I have to admit that I have always kind of passed Ebisu by. Their web site has always made me think that the restaurant is sort of the Asian food equivalent of a Cactus Club or Earls or other chain. There is nothing wrong with those places other than that they seem to keep pretty much to the road most travelled and don't really specialize. Not to sound like a food snob (well maybe just a little) but that's just my thought process. We were intending to eat at a place along Broadway for dinner on Boxing Day but it turned out to be closed (they had posted the closing on Instagram so I can't be too grouchy about it). As we walked it seemed that every other place was closed also but then there was Ebisu. So getting hungry and being grateful to find someplace open, we decided to give them a try. 

We were seated right away at a nice big booth by a window (always happy to have space for taking pictures) and spent some time perusing the extensive menu.
It did not take me long to overcome my reticence about Ebisu as I decided to order freshly shucked oysters to start. I had not realized that they were on the Happy Hour menu at $6.50 for 5 so that made me happy! These little Royal Maiyagi oysters were delightfully cold and fresh and just nicely briny and served with a slightly spicy sauce! As Mharie is not a fan, I had them all to myself! Score!
We ordered Ika Karaage also off the HH menu and they arrived hot and crispy and served with spicy mayo. Nice!
Mharie chose the Bento Box with Sukiyaki and Karaage. Both were tasty enough but the chcken had a couple of inedible gristle pieces. The assorted tempura was OK as were the Dynamite and California rolls. It came with miso soup (you've seen that before) and a nice refreshing dish of ice cream to finish.
I had the Curry Katsu Rice. This was also tasty enough if not mind-blowing. I enjoyed it including the side salad. 
Ebisu is a comfortable place with very friendly and efficient service. They will have something for just about everyone so it might be a good place for the picky or the unadventurous. I feel like it was just about what I expected it to be but maybe a little better. And loved the oysters!
Food                 3 out of 5
Comfort            4 out of 5
Service             4 out of 5
Value                3 1/2 out of 5

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

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka

Like many of the ramen places in Vancouver, Hokkaido Ramen Santouka got its start in Japan (in Hokkaido not surprisingly) decades ago when we were still eating nothing but chicken noodle soup here. If I have counted correctly, there seem to be 56 outlets of HRS now including 2 in Vancouver. In this space, I have mused that fried chicken may be the ultimate pandemic food but I would say that ramen gives it a run for its money (OK so macaroni and cheese, laksa, congee, kare-kare and a lot of other things qualify also). We found ourselves at their restaurant on Broadway near Cambie one rainy Saturday morning.

We were seated right away and placed our order, going off the beaten shoyu/shia path for a change. But speaking of fried chicken...
Zangi is the version of Japanese fried chicken that actually originates in Hokkaido. The only difference between it and Karaage is that Zangi is marinated before frying. It was crisp and tasty but without a side by side taste test, I couldn't really attest to a difference. It was served with a garlicky mayo which provided an excellent contrast.
We have never actually had Ginger Ramen before but it sounded good and also, I have noticed that if the menu tells me that an item is limited (20 bowls a day served) then I can't help myself. There was a nice selection of vegetables in this bowl and the ginger was tasty and provided a nice warming spiciness that is perfect for a cold day (and a restaurant that keeps its front door open and is on the chilly side). Hidden from view in this photo are some lovely noodles with nice chew and small pieces of pork.
We also enjoyed the Tsuke-Men (cold ramen noodles with dipping soup). These noodles also had a very nice texture. It also had the small pork pieces which we generally found to be a little on the chewy side but tasty enough. I can see us swerving back to our old standbys, shoyu, shia and chashu in the future.
Lastly came the rice bowl with grilled salmon and Ikaru (salmon roe). The Ikaru was very much my favourite single item of our lunch this day. The pop is not quite as sharp with these larger fish eggs (compared to massago for example) but its flavour was mild and I was convinced that it was smokey. Very nice.
HRS is mostly following the pandemic protocols with separated tables and well-followed mask rules but I did notice that the servers were refilling our water glasses which called for leaning in while we weren't wearing our masks (to eat obviously). While we would usually applaud attentive service, most places leave water and glasses and allow you to fend for yourselves which is a safer procedure. HRS may want to reconsider this one detail. Otherwise, we very much enjoyed our lunch here and recommend that ramen fans give them a try!
Food            3 1/2 out of 5
Comfort       2 1/2 our of 5 (quite chilly)
Service        3 out of 5 (very nice service but the water thing)
Value           3 1/2 out of 5

 Hokkaido Ramen Santouka Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Belgian Chocolate Cafe

Belgian Chocolate Cafe is one of those places that I was excited to visit when it first opened but we just never got there (except one time when we went not realizing that it closed at 6 pm). We saw on Instagram that people were posting the melting dome under the stream of rich warm chocolate and wanted badly to try it! Finally, here we are!

