Boiling Point - Guildford

Fall has arrived and we are down for soup. Of all the soups available on the Vancouver food scene, we are ramen fanatics of course but we have a love for pho and chowders and bisques and all varieties of broths and pottages too numerous to mention, representing probably every cuisine on earth. Despite that, Marie and I don't seem to have a tremendous track record with another Vancouver staple, hot pot. Maybe back to basics are in order.
The type of hot pot served at Boiling Point is of the no-nonsense, everything arrives in your bowl type, and the server lights a burner allowing your soup to happily bubble away. Purists would probably be aghast that we would allow others to assemble and cook our hot pot but initially, it seemed like a good idea to us.
Most lunch hot pots are within the $15 to $19 range and are available with add ons and sides as a combo. We each tried a side at $5. First up was Spicy Cumin Lamb which was tender and tasty and had just a bit of a spicy bite. The meat did not seem to have any kind of grill treatment which might have perked things up a bit. 
Next up was Garlic Pork Belly looking remarkably like bacon without the crispy. Again tasty due to the sauce. The sauces available are definitely a strong point at BP. Texturally both of these appetizers left a little to be desired.
I had the Tonkatsu Miso for my hot pot. It was a nice mix of unimpressive chasu (this is not a ramen shop), a couple of shrimp and tasty broth. The highlight for me was tofu skin and a nice selection of mushrooms. Like all of their hot pots, you can choose your level of spicy. Served with a bowl of rice (or noodles), I rescued my shrimp from the broth by moving them to the rice. It seemed like this was probably what was intended for all the ingredients to prevent us from burning our mouths!
Marie had the House Special which also featured quite a variety of ingredients. We didn't expect a lot of any one thing but in total, there was a lot of food in both of these pots! Read the list of ingredients on the menu carefully. If you are not a big fan of pork intestines know that a little goes a long way. We had leftovers that we took home but reheating the soup with the intestines seemed to increase the flavor considerably.
Each hot pot comes with the previously mentioned rice and complimentary tea (at least at lunchtime). If you can figure it out, the tea glass gives the history of BP. 
Its a nice little restaurant with a bunch of tables for two and a few places for larger groups. They seemed to remain busy all of the time we were there (Sunday afternoon). The staff were friendly enough but maybe a little run off their feet. The most important thing is that they seemed sure-handed carrying the hot soup and burners.
For what its worth, we give Boiling Point 2 1/2 out of 5 and next time will try a more traditional hot pot joint.

Boiling Point Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Taj Indian Cuisine and Sweets

Recently we lost longtime Aldergrove restaurant, Manisha Sweets, dropping our local count to one Indian restaurant (Oh, I know every take out pizza place also sells butter chicken) namely the recently opened and frankly pretty good, Aldergrove Indian Bistro. Now that number skyrockets back to two as Taj Indian Cuisine and Sweets has opened just off Fraser Highway in the middle of town.
We decided to give Taj a try about a week after their opening on a Saturday evening. To our surprise, the dining room will not be open until Oct 5. No problem! We've had Indian take out many times! 
So we ordered Chaat Papri. It came with a nice sprinkling of pomegranate. It was a bit of a homogenous mix so that the crispy flakes had lost some of their crispiness. I'm not sure if that's a symptom of take out or if that is just their recipe. It was tasty enough and I would try in their dining room.
Definitely suffering from the take out effect was the Fish Pakora. These had huge potential as they were meaty and tasty and the chutney on the side was very good. Again, they were decent even after we got them home but I would love to try them directly from the fryer to table!
Now Goat Biryani is a dish that can stand up to take out. This dish had a nice bite of heat (we ordered it that way) with a generous amount of not too bony, tasty goat. Nice!
The girls (Marie and her grandaughter) both insist on Butter Chicken. To be honest with you, I have had enough. There are too many other amazing Indian dishes to try. I am going to try making butter chicken myself (not exactly rocket surgery) to allow for ordering other things at Indian restaurants. We all agreed that this was a little too sweet. At least there was a decent amount of chicken.
Though the dining room is not yet open, it looks comfortable enough and I assume there will be something on the walls by the time they are open. Make sure that you are not seated by the washrooms! The folks here are friendly enough and should do ok in this competitive Aldergrove market (making a bit of an Aldergrove joke here!).
For what it's worth, we give Taj 3 out of 5.
Taj Indian Cuisine and Sweets Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


