Congee Noodle King

I believe that I could cut and paste my review of Congee Noodle House, change "House" to "King", and no one would be the wiser. For my money though, two of these is not enough. If they chose to open another one out the valley somewhere with its familiar green awning and endless menu, I would be forever grateful!
Congee Noodle King is a short walk from Joyce Street Station on Kingsway and we chose to go there for dinner this past weekend. We were seated quickly by our somewhat abrupt server who clearly had reached the end of her long shift. Our food started to arrive fairly quickly after we placed our order.
First up was Rice Roll with Chinese Doughnut. This was a good version with a crispy doughnut which is what one hopes for.
The Chicken Wings with Spicy Sauce were very good. Unbattered, crispy and hot, they were covered in chopped garlic, green onions and jalapenos. We found ourselves spooning up the 'sauce' even after the wings were gone.
Sauteed Cod and Creamed Corn on Steamed Rice turned out to be deep-fried which was just fine. This was a velvety concoction completed with some scrambled eggs that we have enjoyed in the past. I had to investigate whether their really was fish under that batter! It was thinly sliced but sure enough, it was there.
And finally, Shredded Pork on Noodles came with a clear soup on the side. We mixed it all up and savoured the meaty sauce. Loved the noodles which had just a slight chew and soaked up the sauce.
Congee Noodle King is exactly what you expect which is why we love it. Solid Chinese food with a lot of choices at a reasonable price. A little on the noisy side but that's OK. It's a place where families gather and visit and eat. Despite our one somewhat surly server, everyone else was friendly and accommodating. 
For what it's worth and for what Congee Noodle King is, we give it 4 out of 5.
Congee Noodle King Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


I have been feeling bad that we didn't get ourselves to Dixie's before they closed their sit down restaurant on East Hastings (they will continue to cater and provide eats through online order/delivery services) and hope that we don't lose more of the rather rare number of barbeque joints in Metro Vancouver.
Peckinpah's in Gastown serves real barbeque with emphasis on Carolina style sauces (vinegar-based).
We arrived early on Saturday and had our pick of inside or an outdoor table. We enjoyed a table by the window with a view of Gassy Jack surrounded by picture takers and Maple Tree Square.
To start, we tried their Fully Loaded Cornbread which gave us a chance to try their pulled pork. It was very good slightly crumbly cornbread with excellent moist pulled pork, baked beans and coleslaw. A surprisingly nice treat at only $5!
The rest of our choices came on a platter including some excellent Mac and Cheese.
I was mildly scolded by our server for trying to put the hot iron bowl on the table for a better pic as it would burn the wood table (The heat had subsided by that time and I am not stupid. No scorching of tables took place in this episode). The macaroni itself was closer to cavatappi and perfect for this dish as it retained a lot of it's to the tooth texture. A cheesy, bacony dish with a crumb topping, this was delicious.
The Collard Greens were wonderful and profited from a drop or two of the spicy vinegar available at the table.
A Fried Chicken add on was also ridiculously tasty. They couldn't call themselves a southern restaurant if that was not the case! Again only $6 for this taste but I would recommend trying the sandwich.
Finally the brisket and here we have mixed reviews. Marie really liked this beef citing the excellent bark (agreed) and very good smoky flavour (also agreed). With the addition of some barbeque sauce (again on the table for us) it was very good. For me, however, it was a little dry in places (common for brisket) and too chewy.
Still, overall we had a pretty good lunch. It's kind of a good place with a real southern barbeque vibe and I would go again, especially for the chicken and pulled pork and sides.
For what it's worth, we give Peckinpah, 3 1/2 out of 5.
Peckinpah Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Taco Fusion - Langley

Sometimes I just can't make up my mind, you know? Tacos or golf? Golf or tacos? Now thanks to the folks who run The Golf Den on Fraser Highway in Langley, I don't have to!
All part of their master plan, this friendly couple, originally from El Salvador, opened an indoor golf simulation / VR centre this past winter. Once that was nicely humming along, they opened the kitchen and started producing tacos, some Mexican style and some with an Asian flair! The next phase will be to get licensed to serve beer with the tacos. Don't wait though! The tacos are good now!
I'll be honest with you. I don't know which taco is which in the photos! They have six versions and you can read the details on their web site. There are a couple of traditional style, a couple of Korean style, and a couple of Thai style. These can also be grouped into spicy or mild or according to protein. I just said, one of each please...surprise me!
I can tell you this, the spicy had a bit of a bite but not quite enough to make me sweat. There was a generous amount of filling and tasty sauce in each and the vegetable part of that filling was not just an afterthought. There were cherry tomatoes, radishes and cilantro etc., which made me feel like they were assembled with care.
This is a small little place with maybe seating for 10. I paid just over $20 for six decent-sized tacos with double corn tortillas and a Coke. Essentially, this fed Marie and I as I promised to bring some home for here (she had to work late), so for just over $10 you can have an interesting lunch or snack!
Come for the tacos, stay for the golf. Or visa versa! Or just come for the pretty good tacos!
For what it's worth, we give Taco Fusion 3 1/2 out of 5.

