Chi Men - West End , Vancouver

I have been wanting to go to Chi Men ever since I saw pictures of their wall art! An interesting space doesn't make the food taste better but it puts me in a better mood and I expect that has an influence on my taste bud to brain communication.
Chi Men is a nice little space on Denman Street that I imagine gets very busy at times. I was there early and was seated right away. As you can see from the art, noodles are the main character here. I enjoyed their Beef Noodle Soup with 1.5mm noodles. There is a choice of 5 thicknesses, 2 of which were available when I was there. They were nicely cooked and maintained a bit of chewiness. I was disappointed to learn that they were not made in house but its not the end of the world.
The stock which is made in house was a little salty but had decent beefy flavour. There was a fairly generous portion of tender beef and some nice cilantro, green onion etc. I had a Spanish Mackerel
Salad which was frankly wonderful! Not to complicated; just a lot of smokey tasty mackerel and worth the price of admission. Chi Men has a few charcoal BBQ items on their menu in small taste sized portions and a couple of other interesting items to make it an inexpensive and enjoyable spot. 
The folks were friendly and efficient while the seating is comfortable and not too crowded. A nice place if you are enjoying English Bay or the West End!
Chi Men Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lee Yuen Seafood Restaurant - Guilford

Our love for and quest for great dim sum, usually takes us to Richmond. A one hour haul from Aldergrove but worth it to a foodie. However, I have read some good things about Lee Yuen and actually, some friends took me there, a long time ago,  for Salt Fish and Chicken Fried Rice (among other things) which was frankly amazing. So why not try their dim sum? I thought that we were in for a wait arriving at 11:00 am on a Sunday, but Lee Yuen has a fairly large dining room (and fear not, there is parking behind the restaurant) and we were seated right away.
Deep Fried Bean Curd Wraps with Shrimp
Arriving first was Deep Fried Bean Curd Wraps with Shrimp and we were off to an excellent start. Served with a black vinegar dipping sauce, these were very hot out of the fryer and so crispy with a succulent shrimp and spinach filling. Marie wasn't too keen on the spinach but I thought the vinegar was a perfect foil  for the greens.
Chicken Feet with Special Sauce
Next came some wonderful Chicken Feet with Special Sauce. We consider ourselves nearly bona fide experts on chicken feet now and these are some of the best we have had. Meaty and tender and the sauce is a wonderful tomato based concoction with peanuts and jalapenos.
Sui Mai
These were some large meaty Sui Mai. To be honest, I don't usually order Sui Mai. My brain was saying Har Gow even as I checked the box but I am not sorry that it happened as these made us happy. They were a nice mix of the shrimp and pork, moist and tasty.
Rice Roll with Beef and Cilantro
We usually order a rice roll and these were Rice Roll with Beef and Cilantro. The sauce was a little sweet and very nice while the beef was ground (I was picturing Taiwanese beef roll style) with the cilantro providing a perfect note. 
Deep Fried Dumplings with Pork and Shrimp
Finally came Deep Fried Pork and Shrimp Dumplings and these were also excellent. My partner loved the rice flour shell which was just a little sweet with again the nice shrimp and pork mixture inside! So we basically had 5 hits on our hands. It cannot be attributed to my ordering skills as little was what I thought I was ordering. If it is then true that there is very good dim sum outside of Richmond, then we can all take courage and continue the quest. Lee Yuen is a wonderful place to start. Nice people and efficient service! Comfortable digs. I can heartily recommend that you give this place a try!
Lee Yuen Seafood Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pizza Palooza 2018 - Part Two