It seems that none of the 'sandwiches' entered in the Vanfoodster Sandwich Challenge are really sandwiches in the traditional sense of the word. That is both good and bad (mostly good).  It means everyone out there is being creative and looking for ways to wow us. The only downside is that I really like sandwiches! Of course, I can get a sandwich anytime or make one at home for that matter!
Sprezzatura (studied nonchalance) is a new kid on a new block. On Kingsway, very close to East Broadway, the signage does not really hit you in the face and you kind of need to know its there.... fortunately, we did. Arriving unfashionably early as we always do, we were comfortably seated right away. This is a beautiful yet casual space where you could spend quality time with friends.
Marie and I had her grandaughter Juelle with us. Since it turns out there is a children's menu, she kind of high jacked the ordering on me, but that turned out to be a good thing! It allowed us to try a couple of smaller versions of different things on the menu (kids get full fast!)
So Juelle likes Pepperoni Pizza. Sprezzatura turns out the 90 seconds in the 900-degree oven type of pizza that we love. The house-made Napoletana type dough was wonderful as was the sauce which was closer to crushed tomatoes than what I would call sauce. The not overly heavy ratio of toppings makes it a pizza to be appreciated and I would return here just for their pies alone.
I beleive the child's size Macaroni and Cheese was also just a smaller version of the main menu item with provolone, gruyere and white cheddar. Made with Cavatappi which is clearly the pasta champion for macaroni and cheese, Juelle and I agreed that the crispy bits on the top were excellent!
We ordered a salad to counter the carbs and the Farro and Cannelini Salad turned out to be a sublime choice. I like salads generally but I became obsessive over this one! Each forkful brought up a different combination of greens (frisee, arugula), just roasted veggies (carrot, eggplant, onions), beans, pumpkin seeds, parmesan and a dressing which was so unimposing that I barely remember it. Legendary for a salad!
Finally came the Vanfoodster's Sandwich Challenge entry (off the main menu), the Meatball Panouzzo. This "sandwich" was made on a Napoletana pizza dough 'bun'.
Less of a bread experience, we got to enjoy again the fruits of their dough making labours and the pizza oven. There was a bit of spiciness here in the form of chili mayo along with arugula, fior di latte, and Parmigiano not to mention tasty, meaty and satisfying meatballs.
Again, I want to draw your attention to this comfortable lovely space. For us it is generally about the food and I would eat in a phone booth for a great meal but a beautiful room is a bonus. The staff are very friendly and accommodating here!
For what it's worth, we give Sprezzatura 4 1/2 out of 5.

Sprezzatura Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Food By Fanta at BCD Academy and Vanfoodster's Sandwich Challenge

Though I have a poor record when it comes to participating in Vanfoodster's food challenges (they ran out, they're closed, they served us something different, we didn't read properly), here we are again! The Sandwich Challenge is a perfect challenge for us as there are only four participants and we have never been to any of the places (we love trying new places)! We started with Food by Fanta at BCD Academy. BCD is the cooking school of Parinya Lopston, owner of Langley perennial favourite, Ban Chok Dee Restaurant.
Well hidden behind the sign for the now-defunct "My Thai" restaurant in what is more or less a small business mall on Fraser Highway, make sure you have the street address and don't be afraid to go looking. Rumour has it that they will soon be opening a full restaurant adjacent at which time signage problems will presumably disappear. 
So we started with the challenge entry "Trans-Atlantic Sandwich". We noticed that what we were served did not match the photo we had seen but apparently a couple of details have been changed to make it better! The original bagel was deemed a little too heavy and was replaced by an in-house-made bun (almost a croissant but crispier? ) which was excellent all by itself! Topped with tasty Thai sauced shrimp, avocado, a spectacular puree of red onion (I mean that was an interesting and wonderful puree), microgreens, edible flowers etc., this was an impressive sandwich. The amuse-bouche served on the side was more of a chicken spring roll which was nice enough.
And speaking of amuse-bouche (I have now used the term twice in one post after never having used it in this space before), we were served one at the very beginning of this meal. A prawn cracker with some tuna in house-made mayo and a few house-grown microgreens. Very nice!
Since souffle pancakes have suddenly become all the rage, we decided to try their Creme Brulee Souffle Pancakes. Neither of us are pancake fanatics but these were pretty amazing. Light and pillowy and served with fresh fruit and a sweetish cream sauce. The creme brulee topping was not creme brulee crispy as we had hoped but it was tasty just the same.
Finally, we had the Grilled Cheese Chicken Waffle. How could you see that on a menu and not try it? The chicken was boneless thighs in a house-made barbeque type sauce. Not too crispy or spicy, the chicken was very tender. The waffles were decent also with cheddar between a stack of two. All in all, a very nice treat.
The space is elaborately decorated yet very comfortable but I'm not sure why they need 4 big TVs on the walls. Service was excellent as was the coffee. I believe that it would be fun to come and take one of their classes. Information is readily available about classes on their web site.
For what our opinion is worth, we give Food By Fanta and the challenge sandwich, 4 out of 5.

