, decor and even the menu all add up to a pleasant if not exciting experience.
We started with Calamari for the table. It was tasty enough, served with a couple of sauces and was crispy yet tender. All in all, I have developed a preference for Asian preparations of squid compared to the Mediterranean versions but it was decent.
OG is known for their limitless soup, salad and breadsticks which come with some meals (or all of them?) or that you can order as a meal by itself as my Dad chose to do. I always liked the serving tongs and the pepperoncino that comes with the salad. And of course, there is freshly grated parmesan everywhere.
You've all seen breadsticks before but these are worth your attention. They are garlicky, salty and always arrive warm. You, low carb people, might as well stay away from this place. 
Mharie stuck to the basics ordering Spaghetti and Meatballs. She wasn't overwhelmed by the tomato sauce but she's used to the Filipino sweet version. I found the sauce to be not too bad, not overly acidic and tasting tomatoey as it should. We landed on the same page meatball-wise as they were decent and meaty tasting.
I ordered the Eggplant Parmigiana which made me happy. The eggplant slices were breaded and crispy. It came with spaghetti and more of the tomato sauce. The eggplant also came with tomato sauce and cheese.
Mom had the Cheese Ravioli which again, were not terrible. If you feel like everything is the same colour, that's because it was. If we'd tried harder, we could have ordered a little differently but this is what people come to Olive Garden to eat and it wasn't bad.
The room is nice. I guess it is based on an Italian Villa. Despite the fact that BC is starting to open up a bit starting July 1, we opted to wear our masks (and will probably continue to do so) and felt comfortable. We're not fiends for Olive Garden but it is hard to find fault. Prices at lunch time are reasonable with dishes hovering between 12 and 15 dollars.
Food                 3 out of 5
Comfort            3 1/2 out of 5
Service             3 1/2 out of 5
Value                3 out of 5
Olive Garden Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Peri Peri Shack

We have a couple of chains around Metro Vancouver that specialize in Peri Peri Chicken. The Peri Peri Shack is a more casual variation on that theme specializing more in take-out than dine-in (although they have a couple of tables).  

Located on Kingsway at Fraser, we phoned in an order and it was ready to go upon our arrival! That was not as easy as it sounds as we never use Door Dash or the other delivery services but the PPS website is glitchy as hell and we had trouble getting it to display the menu. Still, we persevered!
This was another take-out effort and we found that the grilled chicken offerings travelled well! Admittedly, our reason for visiting in the first place was that PPS was participating in the Vanfoodster's Best Chicken Wing Challenge. So we ordered their challenge entry wings, which are right off the regular menu. They come in all of the available flavours (as does all the chicken on the menu) and we choose mango. Check out their website to see all their flavours It was not spicy but the mango flavour was definitely there and very pleasant. The basic chicken is flame-grilled (as I am sure that you have figured out) and the sauces are added post-cooking. It works well. If you are looking for heat and flavour (Mango does not come hot), we noticed that they packed a container of their hot sauce which will certainly suffice to blow your head off. These were very good wings. The meat was moist and tasty and we liked the sauce.
If you don't like flame-grilled chicken, you will be lost here. That being said, don't assume that this is the amateur home barbeque hour. They do an excellent job. We also ordered a quarter chicken meal with their Citrus and Herb sauce. Again, very impressive, both the meat and the sauce. We ordered it with slaw which came in a fairly generous portion.
We tried one other side dish, the Mac and Cheese. We found this to be a good step above the usual half-hearted effort that one often gets at fast food joints. It was full-on cheesy with a nice sprinkling of parmesan or some close relative.
So we haven't picked a Best Wings Challenge winner yet as there are a few more places to try, but we were pleasantly surprised by The Peri Peri Shack! They don't do a lot of different things here but they do chicken very well. 
Food               3 1/2 out of 5
Comfort         3 out of 5
Service           4 out of 5 (friendly and our order was on time)
Value              4 out of 5 (decent pricing)

The Peri Peri Shack 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...