Pho Aldergrove

It's not a good time to open a restaurant but if you've been making the preparations and investing money for maybe months, you need to open on time. At least in our current situation, Pho Aldergergrove can open for take-out and delivery with minimal staff. At least they are not in the situation of having to lay off a lot of people, having not yet hired the full crew.
Across the road from Pho Seawall which only opened a couple of weeks ago, I guess this is the area to come to for Vietnamese food in Aldergrove (well I don't want to ignore Pho Tran at 264th and Fraser Hwy).
Of course, we had to try their pho. We did not get the one we ordered but to be honest, it doesn't really matter, does it? Operating as they are, they probably have somewhat limited ingredients so we are grateful that we can get their product at all. We found the broth to be comforting and flavourful. They were not cheap with the add-in stuff; sprouts, basil etc. This was some good pho.
Deep-Fried Won Tons were next. They were decent little pork filled bites and we had lots of sauces so there was no shortage of something to use as a dip.
I've never had Shrimp Paste on Sugar Cane. We decided that now was the time to try it. This was delicious. It was crispy on the outside and the sweet taste of the sugar cane just set it off nicely. It was hard not to chew the cane down to nothing.
The Spring Roll was also crispy and nicely done. It came with a couple of sauces and a nice little salad on Vermicelli. 
Finally, we had BBQ Lemongrass Chicken with Slice Pork Roll. This was supposed to come on rice but we got more vermicelli which is likely my least favourite of all possible noodles. Not a big crisis.
The pork was very nice but in all honesty, the chicken was on the dry side. Not sure why you wouldn't make this dish with dark meat. Chicken breast tends to be unforgiving and dries out quickly. Still, the nicely charred bits were tasty and again, we had lots of sauce.
They have a nice little dining room and hope we'll be able to use it soon. These are nice folks and we hope they will weather this initial storm.
For what its worth, we give Pho Aldergrove 3 1/2 out of 5

Pho Aldergrove Oriental Noodle House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mama's Dumplings and Coffee

Hidden in the industrial park behind Steveston Highway's Ironwood Plaza is Mama's Dumplings and Coffee. It has some roadside signage but if you didn't know they were there, you would go looking for them. That's a shame because they seem to be turning out some tasty eats. No doubt those employed in the area are aware and I'm guessing they are busier during the week than on the weekend when we ordered for takeout (which is all that is currently available).
I didn't really want to take pictures of food in take-out containers and I didn't want to drive our Xiao Long  Bao all the way back to Aldergrove so some creativity was called for. We brought some appropriate dishes from home with the intention of organizing one dish at a time (some came in more than one container) and photographing them. For the location, we went to the nearby Deas Island Park where we were able to grab a picnic table and keep our social distance. Other than feeling like a huge nerd (who brings their food to the park and puts it on dishes?) it was kind of an entertaining project.
So we carefully moved the aforementioned Xiao Long Bao to a steamer basket, took a picture and then munched them down in fairly short order! They were certainly decent. We have had better but under the circumstances, they were impressive. Inside was tasty soup and a nice little pork nugget. Considering the abuse they endured, the wrapping stood up well. It was neither too thick nor did we lose a lot of soup. Well done!
Next up was Deep Fried Pork and Veggies in Clay Pot. We would later agree that this was the star of the show! The soup itself was peppery and amazing with a generous amount of a clear noodle that I would have guessed were Korean sweet potato noodles (but were probably not). They had a nice chew. There were a few greens and then in a separate container came the deep-fried pork pieces. We love deep-fried morsels with just a quick dip in soup. Excellent!
Last on our "eating in the park" menu were the vegetarian dumplings. These were a little plain although they had good texture. Inside were some greens and I am not quite sure what else. It might have been small pieces of radish and onion. They came with soy sauce and malt vinegar which helped but we felt like something more impactful was necessary such as a hot sauce or chilli oil. Still, they were one of the two vegetarian offerings we tried and there were quite a few other items available.
We found ourselves getting full and decided that our other items would make the trip to Aldergrove without any negative impact. The second vegetarian dish that we tried (vegan actually), was Ma Po Tofu. Usually, this dish includes ground pork but this was a very good version without it. The highlight is the Szechuan peppercorn slightly numbing quality and I could not leave it alone until it was finished.. Perfect with rice.
Finally came Stewed Beef Noodle Soup. Again this came in multiple containers and we combined it at home to stellar results. Fatty tender beef pieces in beefy stock with some greens and noodles, another succulent dish. All in all, this turned out to be 2 meals for us at just over $50.
The dining room is a little lonely right now with chairs up waiting for when things get back to normal. In the meantime, especially if you are nearby, this is a place to support by getting your lunch or dinner to go. Check out their decently extensive menu on their website. We really enjoyed what we tried.
For what it's worth, we give Mama's Dumplings and Coffee 4 out of 5.