Food By Fanta at BCD Academy  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saravanaa Bhavan

While perusing the Daily Hive, just the other day, I happened across the article, "Where to find the best Indian food in Vancouver." While most of the places listed are familiar enough, I was struck by the exotic-sounding "Saravana Bhavan" (missing the final 'a' in Saravanaa) located in Delta. Always on the hunt for dosa and learning that this was a south Indian restaurant, we set our sites on Nordel Way and 120th.
We were intending to order a la carte and really didn't even know that they offered a lunch buffet (neither their web site nor the DH gave us a clue as to this so maybe its a new thing?). We also didn't realize that we were in a vegetarian restaurant but that was just because of not paying attention. Look closely at the photo of the front of the restaurant!
The weekend lunch buffet is $15.99 compared to $24.99 just down the block at Tandoori Flame (bear in mind that TF offers many choices for the carnivore...and is huge). The buffet is not long here but there are different choices on each side and roving servers bring you dosas and puri (and dosa is what we were craving, to begin with).
While a buffet offers the advantages of giving you the opportunity of trying small tastes (or large) of many things, it has the disadvantage of my plate being not as pretty when I arrange it myself! We tried the idli and vada with sambar and coconut chutney as we almost always do. These were all tasty but the idli didn't profit from waiting for us in a steamer. Even the chutney was maybe a buffet level below what we have tasted in other south Indian places in the area. The chana was good and the bisibelabath (a spicy rice dish with lentils and vegetables) was very tasty. 
The process with dosa is that someone is making them fresh in the kitchen and then they are delivered to diners by one of the servers. In the meantime, we took some potato masala and mushroom masala on our trays to eat with our dosa. The dosas were crispy and fresh and made us happy but again, not as pretty as when they come on a plate from the kitchen. Still, this was worth the price of admission.
Marie and I made one more visit to the buffet to try some desserts. I love these metal trays by the way and I want some for home (just kidding on the last part). These were all tasty and to my palette, not quite as overpoweringly sweet as the north Indian sweets that we sometimes have. Mostly made up of rice and fruits and nuts in various arrangements and even one was made with cream of wheat! BTW, I am aware that Indian cuisine is a little more than just north and south but for purposes of simplicity...
Like many Indian restaurants, this one is elaborately decorated with giant chandeliers and is very comfortable. All of the staff were friendly and helpful, ready to lend explanations at the buffet. It turns out that there are many locations of SB all over the world. It is the world's largest Indian vegetarian restaurant chain!
For what it's worth, we give Saravanaa Bhavan 3 1/2 out of 5.
Saravanaa Bhavan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hi Five Chicken

I don't want the search for great fried chicken ever to end or reach the point where we have an absolute winner. In the name of research, I want to continue always to get mt fingers greasy without guilt or remorse (which are essentially, the same thing).
Hi Five has 2 24 hour locations and we went to the one on 10th Avenue in Burnaby. It's hard not to compare this place right off the bat to Church's but there are some differences as we will see.
We started with a couple of their more unique sides (shame on me for not thinking to try their coleslaw or other salads) namely, poppers (3 on the right) and Mac and Cheese Wedges (5 on the left). The mac and cheese deals were actually not too bad! Cheesy and crispy at the same time! They advertise these as being 'vegetarian' which is kind of cute and technically true. The poppers were less thrilling being not spicy at all and filled with a cream cheese concoction that did not leave us wanting more.
Fried chicken, of course, is the main event and frankly, this was very good. We tried the regular and spicy. The spicy was not spicy (they could do with a bottle of hot sauce out on the counter) but they were both very juicy and crisp on the outside. This was what led us to the Church's comparison. The potato wedges were not bad either.
The baked chicken (they should call it roasted) is what makes Hi Five a little bit unique. This was also very good. Not dry and the skin, while not being crispy(obviously) was very flavourful. They use a honey mustard type of sauce which had some zing. Colour us impressed.
So we kind of liked this place. The food is decent including the baked option. There is the whole 24-hour thing should you be craving at 4 am or coming home from God knows where with the munchies. There is fast-food seating for about 8 to 10 people inside as well as some tables and chairs outside. The staff are friendly enough and our order did not take too long.
For what its worth, we give Hi Five Chicken 3 out of 5.
Hi Five 24 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Taste of Africa

