Oz - Coquitlam

It felt like a long time since we had been for Korean food and that's not good! Oz had been on my list for a while and I knew going in that I would order too much as there were so many appealing choices on their online menu.
Located just a couple of blocks from Coquitlam Centre, we showed up mid-afternoon on Saturday and not surprisingly were seated right away.
We ordered the Pork Bone Soup which may have come with a side of steamed rice (something did). I have come to be a fan of this soup and its rich spicy broth and always order it when it is on the menu. The use of neck bones which might seem to some like they have no use but stock is the sign of great cuisine; peasant cuisine in which all parts of an animal are used and made into something great. Nothing is wasted and if you are a carnivore that should always be true. The process of carefully picking over the bones for the tasty bits of meat feels like a bit of a ritual. The soup is nicely rounded out by a few enoki mushrooms and chunks of potato. Excellent!
We always kind of crave Korean Fried Chicken and this time we ordered the sweet and spicy version. In retrospect maybe the regular would have been a better choice. The sauce kind of detracts from the crispy double fried pieces and is maybe a little too sticky and sweet. That is not a deep regret and we still enjoyed it. You can order a half portion (which this is) for only $13.50 or a whole or half and half.
The finely shredded cabbage with some variation of Thousand Islands is always one of my favourite things. This came with something but again, I'm not sure what!
Kimchi Fried Rice was next. No big surprises here as the kimchi seemed to be of good quality and the egg was nicely cooked. A comforting dish.
This was the first time that we have had Bossam. At $18 it was the most expensive thing that we ordered but look at how much pork belly there is! Served with pickled radish and slivered green onion and a spicy sauce and another sort of chilli sauce, this was amazing. I'm not sure if it was just that it was new to us but we were keen on it. I remember when I thought Korean food meant Bibimbap, and Seafood Pancake and now we are so enamoured of the dishes we have discovered since then. The pork belly was so tender and we ate it with tastes of all the sides in the same bite or in various combinations. Excellent!
This is a chic and comfortable little place with lots of warm wood. We found the service to be very good. Just so you know, we took probably half of the food home. I don't want you to think that we are gluttons!
For what its worth, we give Oz Korean Cuisine 4 out of 5.

OZ Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Off The Grid Cafe

It's nice to be back from Houston but the bar has been raised impossibly high on some things, like barbeque and Tex-Mex. Still, I have always said that it would be unlikely for us to seek out Asian food anywhere else than here, in Metro Vancouver (as the bar is impossibly high!). Some places just do somethings well and it pushes your appreciation up! I don't know if anyone here does chicken and waffles like Roscoe's in Los Angeles, but Off The Grid impressed us for sure!
I came across Off The Grid while looking at Scoutmagazine.ca's "Never Heard Of It" list. A few things have changed since then (i.e. they are on Fraser Street instead of Kingsway and while there was nothing on the menu over $8 now there is nothing on the menu over $13 ....inflation, right? That article was written in June, 2016 so not that surprising but they still have some good stuff going on. 
We ordered their Chicken and Waffles because, well, we always do! They were pretty generous with the chicken and it was excellent! Three (the menu says two) crispy yet moist inside pieces on waffles with gravy and syrup on the side. This would challenge as some of the best fried chicken that we have had in Metro Vancouver. The waffles weren't necessarily the best, however (could have been thinner, crispier, less meaty) but as the vehicle they were acceptable. We enjoyed this a great deal.
The menu gets creative beyond the main event and so we tried the Spam Waffle Sliders. Don't ask me why we tried that it just seemed out there. So the sliders themselves consisted of a fried egg in addition to the spam as well as some greens and mayo. Not bad! We still would have preferred thinner waffles and that would have made this a bit more of a handheld. The salad was well done and not just greens to colour up the plate! The wedge fries were ok too.
The dessert possibilities here all include waffles of course and we decided to try an Oreo Waffle Cup. At this point, the cafe was getting busy and the service kind of fell off the rails. I am not sure if they did not anticipate being so busy or if they just had some new people that day? Around us we were aware that our neighbours did not get what they ordered and there seemed to be confusion. Our little Waffle Cup with ice cream, Oreos and whipped cream (not too complicated) took over 30 minutes. I would not have known that except that I was keeping an eye on the paid parking and had to pump another buck into the metre. Still, the finished product was tasty enough.
We liked Off The Grid despite the little stumbles. I certainly feel like the waffles themselves should be a little more of an impressive part of the line-up. Still, its a sharp little place and they have a $5 student menu which is great for the John Oliver kids from next door. And I will do almost anything for great fried chicken!
For what it's worth, we give Off The Grid Waffles 3 1/2 out of 5.
Off The Grid Waffles Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Vegetarian at LAX?