When we last encountered our hero in part one of Pizza Palooza 2018, he was in grave danger of getting too full on good food to continue this adventure. There is little though that a good brisk walk will cannot cure and the trip from Firecrust to Davie Dosa Company is largely uphill and on that particular evening was shivering cold.
Davie Dosa Company
Half Lamb Curry and half 1235 Pizza
Davie Dosa Company, despite being the least pizzeria like of our stops was one that I looked forward to greatly as a huge fan of south Indian cuisine. The cheerful host was welcoming and got me seated in a comfortable booth. I looked forward to half Curried Lamb Indian Pizza and half Vegetarian (bell pepper, tomato, carrot, cottage cheese and cilantro) pizza. Alas, the lamb curry was not particularly impactful (I love a good curry) and the 'crust' was more of a fermented lentil pancake (tasty enough, but not the right vehicle for 'pizza'). Still, sometimes the details are the stars and the tomato chutney was strong and packed a punch while the coconut chutney was rich and excellent. The sambar too, which served as a dip, made the offering enjoyable. I intend to return and try their dosa which will likely show this place off to better effect.
Next came the long trek to Cordova Street and Ignite Pizzeria. In part one, I identified Ignite as Neapolitan but they self identify as artisan. Cool.
Mushroom and Truffle Oil, Fresh Ricotta
Even the walk could not make me hungry by this point which seems a little unfair from a restaurant review point of view but the offerings at Ignite were tempting enough. I tried a slice of Mushroom with Truffle Oil and a slice of Fresh Ricotta Pizza which featured basil, spinach and Kalamata olives. As at Firecrust the actual crust was a star here and would have been excellent no matter what was on top. It was thin and crispy with just a touch of that lovely char. For the mushroom slice, the truffle oil was not particularly in evidence but was still tasty enough while the ricotta slice was an excellent rounded group of ingredients. A smallish place, I expect they do a lot of take out business but it is nice enough to sit down, enjoy some pizza and watch the world amble by.
Finally came Stretch Roman Pizza Co. on Abbot Street just off E. Hastings.
Pancetta e Scamorza and Caprese Pizza
As the name implies, their pizzas are long and Roman style. I really did not know that was a thing but apparently one of the defining factors is that the dough contains more olive oil rendering in a little thicker but light and crispy at the same time. The offering here was Pancetta e Scamorza (which is so much fun to say) and Caprese Pizza. I confess that I could do no more than nible a corner of each and take the rest home for Marie, who had to work this evening. We both agreed though that even the next day, these are very good pizza flavours. The two cheeses (smoked mozzarella and bocconcini) really stole this show. My intention is to return when I am hungry and bring my partner. I love the long pizza boxes and the corresponding shaped insulated delivery bags! Another casual chic space to sit and enjoy or take out!
Thanks again Van Foodster! What's next? I can't wait!
Stretch Roman Pizza Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pizza Palooza 2018 - Part One

Thanks Van Foodster for organizing this enjoyable event! The weather could have gone either way but as long as we were dressed warmly (I chose to walk the whole route) we were fine. Pizza Palooza consisted of visits to 5 restaurants (they were ready for us) in the downtown and Gastown, serving pizza to one degree or another. Two restaurants served Neapolitan style pizza, one served Roman style, one served Lebanese style flat bread and one specialized in South Indian dosa (they were the ones who reached the most to accommodate the 'pizza' theme).
We gathered briefly at Living Products Aisle in Yaletown to pickup our maps and tickets and receive  a sustaining beverage for the road ahead. I chose Blue Majik Flow. I can't remember what was in it but blue is one of my favorite flavors! This is an interesting little juice shop with a plethora of green things growing in containers waiting to become juice.
I started with the coziest of the 5 locations, reasoning that since I was early, I might beat the crowd. Manoush'eh has been here 3 months and according to the clientele is turning out very good authentic Lebanese flat bread.
Falafel Flatbread and Lahm be Ajeen
I am a big fan of falafel and what they presented to us here was a Falafel Flatbread with tahini, tomatoes and (my favorite ingredient) pickled turnip. The other have of the offering was organic spiced beef. This was very enjoyable and the gents running this place were all smiles and friendly and I would have been tempted to take up space there for a long time but I had to press on!
Firecrust Neapolitan  Pizzeria is located at the corner of Davie  and Howe. Walk in the door and place your order and they assemble it, moving you along 'Subway" style (sorry for that). Then a gentleman who can handle the heat, slides your pizza into the brick oven. In 90 seconds or so, something amazing emerges which gets delivered to your table. I ordered a Margherita but as I was moving along, the Gorgonzola looked so good that I asked for a little of that on one side.
Mostly Margherita
A true pizza connoisseur would probably be mortified but  I kind of liked it.The true Margherita side was genius with silky mozzarella fiore di latte. My strategy to last the evening without getting too full was already failing. I thought that if I did not eat my crusts that I might not fill up but this dough was made with true pizza 00 flour and chared a little bit. It was amazing and could not be left behind! The manager Mark is very interested in his clientele, checking in with folks in the room. He informed me that their new location in Langley actually burns wood (not permitted downtown) and I am anxious to try for myself. I hate to give it away in part one but this was my favourite pizza of the evening. This is a very nice space where you could linger and enjoy yourself and maybe watch a game.
Sorry Marie! (my partner had to work and couldn't accompany me this evening but I did bring her some leftovers!)  Say tuned for part two!
Firecrust Neapolitan Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mi Mexico - Burlington, Washington

