Sumerian Grill

For eats that travel well and remain delicious (take out) but are a little difficult to pose (make look pretty), try Middle Eastern food. At Sumerian Grill, we found more melty cheese than I expected, which does not transfer from take-out container to plate very well but is solidly in our most tasty food category. We also enjoyed delightful salads and dips and amazing hot from the oven bread but you may not be impressed with my 'staging'.
Located in the not most impressive part of Whalley (although admittedly, we visit a lot of restaurants in this area which have provided uniquely tasty cuisine from Africa, Mexico, the Caribbean and Korea so far), the Sumerian Grill offers mainly Turkish and Iraqi cuisine mostly cooked at literally 1000 degrees in their brick oven imported from Turkey.
The chewy puffy amazing bread produced by the 'pitmaster' is lavash and should not be missed. Watching to the man at work was the most interesting thing I have seen in a while as he moved dishes and bread around, gaging the heat.
Back home we dug into the appetizer plate with our bread. The baba ghanoush was amazing and smokey. A more coarse eggplant mixture than we have had before (maybe a regional thing) but that was a positive. Also on the plate was humous, and Tzatziki with some excellent green olives.
Three salads were a part of the appetizers (called Mixed Plate on their menu). There was a pretty standard green salad, what we think was pickled cabbage and what turned out to be a carrot salad ( I was convinced that it was squash or sweet potato). The carrot salad as excellent and rich with mayo. This was not a crunchy salad but a cooked arrangement though served cold.
Next up was Lahmajun, a treat that we only discovered a few months ago when visiting the little cafe of the same name (slightly different spelling) in east Richmond. It is a thin crust with a ground meat topping. No cheese on this one but the ground meat topping was helped along by some onions and such and a tomato type base. The inappropriate coriander garnish is mine (should have been mint maybe?). Tasty.
This Shephard's Guveche was a treat, partly because I had never heard of such a thing and partly because of it was a delightful combination of beef, cheese, eggplant mushrooms and zucchini which was warm and comforting! It doesn't usually come round to the table but you've seen how take out containers are shaped, right?
Finally, and probably a staple of Turkey and the Middle East, in general, were some kebab and basmati rice! We did find the lamb and beef (one kebab of each) to be a little tough but it was nicely charred and tasty. The total for this feast was $60 but frankly, as usual, it was more than 2 meals for the 2 of us.
And so is the latest in my series of lonely dining rooms that will hopefully be half busy before too long and maybe still busier eventually.
For what its worth, we give Sumerian Grill 3 1/2 out of 5.

Sumerian Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tofun Fusion Hotpot

I'm still having trouble figuring out which restaurants are open for takeout. I have tried using the Yelp maps but unfortunately, circumstances are changing quickly for restaurants and its hard for Yelp to keep up. There is a new website called Breaking Bread which is going to try maintaining a current list but so far they are quite limited out in the Valley.
Also, I have heard it said more than once that it is much better for the restaurants if we go and pick up ourselves instead of using one of the delivery services. So get your ass off the couch and go pick up your takeout food! Call it exercise and feel good about yourself! So we found out that Tofun Fusion Hotpot in White Rock is doing takeout.
Located in the same strip mall as Rona at King George and 148th, it is a Korean leaning fusion restaurant. They are well set up for the take out process. We phoned in our order and it was delivered to us near the front door where we also paid in the touchless debit manner.
Hot Pot would seem to be the main event here so we decided to try their Kimchi Tofu Pot. There was a decent amount of squid and tofu and it was mildly spicy. Also making its appearance were some tasty sliced pork and a mussel which was not too bad. It was a comforting and relatively filling bowl which would make a good single-dish meal.
They have Korean Fried Chicken on the menu also. We ordered original with hot sauce on the side. It was very tasty but this is one of those right out of the fryer is best dishes. If you live nearby then go for it. For us, the voyage to Aldergrove left them a little less crispy but they were tasty enough just the same.
I love Seafood Pancake. This one was ok but not the best ever. Once again, it might have been better straight out of the kitchen. Cut up into squares to fit in the to-go box, I was unable to assemble it into a nice round pancake. They weren't cheap on the seafood and the accompanying dip worked.
I usually avoid the Cheesy Corn type dishes on Korean menus because to me, there is nothing particularly Korean about it. It is corn and cheese with some butter and spices. But we have been leaning heavily into the comfort food lately so this just sounded good and it was. How could it not be? 
Overall, we didn't mind this meal. At about $50 total, it ended up being almost 2 meals for Marie and I. Not a big place. There will be seating for probably a couple of dozen people when we put this pandemic thing behind us.
For what it's worth, we give Tofun Fusion Hotpot, 3 out of 5.

Tofun Pot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Shiok Singaporean Cuisine