In my eternal cheapness, I ended up with two painful layovers at LAX on my ways to and from Houston. Considering that LAX is one of the busiest airports in the country, it doesn't seem to be in too bad a shape but it could use a bit of a facelift. Anyway, I'm not actually vacationing here so it's not that important. At least my wait time allowed me to seek out some healthy food.
I was only really in one main area of the airport as all my flights were on American Airlines. Buried deep in what I would call a bit of a food court I found, Real Food Daily. Of course, the liquor and beef drew the main part of the crowd to the front of the food court seating and the healthy place in the back was a little less busy. Big surprise.
So I ordered their Original RFD Burger with the works which came with a salad. The total was about $22 USD including tax,  a full $3 more than is listed on their actual web site menu (and yes, that is comparing apples to apples). Time to update the website or people might think they are being deceived. 
It came with a house-made lentil-based patty which was frankly quite good. Anyone can throw a Beyond Meat patty on a bun (and in fact, they do offer that version at RFD) but I liked this better. The works included tempeh bacon, cashew cheese and avocado. Not bad.
The accompanying salad was more than just an afterthought with a nice variety of greens (well, this is California) and a choice of dressings. There is a decent choice of other things on the menu here including Seitan and Waffles and vegan Argentinian BBQ etc. The only thing is that my $22 USD is actually $30 CAD when I convert to the legal tender that I earn and live on. $30 is a little steep for a burger and salad even if it was pretty good. Mind you, we are in an airport so most things are a little pricey.
On my next stopover, I decided to try a vegetarian pizza from Sammy's Wood Fired Pizza and Grill.
Sure enough, they serve wood-fired pizza but this is not the 90-second pie that comes out of a 900-degree wood-burning oven. I timed my pizza at about 6 minutes in the oven. I think we are looking at a gas-burning oven with wood for a bit of smokey taste and effect.
I am not sure how they would get away with the more traditional Italian pizza oven in an airport.
Anyway, I ordered their Four Cheese Pizza for $15.50 (a damn sight less expensive than the vegan burger that I had a week ago). The four kinds of cheese were smoked Gouda, Gorgonzola, Mozzarella and Romano. The crust was pretty decent but would have been better had it gotten the 900-degree treatment. They weren't cheap with the topping either. This was pretty tasty.
Though it offers a bit of respite from the busy airport, it was busy in the dining room and space was at a premium. 
So anyway, vegetarians and vegans don't have to starve here at LAX but neither would I be inclined to make a special trip for the food.
For what it's worth, I don't know, maybe 3 1/2 out of 5 for both places?  

Real Food Daily Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Sammy's Woodfired Pizza and Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gumbo Jeaux's - Houston, Texas

I stayed Friday night out by the airport to catch a Saturday flight back to Vancouver. The main choices for eats were represented by Taco Bell, Jack in the Box and the like with a couple of exceptions. One place located in a strip mall across from my hotel was Gumbo Jeaux's.
They have a pretty varied menu of Cajun, Creole and Tex-Mex. 
I ordered the Fried Catfish plate at a little over $10 USD. The catfish was just thick enough that it fried crisp but was still moist at the centre. On a bed of rice, this was a tasty bargain and made me happy.
Throw in some pretty decent mac and cheese and I feel like I've eaten well considering I am in the airport surroundings restaurant wasteland without a car.
Casual but not uncomfortable and a little on the noisy side. The staff were friendly enough. 
Again, the menu offers a lot of choices and if they are as good as what I had then this is a bit of a hidden gem considering where we are. I actually wish I had more time to try this place out. Maybe next time I fly into Houston.
For what it's worth, I give Gumbo Jeaux's 4 out of 5.
Gumbo Jeaux's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Treebeard's - Houston , Texas