When we venture to the US of A, we have a few loose rules about where to eat. For example, my partner and I rarely eat at Asian restaurants down there. We live in Metro Vancouver so why would we? Be it south, south-east or east Asian food, we lack for nothing here! That being said, we are not the strongest when it comes to Mexican, Soul or Barbecue (Oh, settle down. I know we have a few decent places!) although things are improving. In America, the force is strong in these cuisines! One more thing that we try to remember is that restaurant portions south of the 49th are often geared to satisfy hungry linebackers! Sharing an entree is often the smart thing, unless you are actually in training for the Lions. We forgot that particular rule at Mi Mexico, although considering that all the folks leaving as we were arriving were carrying to go containers, we shouldn't have.
It was a rainy Saturday evening at about 7 when we arrived. Our taciturn hostess clearly would have preferred to be elsewhere and who can blame her? Forced to work Saturday evening in her parents restaurant (totally just guessing) when she could be out having fun! The rest of the wait staff we found to be friendly and accommodating. Mi Mexico has pretty standard maybe a bit stereotypical decor, not that I mind. There are Mexican beer flags, a few iguana on the wall and some sombreros
for good measure. There are some comfy booths as well as tables and chairs. Complimentary chips and salsa arrived first which is nice.
I like to order a tamale at a Mexican restaurant that is new to me. I find it is a good test of a Mexican kitchen. This one was fine, came wrapped in the corn husk which I like and was not too dry. The combination came with a taco and an enchilada and the requisite rice and beans, and in there somewhere is a bit of a coleslaw. Lots of cheese, a bit too much salt but hit the spot overall.
Marie is our official Chile Relleno taster. This one probably started off well but the meat sauce, which tasted too much like spaghetti sauce, kind of rendered it soggy. I thought the poblano itself was nice and meaty and the cheesy filling was flavorful. Aside from that, the rest of the platter resembled mine. Here is where we could have shared a plate as neither of us got more than halfway through. Generous portions for sure.
Marie's daughter was with us on this occasion and had the Queso Dip Burrito. Again, a pretty generous portion and she seemed to enjoy it. Overall, not an unpleasant experience. Not the most amazing either but home style, generous and not too expensive. I would consider stopping by again if I found myself hungry while passing through Burlington.
Mi Mexico Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Impossible Burger at Ram in Marysville

I promise that I will not use this blog to preach at you...well maybe just this once. If you are concerned about climate change (and you should be), then you can take shorter showers, drive a smaller car or an electric car or use transit more and recycle. But the thing that you can do that will make the biggest difference is to be a vegetarian (don't panic or hit delete yet) as animal agriculture is by far the greatest producer of green house gas on the earth not to mention a huge consumer of precious water. If you have not done so already, go immediately to Netflix and watch the documentry Cowspiracy. I am watching it for the second time and freaking out. I am not a vegetarian. I call myself a "weekday vegetarian" (sometimes I even cheat at that like this week at "Pizza Palooza") and have been to one degree or another since reading "Diet For A Small Planet" back in the 1970s. I am pretty decent at it for a guy who is left to his own kitchen devices most of the time. In coming weeks, I am going to do a few posts showing how I make that idea work for myself. Maybe some of it will work for you. Even being a part time vegetarian will help the planet, not to mention your health and even your pocketbook.
With all that in mind, I was quite excited to hear about "Impossible Burger" recently. We have all tasted less than impressive vegetarian patties but this is something quite different.Go to and read about it. As soon as the opportunity arose, my partner and I set out to one of the nearest places to sample this new product and that brought us to Ram Restaurant and Brewery at Marysville (Tulalip).
This is a busy noisy place and we arrived on Sunday afternoon but were seated right away at a comfy booth where we could watch multiple sporting events and the bustling room. It is nicely decorated with local sports memorabilia and boasts a lot of local brews and evidently capable bartenders. A perfect place for friends to watch the game but we came on a mission! We got to the main event which was to try the Impossible Burger.
Impossible Burger and Coleslaw
0% Animal
And we both agreed, it was very good. It was grilled on the flat top with an excellent crust and I never would have known it was not beef. I kept cutting small pieces to taste it by itself but, while it could have been thicker (and rarer; we were offered the choice but I oddly asked for medium) it was almost but not quite indistinguishable from beef. All this and saving the planet too! I am very excited! I hope Impossible Burger will one day soon be available in grocery stores. Ram served it as a simple burger on a tasty bun with a very good, strongly horseradishy coleslaw.
We ordered Deep Fried Artichoke Hearts as a side which were very nice also. They were a bit dangerous as the pickled artichoke hearts tended to release all their liquid on the first bite. Watch out for that! Service was very nice and efficient and management even agreed to take a couple of pictures of the burger being grilled which I have not included here (sorry). Thanks so much. The menu is not just about Impossible Burger!. Folks can have a nice meal and a great time here even if solving climate change was not in the forefront of their minds! 
Ram Restaurant & Brewery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bubble 88 - Surrey Central