Mama's Dumpling & Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

But What About The Future Toilet Paper Industry?

One of my many concerns, when I see that crazy people have greedily snapped up all the toilet paper and paper towels at my local grocery stores (and the local branch of  'TP Are Us') is', what about the future of that industry and possibly thousands of workers and their families?
By the time this 'thing' is finished many will have hoarded literally thousands of rolls of toilet paper (and paper towels), enough for years to come. Many will likely have entire heavily secured climate-controlled rooms in their homes dedicated to the filing and storage of such products. And what will be the result? The near-total collapse of the disposable paper market as if Russia and Saudi Arabia were squabbling and refusing to limit production. A black market will thrive. Oh, the humanity!
And why do we feel this great need to not run out of paper? Why do we go their first in a crisis? It was pointed out to me yesterday that our first urge to hoard should be towards salty snacks and sweets, shouldn't it? I mean especially if we are relegated to personally quarantining ourselves and binging "The Valhalla Murders" on Netflix.
Evidently, the paper towel was only invented somewhere around the 1920 or1930s. Somehow people must have gotten along without it before that, just like we got along without smartphones and even microwave ovens if you can imagine that.  
There are alternatives to the madness that will allow us to get around the empty shelves. These suggestions will allow individuals to put the needs of their neighbours and even the planet ahead of their own selfish 'my survival first' attitudes.
First...paper towel.
I'm pretty sure that no one is using paper towels to wash or dry their dishes. Dishwashers, notwithstanding, sometimes we wash things in the sink with a cloth or a brush and maybe dry them with a cloth dishtowel. You probably don't use a paper towel to wash your face or dry yourself after a shower either.
So here is the closely guarded secret that 'big paper towel' has not wanted you to know: cloth can be remarkably absorbent! Cloths are perfect for wiping up spills. You can rinse them carefully and hang them to dry. You can even wash them and they will be clean to reuse! In my case, I have repurposed a few old towels that had begun to disintegrate. You can sew an edge around the pieces if you are crafty. They make wonderful gifts! And an old towel is saved from the landfill, at least for a while. I will not be buying paper towels for a long time (this kind of proves that I don't care as much about the paper towel industry as I suggest but really, pulp and paper is not a great business for the environment).
Second...toilet paper (and I apologize in advance if I say anything indelicate!)
In France, they have long known the value of a bidet. In the words of Crocodile Dundee, "For washin' your backsoyd, roight?"
Our Korean and Asian friends are famous for their luxury versions of the toilet seat which include 'personal washing'. 
In fact, it seems like many parts of the world already eschew the use of toilet paper (which is actually disgusting) for washing with water post potty.
We North Americans may be the only ones left behind on this (totally unintentional pun).
Again, my apologies as I know a toilet seat has never appeared on a blog post before. I made the switch to water years ago with a simple sprayer attachment available at Home Depot for around $60. It is easily installed. The one pictured above is a little more elaborate.
In addition to being hugely hygenic by comparison to toilet paper, the bidet or attachment is also environmentally friendly. The use of water in making toilet paper is gross, roughly 30 gallons per roll. Also, no paper to be flushed to the pipes beyond to end up who knows where.
So make some simple choices. We are not talking about committing to the metric system here (which we still seem to be working on) and actually improve your life and the life of the planet.
This current behaviour is both embarrassing and amusing. I like it better when people think of us Canadians as impossibly polite. I don't like it when we seem like selfish, silly hoarders. Let's make Canada more polite again.

Pho Seawall Hai Tuong

So Aldergrove. Not exactly the centre of the culinary universe. A couple of weeks ago, we had one place that you could get Vietnamese we have three! Two of them happen to be directly across the road from each other.
Pho Seawall - Hai Tuong is located in the space that was previously occupied by Del Pollo that I was never inclined to visit (sorry but Fraser Valley Tex-Mex is not even mildly tempting). PSHT took the time to paint and refresh the space inside and out (new signage still to come, I am guessing) and it is now pleasant and comfortable. I've been a couple of times.
Starting simply on my first visit, I tried their Pho. I found the broth to be tasty and smooth while the additions were fairly generous. Comforting and reasonably priced also.
Ordered a couple of Spring Rolls also. These were crispy and tasty. I notice that each of their plates comes with a nice salad garnish which I happily munch down being a fan of rabbit food. 
Marie and I dropped in again yesterday. Admittedly, it might be our last dine out for a while but we felt that our social distance was not compromised on this visit.
Off the appetizer menu, we ordered something that I had never heard of but that we very much enjoyed. Shaking Green Apple (which is evidently more of a bar or summer snack) is an apple with sugar, chilis and fish sauce! This was a flavour adventure that you would not expect. Although the Granny Smith was tart, this was offset by the sweet sugar, hot chilis and salty fish sauce. It was quite fish sauce forward and very tasty!
Next up was the Deep Fried Squid. The pieces of squid were crispy yet very tender. We felt like the coating could have used a little more salt but the problem was solved by a sweet chilli sauce for dipping.
Finally, we had Shredded Pork and Quiche on Rice. The Pork was an interesting mix of shredded pork and shredded pork skin which was delicate and light. The quiche part surprised me but remember from history class how France had occupied Vietnam for somewhere around 100 years? This was meatier than I usually expect from something called quiche but definitely tasty. This dish was served with green salad and soup.
As of today (or yesterday), Pho Seawall will be limited to take out and delivery (Covid19 concerns if you are reading this review decades in the future) for a while. It was tough timing for opening a restaurant but we still have to eat and it's nice to have someone else prepare tasty food for us even if we have to eat it at home for a while.
For what its worth, we give Pho Seawall Hai Tuong 3 1/2 out of 5.