A lot of discussions went on about whether "Treebeard's" is a reference to the Lord of the Rings character and without actually having confirmed it one way or another, I am going to say yes.
This is a bit of a chain with at least 5 locations and catering. When I was researching whether I could find vegetarian choices in Houston, the name Treabeards came up. We went for lunch on Friday at the Travis Street location across from Market Square Park. It was busy with the downtown business community but they are well set up here and move quickly.
Service is cafeteria-style and your choices are many ranging from Chicken Fried something or other to Cajun, Creole and Southern dishes with a lot of classic sides.
Dave had Seafood Gumbo which was rich and had some nice chunks of seafood including gulf shrimp.
For sides, he had Red Beans and Rice with a link of sausage. I'm not sure what the sausage was exactly. It reminded me of Ukranian sausage.
Mario had the Squash casserole as he had enjoyed it on a previous visit, as well as a Ceasar Salad and the soup of the day (I think).
Myself, and finally eating vegetarian in Houston, I had a small vegan Red Beans and rice. This I rendered non-vegan by adding cheese (still vegetarian obviously). It was $3.99 for the small size roughly equivalent to a side. You can order 3 sides for $7.50 or your sides come in various quantities added on to main courses. Flexibility is a thing here for sure. For sides, I had Squash Casserole (at Mario's recommendation). It was very good with zucchini etc. and some cheese and breadcrumbs. I also had mustard greens and cornbread. All of this was tasty and reduced my overall feelings of guilt slightly over my consumption this week! (I am just kidding. I do not feel guilty about what I eat and have ceased to refer to anything as a guilty pleasure.)
This is a roomy place with seating upstairs and outside in addition to the main room. An efficient staff with a menu that can be healthy, if you choose and tasty. Noisy and friendly, if I worked downtown and ate out at lunchtime, I would be here often.
For what it's worth, I give Treebeards 4 out of 5.
Treebeards Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Whataburger Houston

So Whataburger is a Texas place. It is fast food so I was sort of meh about it but when in Rome...
The location I went to was in the Houston tunnel system which is so cool! I literally spent some time just walking here and there and then coming up to the street level to figure out where I was!
I had the regular Whataburger combo in the name of science. It came with fries and an enormous soft drink. The price was somewhere around $8 USD. 
The regular burger was not small but it was pretty dull. A nondescript bun, lettuce, onions, cheese and mustard. The beef itself was not bad with a decent char off the flat top. The fries were ok also and a lot like McDs. The impressive thing here is actually the service. Order at the counter and someone delivers your food to you (number on the table). They also deliver condiments etc. at the same time. Someone was also circulating and offering drink refills so that was nice. The menu is predictable although I noticed that they have biscuits for breakfast sandwiches. I could be tricked into that. I love biscuits.
For what its worth, I give Whataburger 2 1/2 out of 5. The extra half is for the people and service.
Whataburger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Johnson Space Center and Teotihuacan

What can you go to Houston and not do? You cannot not go to Johnson Space Center. It is a stunning experience when you see what has been done by the Nationa Aeronautics and Space Administration over the course of its history.
It turned out that this space shuttle is a moc up but the 747 underneath it, was used for the 30 years of the space shuttle program.
This is the actual control room that landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon. Amazing! I always felt sorry for Michael Collins but someone had to mind the store.
The tours take you to see one of the 3 remaining Saturn 5 rockets (they built 20 and used 17) that powered the Apollo program. Three hundred feet long!
The displays cover the past (Apollo, Space Shuttles) the present (International Space Station) and the future (Artemis). Not to mention the Mars rock which I am struggling to touch and photograph the same time. How is that we have a Mars rock, you ask? Google it!
I could literally go on for pages about this place. There are so much history and science and imagination to be explored. I paid $30 but I think I could have bought my ticket for less online. I caught a Houston transit bus from downtown that takes about an hour and drops you right at the door.
Back in Houston, we decided to try another well reported on Mexican place, called Teotihuacan. Note the nice edit on the photograph. Sheesh. It is right across the road from Pinkerton's.
They started us off with chips and salsa as usual. To my surprise again, the chips were not house-made but the salsas were great!
We tried a starter called Flameado which was basically melted Monterey Jack and crumbled chorizo that you scooped up with thicker than usual delicious tortillas.
Now I don't know if this is what you would call an authentic national dish of Mexico or even Texas but it was rich and melty and absolutely decadent. I loved it. What is more, when we couldn't finish everything, it warmed brilliantly in a microwave.
Dave had the Seafood Enchiladas. These were swimming is a sort of cheesy Mornay (and I mean swimming in the best way possible). There were scallops and shrimp and both just nicely cooked. There was just a slight taste of the ocean which was very pleasant.
The menu is quite extensive here and in the end, I just stabbed my finger at the menu. I think I ended up with a Cheese Enchilada and a steak burrito. The beef had a nice char from the flat top and some very rich beef flavour. The enchilada also was covered in a rich tasty sauce and lots of cheese. Refried pinto beans would never be my first choice but they were tasty enough and this whole plate represented comfort.
A busy place but these folks are very efficient at what they do. There were on top of refills and clearing the table and generally impressed the heck out of me. Warm, noisy, friendly and comfortable, I was happy that we chose this place.
For what its worth, I give Teotihuacan (I can barely spell it, let alone say it) Mexican Cafe, 4 out of 5.
Teotihuacan Mexican Cafe 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...