It is hard to go wrong with Taiwanese food (so many tasty possibilities) and Bubble 88 is a good choice, hidden in the Royal Bank strip mall adjacent to Surrey Central Mall. Unfortunately, I have a terrible time making up my mind at this kind of place, especially if there is a decision to be made within the choice (do it yourself combos). I briefly considered just asking for one of each!
Popcorn Chicken
We arrived seriously starving on Sunday afternoon (someone should have eaten breakfast!).We ordered Popcorn Chicken almost before sitting down to keep from falling completely into a low blood sugar fog. It arrived quickly and was hot, salty and tasty and moist inside. We happily munched it down in no time and were soon able to see straight and make up our minds as to the rest of our meal!
Curry Brisket and Rice Combo
Cucumber, Tofu, Cauliflower

I have a weakness for Curry Brisket with Rice and order it often. The "banchan' that arrived with it was somewhat impressive. The cauliflower was quite plain but very refreshing and a good foil for the rich curry. I did love the curry but I spooned a lot, I mean a lot of grease off the top. I guess that is the consequence of nice fatty brisket but I feel like the kitchen could have handled some of it!
Seafood Noodle in Soup

My partner ordered the Seafood Noodle in Soup.and it came as a generous serving with plenty of seafood. The broth was chicken stock and the noodles were just cooked enough to maintain a bit of chewiness. To be honest, the squid seemed a bit too fishy for my tastes but I liked the white fish pieces.
Deep Fried Boneless Chicken Leg with Rice
 Finally for my partner's 6 year old granddaughter, whose company we were enjoying that day, we ordered Deep Fried Boneless Chicken Leg with Rice.I am not sure what the process would be for deboning the chicken leg for this. The legs tend to be full of tendons that would make the process a little tedious. But deboned and pounded thin and deep fried, this was a tasty dish and Juelle, who eats like a bird, enjoyed the bird, and had some to take home. I have to say that I heartily recommend this combination. The rice was topped with some bits of stewed pork belly. Very Nice!
Taro Bubble Tea with Pearls
And does anyone go for Taiwanese without Bubble Tea? Service is efficient as is the kitchen. Everything arrived in fairly short order. There is a station with containers so that you can pack up your inevitable left overs for later! Bright and comfortable inside, come try something tasty from their extensive menu!
Bubble 88 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sal y Limon - South Surrey

Any place with pictures of  Mexican wrestling masks included in its decor deserves a visit. If they serve tacos (or actually host Mexican wrestling), so much the better. Sal y Limon recently opened up in South Surrey in a very nice space with some eclectic Mexican art including the above mentioned masks...and yes, they serve tacos and much more!
I was a little excited about their taco options, all at the friendly price of $2.60 ($3.00 with cheese).
Roasted Lamb Taco
Shrimp Taco
Fish Taco
Slow Roasted Spicy Pork Taco
We tried 4 tacos (of the 17 listed choices, many of which are vegetarian) all with cheese, 2 tortillas, and onions (either raw diced or pickled) while the fish and shrimp tacos also featured finely sliced cabbage, tomato dice and a nice bit of dressing. We loved them all! The shrimp and fish were both crispy and right out of the fryer, while the lamb and pork were both rich and flavourful. All were a good balance of ingredients and were nicely messy. Eat over the table and be prepared to use a lot of napkins. 
I kind of embarrassed myself by taking too much salsa from the extensive salsa bar (well, I wanted to try everything !) and not finishing half of it.
Salsa Bar
The salsas were not of the chunky salsa fresca type for the most part but of the more liquid variety. Some packed a fair punch including diablo and a surprising peanut salsa. Following the tacos we enjoyed a Huarache Al Pastor. The tortilla served under the huarache was a thicker more solid

platform for a more substantial combination. Included were beans, cabbage, red onion, jalapeno, chunky salsa, sour cream and fresh cheese along with our choice of marinated pork with pineapple. It was delicious! 

We finished with a couple of Churros, my partner's new favourite dessert. They were soft and warm on the inside, crispy on the outside with a nice dusting of cinnamon sugar and a drizzle of chocolate. A fine conclusion to a nice meal. This is a bright friendly place, with a play area for small children. Not too expensive, they are bound to do well!. Come get some tacos!
Sal y Limon 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...