Once again we found ourselves braving the wilds of Whalley to find a place listed on's "Never Heard Of It" list. While we had the list as motivation, at some point also, I  had become convinced that Jollof Rice is a great thing (I am still convinced) that should be sought out wherever it could be found!
The Taste of Africa is located right on King George, not far from 108th. I was somewhat nervous about parking my car where I could not see it (grow up, Mike) but all was well. This is not only a small restaurant with take-out available but also an African ingredients grocery store. It is a very casual place but not uncomfortable. Seating about a dozen people, the couple that runs the place were kept busy by members of the local African and non-African community alike while we were there.
A number of familiar and unfamiliar dishes are offered in combinations. Marie had Baked Tilapia with the aforementioned Jollof Rice. She easily reduced this fish to a pile of bones. It was nicely cooked with a spice mix on the skin that I could not possibly identify. It was not spicy but savory and maybe just a little bit sweet. Delicious! The accompanying rice was as advertised, tomatoey, a little spicy and rich and comforting. The little taste of coleslaw on the side was a pleasant surprise and offset the spicy part nicely.
We also tried Okro (not okra, even though I kept saying okra) stew. This was also delicious but a little challenging to my uneducated palate. It does have okra as one of the main ingredients as the name suggests and as does the texture (slightly viscous). This version of the stew has beef (although I would have guessed goat owing to the bony pieces). It was spicy enough to make me sweat if I didn't spell off with bites of rice. It also contained the ingredient fish powder (didn't know there was such a thing) which lent its own taste to this complex stew. It was interesting and enjoyable but needs a little getting used to just like dishes with fish sauce that we have learned to love.
The side here was Rice and Beans, another comforting dish reminiscent of the Jamaican and even Creole versions that we are more familiar with.
Fried plantains rounded out our meal. These were sweet and rich. All in all, this was a satisfying and interesting meal. We felt like we were able to expand our culinary horizons, just a little bit. We also enjoyed our friendly hosts and a little taste of the culture that surrounded us.
For what its worth, we give Taste of Africa 3 1/2 out of 5.
The Taste Of Africa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Jamjar - Commercial Drive

Marie and I are dedicated transit users. Not during the week so much because we live out in the Valley where I am close to work and Marie works late evenings when there is no service. On the weekends though, when we treck into town (which we often do), we generally park at Scott Road Station and use skytrain and buses. Adding another vehicle to the congestion and parking mayhem of Vancouver doesn't help the planet or my stress level, so we put up with the occasional inconvenience and let someone else drive. It also helps my walking game. The biggest single component of my fitness program these days is walking 10km a day, which I do religiously (I used to run and even ran a few marathons but I have a few joints which will no longer tolerate the pounding). My point in all of this is that sometimes, proximity to transit is a large contributing factor when it comes to lunch! Such was the case with Jamjar (loving Lebanese food is, of course, the second big factor), which is very conveniently located just a few steps from Broadway/Commercial Station.
Arriving just before 1:00 on Saturday, we did not have to wait for a table but were seated right away. The menu is not as confusing as it first appears. All you need to do is follow directions. When we did, we ordered Falafel as a mezze to start.
These were brilliant. Crispy on the outside and light but substantial on the inside. One of my favourite healthy, with a tiny touch of non-healthy, treats. Chickpeas, parsley, garlic, etc., made into balls and deep-fried and served with a sort of tahini yogurt sauce (don't quote me on the sauce)!
Falafel is one of those things that I could live on in good conscience and reasonable health. We wouldn't have complained about a little more sauce.
Again, carefully following the menu instructions, we ordered a Makali Bowl. The makali is the deep-fried cauliflower with pomegranate molasses. Also as crispy as you can expect cauliflower to be, the molasses was an amazing addition being sweet and tart with a citrusy finish. Loved this and again our consciences did not trouble us! As a bowl, (you can order anything as a mezze, a wrap or a bowl), your main can be served over brown rice or cabbage (more of a slaw) or a combination. You also get to choose one cold mezze and for this plate, we chose a smokey eggplant dip called muttabel. Everyone needs to try this! it was creamy and smokey and wonderful!
For a second bowl, we ordered their Shish Tawouk, chicken thighs marinated in yogurt, oregano, garlic, and lemon and then grilled. This was tasty enough also but a bit less of a thrill than the previous items. I am sorry that we chose to wander off the vegetarian trail when there were other interesting items to be tried. Certainly, the labneh, which we chose as a cold mezze, was a highlight here and came with a generous splash of very good olive oil.
We have come to love places that cook with conscience. Jamjar uses local ingredients as much as possible and offers several vegan options. Even the name Jamjar is an indicator of community and hospitality.  This is a very nice space and comfortable with friendly folks.
For what it's worth, we give Jamjar 4 1/2 out of 5.
Jamjar 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...