Taco Fusion Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Barn Burner BBQ - Yarrow

With Big Day BBQ happening in Langley and Ribfest happening in Port Moody, I made the decision to attend the Barn Burner Barbeque contest in Yarrow.
Of course, I forgot to take into consideration that Yarrow is smack in the middle of the nightmare route to Cultus Lake. A single lane of traffic and way too many people trying to jam themselves into a way overhyped summer destination.
Once I had arrived, the barbeque folks were surprisingly well organized in parking and accommodating a pretty good crowd with entertainment of all sorts including music,
 a beer gardens, food trucks (seemed redundant), free bottled water, misting stations, a climbing wall,
and well, you get the picture. A good time was available to all.
The Pulled Pork judging had taken place at one o'clock so the contestants were in the process of giving out samples when I got there at 1:15 or so.
Twenty-one teams meant twenty-one small but tasty pulled pork samples. Of course, I didn't try them all. And I'm not in a position to judge as admittedly after a while, they all tasted the same. Very good but too close to call. The real judges have a serious skill set.
Someone won each of the five categories and overall but I did not hang around for the hardware to be awarded. To be honest, it was a hot day and I am too much of a wimp. I arrived, observed, tasted some good stuff and headed for someplace air-conditioned.
Next year, I might strategize for surviving the hot weather a little better and try to stay a little longer. And you should plan for it also!

Surrey Fusion Festival 2019 - Part Two- The Food!

As much as we love all kinds of music, and appreciate dancing and other types of culture, we really came for the food.
We arrived hungry, purchased $40 of tickets (not keen on this system but I suppose it discourages the underground economy) and sought prey. My personal plan was to find food that we rarely or never get to have. So we skipped a few stalls with Indian, and Chinese food etc (We love that food. It wasn't easy to pass by.) and arrived at a Nigerian booth run by the folks from Alebi Restaurant in Whalley.
We had Jollof Rice and Fried Plantains. The rice was fairly spicy right off the bat while the hot sauce on the side added to the warmth. The plantains were rich and sweet. Wonderful! Having staved off imminent low blood sugar lightheadedness we cruised the three large alleys of booths looking for our next treat.
Having missed the Paraguayan booth at the Festival del Sol, we were happy to see a chance again to try their native fare. A beef empanada was excellent as was Chipa Guaza, a corn, cheese and egg bread that was spectacular! Further wandering ensued during which time we enjoyed First Nations dancers in the Indigenous Village.
Pupusa from El Salvador was next. At this booth, they offered a number of typical Latin American foods but each with an interesting twist such as tamales cooked in banana leaf instead of corn husk as we are perhaps more used to seeing.
 All of these interesting things are well and good but when my Filipina partner craves steamed rice, nothing else will do.
So our next stop was a visit to the old country for pork barbeque skewers and rice! These were pretty good!
And finally dessert was Tiramisu from Italy. Not a bad way to finish our eating adventure. All in all for $40, we tried a lot of things. Sadly however, we barely scratched the surface with so many other things that we wanted to taste! We'll be back next year for sure!

Surrey Fusion Festival 2019 - Part One - Go Today!

The Surrey Fusion Festival is kind of a big deal and it should be attended by everyone! There are 50 countries represented here displaying their music, dance, culture, crafts and of course, their food!
Seven stages scattered throughout Holland Park almost continuously provide displays of music and dance from Flamenco to African rhythms to the Canadian Indigenous peoples music and dance and even a cooking stage. 
Marie and I bore the heat of the day (bring a hat for God's sake) but into the evening the music would continue and the headliners (the bigger acts...the recording artists) would entertain the crowds and all at no cost!
A lot of the music and demonstrations were delivered on a small scale and one of the great pleasures of the festival is coming across unrenowned performers simply providing a taste of their  homelands.
The peoples of Canada's First Nations had an area set aside where we could learn a little of their  history and culture and enjoy their music and dance also.
This included a tent and area specifically telling the story of the Metis.
In addition to everything mentioned above, there are family area and kid's areas with games and demos, a zip line and all that other fun stuff.
You know of course that we're mainly here for the food but I wanted to get part one of this blog post up early just in case some one reading might be inspired to attend today (Sunday, July 21, 2019). You will be glad that you did!
By the way, take transit if you can. It is right across the street from King George Station and parking is a bit dicey!