Pho Seawall - Hai Tuong  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Smoking Pig Restaurant

Sometimes we go to restaurants recommended by other bloggers and sometimes we try restaurants recommended by food web sites like Other times we try to get to places recommended by David Chang, the late great Anthony Bourdain or Guy Fieri. And sometimes I just see places on Google maps that catch my eye! Such was the case with the Smoking Pig Restaurant which I just could not pass by without investigating further. While I'm trying to focus more on the plant-based places that will benefit our health and the planet, I am not yet a total purist.
SP is not an impressive store with a waterfront view and chandeliers but it was homey enough inside. We arrived on Sunday just after noon and the place was soon hopping busy. It turns out ramen is the main deal here. Both the noodles (as you can see by the front window) and the stock are made in house. 
We tried the basic ramen. It came with a slice of smoked pork, chashu style, a nicely soft boiled egg as well as some greens and green onion. It was very rich and very nicely flavoured.
More impressive still was the Perilla Ramen which we had never seen on a menu before. Perilla is a herb belonging to the mint family although it does not taste minty. In the case of the ramen, perilla refers to the ground seeds like you might find on your Korean Pork Bone Soup. It looks a little like a good dusting of pepper but adds more of a nutty earthy flavour. A nice creative addition. The soups were the same otherwise but we found this one tastier.
On the side, we had their fried dumplings. These were actually pretty close to solid meat inside and we thought a little vegetable matter might not have been amiss although they were tasty. Served with a sort of sweet-spicy Thai sauce.
We ordered the smoked pork side dish which we realised was the same as the pork in the ramen. Served with absolutely necessary kimchi, this was amazing but super-rich ( I try not to use superlatives. I don't want to sound like Trump but in this case...).
Comfortable enough inside and complete with an Everlast heavy bag (marked for punching only and not climbing on) which  I assume is for staff to take out their frustrations. I don't think customers will find themselves needing to vent. Oh btw, there is a kimchi bar (more of a fridge actually) where you can get a plate ($5.00?) and chose your kimchi. Nice!
We give The Smoking Pig Restaurant 3 1/2 out of 5.

Smoking Pig Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kind Cafe

Kind Cafe is frankly, a little bit remarkable. They are fully vegan with a creative menu that incorporates house-made cheeses (not the dairy kind obviously) and other tasty stuff. Even more impressive is the whole zero waste thing.
Located on Main near 15th, KC is airy and bright with seating for maybe for 4 dozen people (?) some at communal tables. You will notice right away the absence of paper napkins, to-go cups and other throw away stuff. It means that someone is making just a little more effort when it comes to washing up but it is for the good of the planet. Thank you KC!
We started with a smoothy, something I generally avoid unless I'm making it at home. This was too interesting to pass up though. Activated charcoal is the first ingredient and I suppose its real value is as the vegan equivalent of squid ink for pasta. I'm not inclined to believe that it is valuable or necessary as something that removes toxins from your blood. It is kind of cool to be eating or drinking something completely black though. The flavour was from peanut butter and banana which was delightful but it included zucchini and maple syrup. It was very nice!
Next up was the Buffalo Tofu Sandwich. Not surprisingly, the main ingredient was tofu in their version of Buffalo hot sauce but it also included a tasty spicy slaw, their kind'a ranch and very good focaccia. A decent tasty sandwich.
Also pretty good was the BBQ Tempeh Flatbread. Although I've had tempeh before, I was surprised that it is an Indonesian fermented soybean product. It provides a nice little crunch, almost bacony (sorry) in texture. House cheese, pineapple, cilantro and barbeque sauce which we found to be just a bit too strong in flavour. Still not bad overall.
We ordered Potato Salad on the side of something which has an easier time being vegan than the other items (no egg obviously) but we enjoyed it just for what it was, with mustard seeds and green onion providing some nice texture.
This is a very pleasant room with high windows and a mezzanine. The staff were very nice also. The web site mentions management's holistic nutrition qualifications. I bristle at the mention of the term 'holistic' and what it has come to represent because, and real medicine. I wish that vegetarian and vegan diets and their benefits to the planet and its humans did not dwell soo closely to woo. Never-the-less, we give Kind Cafe and Eatery 4 1/2 out of 5 stars for their food and their conscience!
Kind Cafe & Eatery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hannosuke Tempura Tendon Tokyo