It is very impressive how restaurants are adapting to touch-free procedures for ordering and pick up. Admittedly, we have come across some web sites that are glitchy and difficult when it comes to all this. I would encourage restauranteurs to visit their own websites to try it out. And remember that not all of the take out ordering public are 100% computer geniuses. More than once, I have found something slightly less than intuitive and struggled to find the solution. Shiok's web ordering system is very good once you know that you have to enter a credit card number for payment. I was planning on using my debit card but that is not an option here.
Shiok is located on Kingsway between Victoria and King Ed. The manager met me at the front door which he pushed open with his window squeegee on a pole! I popped my heel behind the door and we had a brief friendly but physically distant conversation about how crazy all of this is. I  then picked up my bag of carefully organized treats off the table placed across the front door and went on my way! So efficient and safe!
Once we got home, we started the exercise of organizing things on plates to make them look tasty! This was not to difficult with the Nasi Lemak one of our favourite snacks with crunchy fried anchovies and peanuts over rice with shrimp paste, sambal and some cucumbers. This was a tasty bargain at only $4.95.
Shiok has a number of small items listed as 'Snacks' that are quite small portions but not too expensive so you can try a bunch of things..., more or less tapas style. For example, we tried Otak-Otak which I had never heard of before. This was spicy minced fish cake grilled in banana leaf and I loved it! Salty, spicy and a little bit fishy.
I admit that its almost impossible for me to pass on Roti Prata when it is on a menu. This was excellent even after a trip out to the valley. Flaky roti and a nice curry chicken dip.
The Jook was also very good. It is a lot like Marie's Arroz Caldo although she uses more ginger which is fine with me. This dish was rich and filling and with a decent amount of tender chicken.
To this day, I have not fully come to understand the allure of chicken rice but this version was actually quite good. The chicken was moist and the rice was flavourful, slightly gingery and with just a touch of sesame oil.
Finally, I displayed my weakness for Beef Rendang. Coconut curry might be my favourite flavour for anything and the beef had been slow-cooked and was moist and tender. Another winner of a dish.
When I first looked at our $50 order, which all fit into one bag, I felt like maybe we were paying a lot but the reality is that was another meal which stretched into two for both of us and left us full twice. So very good food at a decent price.
I didn't get much of a peek inside as the dining room was behind closed doors. I hope we will see it one day soon.
For what it's worth, we give Shiok Singaporean Cuisine, 4 1/2 out of 5.
Shiok Singaporean Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

M Cafe

All this social distancing is making us crave comfort food. We decided that the menu at M Cafe lent itself to fulfilling some of that craving. While we often look forward to the stereotypical curt service at Hong Kong style cafes (actually some of the friendliest service we have experienced has been at HK cafes), we were glad that they were at least offering take out.
Located just a few blocks west of Coquitlam Centre, M Cafe has its take out service elevated to a science! I was totally impressed! Upon arrival, I was promptly greeted and advised as to my order status (having previously ordered by telephone). Three or so of the staff were operating the nerve centre at a table just inside the door. They had all the bags, implements, condiments all organized for quick packing of your food as it arrived already in take out containers from the kitchen where gloved and masked cooks worked their magic. I was in and out of their space in a flash.
We got home and began carefully assembling separately packaged ingredients into dishes. The first that we figured out (and devoured) was a soup combination with sate beef, fish ball and ramen noodles in Laksa. This frankly inspired combination was delicious. Its been a while since we had laksa and this was coconutty and rich!
Next up was the considerably less confusing, Lotus Leaf Wrap with sticky rice and assorted Chinese sausage and meats. I love the slightly tobacco flavour that the leaf imparts. I'm not sure why I don't pack my work lunch this way.
Black Pepper Shredded Beef with Pan Fried Noodles was another tasty dish. The black pepper sauce was very good with just a bit of bite. There was lots of beef and even more of the noodles. These were of the crispy sort which I wasn't expecting but they soaked up the sauce and made this into a wonderful thing.
Finally, we had one of their lunchtime stone hot pot specials. This was Sliced Lamb Szechuan Spices with Spicy Szechuan Sauce on the side. It came over rice with a fried egg which fared well considering that it was first transported then eased into our serving bowl. More importantly, this was also very tasty. Just a nice hit of spice but not the peppercorn thing that we were sort of hoping for. Somehow, we had three dishes that came with drinks and I had not checked the options properly. Remember to do that if you decide to get take out from here. The menu has a myriad of possibilities.
Another sad, empty but comfortable looking dining room. I can't imagine that we won't be back someday to dine in. BTW, all this food came to less than $50 and Marie and I were fed for lunch and dinner. 
For what it's worth, we give M Cafe 4 1/2 out of 5.
M Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saini Sweets & Restaurant

Nothing like physical distancing with comforting Indian food. I had looked at the menu at Saini Sweets & Restaurant and was intrigued by their inclusion of some Chinese-Indian dishes on their menu.
I had almost given up as I could not get through on the phone and their online ordering was not working but it turned out they are just opening a little later these days and this was a Sunday morning. Obviously, we need to be a little flexible as everyone adjusts to the current temporary reality (the COVID 19 pandemic if you are reading this 10 years from now....and if you are, send me a message back through time!) We ordered several dishes for take out.
We are suckers for Fish Pakora and these were quite good. This is a half order for only $6. I was quite impressed with that option!
We ordered their Tikki with Chana. At first, I thought we had received the wrong dish but the Tikki was hidden underneath a generous helping of tasty spicy chickpeas. The croquettes themselves were very good. This dish was a real vegetarian protein fest and quite delicious.
I know its just Butter Chicken but that's Marie's favourite so we often get it. I thought this one was pretty decent although I take personal credit for the artful use of a few chives to pretty it up. There was a decent amount of chicken and not just a pool of sauce. I will admit that the chicken was a bit dry.
The Lamb Biryani is one of my favourites and that's why we often order it. Again, I take credit for the cilantro but I'm not looking for a job. There was a lot of lamb in this dish and it was very tender. This was another high scoring dish!
And so we moved on to the Indian-Chinese menu and Manchurian Chicken. A saucy, slightly spicy-sweet dish with deep-fried chicken chunks. Yes, I could eat this every day. All this food which lasted more than 2 full meals for both of us was less than $50. Check their website and you will be impressed by their pricing.
These empty dining room pictures are starting to make me a little sad but I am full-on convinced that if we keep following directions, we will be out and about before too many full moons pass. Keep washing your hands, keep your distance and be optimistic.
For what its worth, we give Saini Sweets and Restaurant 4 1/2 out of 5.
Saini Sweets and Restaurant 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...