Hot-Star Large Fried Chicken

I was pretty excited to try Hot-Star Large Fried Chicken at its location at Central At Garden City in Richmond. It was the day after their grand opening and I arrived after lunch so there was not the wait that there might have been at peak times. Still, they were busy enough and my order took at least 10 minutes to arrive. I took that as evidence that the food was freshly prepared which is certainly a good thing, and not sitting under hot lights.

Everyone comes here essentially for one thing and that is large fried chicken. I have read some whining about the fact that it is not boneless, that large flat piece of chicken, but foodies need to know that just as fat equals flavour, so also, bones equal flavour.
This is not a pounded piece of chicken but seems to be mostly butterflied to reach these proportions. It arrived hot and very crispy owing to the breading. It was tender and juicy and as I chose the spicy (one of several flavour choices) it was ever so slightly spicy. Colour me not unimpressed. At $10.49, it seemed like a decent value. On the side, I tried the Deep Fried King Oyster Mushrooms. 
These were also hot and tasty but leaned towards the greasier side. Not necessarily a bad thing but you want to be eating them right away. 
I was quite disappointed with the Korean style wings. They were sweet and flavourful enough but I felt like $8.49 for 5 was a tad expensive ($1.70 per section). Yes are used to paying a few bucks for KFC but I kind of expect more for my money. 
Finally, the Taro Buns were decent enough. They have a couple of other flavours of these sweet odd-looking creatures but you are not able to mix and match. $2.99 for three.
I also had an overpriced beverage.  This Lime Mojito at $5.49 (virgin obviously) tasted a little like a mix although there were actually basil leaves and lime in the glass. Refreshing at least.
It's kind of a nice little fast food place. Its bright and comfortable enough and the staff are friendly. I just kind of felt like I would have been happier taking a little more time and eating at Memory Corner or Uncle Liu's or some other Taiwanese style restaurant. I wouldn't even mind if my fried chicken was smaller. 
For what its worth, we give Hot-Star Large Fried Chicken 3 out of 5.
Hot-Star Large Fried Chicken Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hapag Ihaw-Ihaw

Whoever is responsible for creating the's "Never Heard Of It" list most certainly spent a lot of time on Victoria Drive between 33rd and 41st. In that short walk-able stretch there are fully 5 restaurants from the list! So is this a good place to open an eatery? I would think that most restaurateurs would want their places to be heard of whereas this is clearly some sort of Bermuda triangle for kitchens. On the other hand, I found myself suspiciously eyeing other joints and wondering if they too were not hiding wonderful treats that needed to be heard of! That certainly was true of Hapag Ihaw-Ihaw.
I always feel like this blog should do more to promote the Filipino Community and Filipino restaurants. Not that we have so much influence but since at least one of us is an expert, we should put that to good use!
We arrived hungry which is always a good plan if you are eating Filipino food. We started with 4 skewers 2 of pork intestine and 2 of  barbeque. Their barbeque is traditionally on the sweet side. The intestines were surprisingly crispy which made us think that they had been deep fried before or after grilling? It was a great way to overcome those hunger pangs.
We had one combo meal which is a very good deal at $7.50. Of the options, we chose Chicken Inasal  which is marinated and grilled boneless chicken thigh. This was an incredibly tender piece of chicken and very tasty but missing where the tell tale grill marks....hmm. It came with rice and a bit of a salad from which I removed a fairly brown piece of lettuce. This happens sometimes and its not a federal affair.
I always love Crispy Pata, marinated and deep fried pork hock with a vinegar dipping sauce. This one was exceptionally good with very crispy skin and a large amount of surprisingly lean and flavourful meat. This was the medium size (they were out of small) at $16 which is a good price. A lot of people could share this and we did have quite a bit left over to take home.
Another Filipino classic dish is Sisig. This dish arrived so hot that it was actually spitting at me! Pork jowl seasoned with vinegar, calamansi and chilis, onions garlic and chicken liver, all grilled and served on a hot platter. Again this was an excellent version (again, we had quite a bit left over)!
We had a side salad (yes, they do have vegetables on the menu) that was very good. Roasted smokey eggplant with tomatoes and onions, a salt preserved egg and shrimp paste on the side. I admit that even now, I still find some Filipino flavours challenging (including shrimp paste) but this was a delicious mix and the shrimp paste in small amounts lent a salty oceany salty flavour that was very enjoyable.
Hapag Ihaw-Ihaw is a small restaurant. At 24-26 seats (?) it was full by noon on Saturday with people waiting outside. Simple and comfortable enough, and decorated with the lovely art of Filipino - Canadian artist, Raymon V. Maliwat.
Everyone was very hospitable and the service was efficient. The food was very good and though we spent close to $60 including tax and tips, we order more than normal people do and take home leftovers. Two people could get combinations and comfortably dine for $20 or $30 easily.
For what it's worth, we give Hapag Ihaw-Ihaw 4 out of 5.
Hapag Ihaw-Ihaw Filipino Grill 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...