It's not often that we are willing to get in line for a place just because it is new and buzzing. Within a few short weeks, the lines will be gone (unless you happen to be Ramen Danbo) and you can dine in at your leisure. We are just fans enough of tempura that we would consider the standing around outside thing as acceptable. And, we didn't even wait for that long!
On Robson, near Denman, we waited maybe 15 minutes at the most (these people are organized) before getting a seat in this noisy friendly place. There s seating for maybe 36 people? The menu is pretty brief. You are here for one thing and that is tempura ....and rice.
There are, importantly, instructions on the table about how to eat this (thank goodness because I might still be there and so hungry or injure myself!) with tips about how to use the spicy pepper etc.
We ordered one premium and one special tempura bowl. The prices were $16 and $19 dollars each and the difference was conger eel or not (there is also a kids bowl for $9). Each bowl was rice with Special Hannosuke Sauce (soy with something a little sweet), tempura shrimp, green beans, seaweed etc and a tempura egg (impressive). 
Just the epitome of comfort food. It wasn't ridiculously crispy or anything. I'm not sure what I expected. It was crispy of course because it is deep fried with a panko crust but it was more of a fatty comforting coating than a french fry type crispy thing. A totally inadequate description that ensures that you will have to go try it for yourself! The white fish was excellent, the eel also and the shrimp maintained some snap. There were a couple of green beans in there also. A very tasty bowl!
I would do this anytime. They were such nice people too! You can watch the cooks ply their trade but I found myself n the way when I tried. The line doesn't last long so don't be daunted.
For what its worth, we give Hannosuke Tempura Tendon Tokyo, 4 out of 5.

Kaneko Hannosuke Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

C Market Coffee Roastery & Kitchen

I am a fan of Vanfoodster events and challenges. Marie and I already have our tickets for the upcoming Scavenger Hunt which should be good fun. We enjoy the challenges because they have led us to places that we would not necessarily have known about otherwise (I must confess that we have never actually visited all the restaurant's in a single challenge) and such was the case with C Market Coffee Roastery and Kitchen just off Lougheed Hwy in Coquitlam.
The first thing you notice about CMR is that they do take their coffee seriously and it is evident in the final product. They roast beans in house a couple of times a week and I assume grind upon demand.
The result was a good cup of dark roasted coffee with rich flavour and none of the acidity that sometimes takes the joy out of it. I am not a bearded hipster coffee expert as you can guess by my description but I do enjoy my Starbucks dark roast black and steer clear of Tim Hortons as best I can. That should be enough said about that.
In case you have been wondering, we came to CMR for the Chicken and Waffles Challenge but we wanted to try a couple of other things too. We started with the Vegan Bulgogi Wrap. I can tell you that the protein involved here was tofu and the wrap was a spinach tortilla. Beyond that, deconstruction revealed a tasty mix of rice, carrots, and other shredded items with a bulgogi sauce. Not too bad!
Staying with the vegetarian theme (so far) we tried their Avocado Benny. This was nicely presented with some decent fried potatoes, fruit and pickles. Topped with a perfectly poached egg and buttery hollandaise, the avocado and tomato beneath were also of good quality and tasty. However, the whole concept of a benny that is both warm and cold did not bring a tear to my eye. I would have preferred the ingredients separately (in fact, we did eat it that way). Isn't a benny more typically all warm ingredients?
Finally, there was the above-mentioned Ramen Crusted Chicken and Waffles. Here the concept caught my imagination and indeed the coating which involved ground up ramen noodles was crisp and tasted good. The piece of chicken breast was either pounded or sliced thin making it reminiscent of the Hot Star or J&G type chicken that is so popular now. Unfortunately, and I couldn't tell you if this will always be the case, it tended toward stringiness. Not sure what to tell you about that. It did not cut or pull apart nicely and felt maybe overcooked. And as usual, I was not enamoured of the waffles (is it possible that I just don't care for waffles?). Served with cinnamon-scented syrup, honey-mustard sauce, spicy tartar and more potatoes, pickles and salad, this was again a nicely composed offering. It just didn't blow us away.
C Market is a sharp, nicely decorated space with mostly friendly staff (except for one person who chose not to make eye contact). Go for the coffee. There are a lot of other choices on the menu and some weekly 'events' (a wine tasting evening) that might be fun.
For what its worth, we give C Market Roastery and Kitchen, 3 out of 5.

C Market Coffee Roastery and Kitchen 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...