Located right across from the Parq on Smithe, BCC is closed by 6 or 6:30 every day which we find odd but we made room for it. The specialty here is rich Belgian Chocolate in both liquid and solid forms. 
They do some specialty coffees and hot chocolate. Curiously, no drip coffee so I tried a Cappuccino which was very nice. Mharie had her decaf  Americano which was also well done.
In addition to a lot of cakes and sweets, BCC does a few breakfast and lunch items including some very nice waffles. These came with ice cream and a pot de chocolat which made it a wonderful treat! Very rich warm chocolate!
Finally, what we really came for was the Chocolate Dome! We took a video of the process of pouring the rich warm chocolate over the dome and seeing it fold in on itself, revealing a rich cheesecake centre. However, the video is not impressive so I will post a few pictures instead to give you the gist.

As you may be able to tell, pouring chocolate and taking pictures with my phone at the same time is not my strong point, but you get
the idea.

Also, I feel like Blogger could be a little more cooperative and intuitive as to placing and moving photos but oh well, it's free and I am no techno-wizard. All in all, it looks OK, doesn't it?

This is very close to chocolate overload if there is really such a thing! There was so much richness between the dome, the cheesecake and the liquid that one might be advised to check one's blood sugar after and also, make time for a nice nap! This was a wonderful treat that we highly recommend!
BCC is not a huge cafe but there are a few tables and the folks here are observing the social distancing rules. There was also a table outside but it was a little chilly when we were there. Come here for a hot chocolate or a nice treat or one of their breakfast or lunch items and a very good coffee.
Food            4 1/2 out of 5
Service        4 out of 5
Comfort       4 out of 5
Value          3 1/2 out of 5

The Belgian Chocolate Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fritou Chicken Restaurant - Abbotsford

It seems like we eat more fried chicken than usual these days (unless it's a vegan month), with new fried chicken joints opening up on every corner and I'm wondering if it is not pandemic related. Could fried chicken be the perfect comfort food? If so, keep eating it for a few more months and do not let your guard down just yet because of the seeming nearness of the vaccinations.

Fritou is a Quebec chain that has been around since 1993. CFR in Abbotsford (on George Ferguson near Gladwin) is not the first place in BC to serve Fritou chicken (there is 777 Pizza in Surrey and Duffins in Vancouver serves it as well...or at least used to....I can neither confirm nor deny at the moment) but I am pretty sure that it is the first location dedicated to the brand.
I noticed Fritou on a drive-by (on my way to get my haircut) and stalked them until they opened. It was a little confusing at first. Their website was useless (it is much better now) and apparently they had supplier problems but now they seem to be rolling. On my first visit, they had a six wing and fries special for $12.95. These were not wing pieces but whole wings and they were fantastic. This is definitely some of the best fried chicken that I have ever had. It is 24 hour brined and pressure deep-fried. It is always freshly made (be prepared to wait a bit), hot (my God, don't burn yourself), moist and flavourful! The fries were ok being the type with a coating that makes them very crispy.
I got an order of General Tao Chicken (comes with rice) to bring home for Mharie (and saved a couple of wings too). It was alright being a bit sweet and could have been spicier. Made with fried chicken also, I feel like it would have been better hot in the restaurant. 
We decided to check out Fritou again to confirm that the fried chicken was indeed spectacular and it was. This time we ordered a 3 piece combo (2 pieces spicy and 1 piece original). Again the chicken was piping hot from the fryer, crispy but juicy inside. Amazing!
We opted for onion rings instead of fries and they were also very good. They could have been hotter and I think that's just a timing thing that will be learned with experience (the o rings had to wait for the chicken). They are just newly opened after all. They were still very ungreasy and tasty.
I am not a big fan of poutine. I especially dislike it when people refer to poutine as Canada's national dish (really?... fries, gravy and cheese?...that's the best we can do?) but I thought that since this was a Quebec-based chain that they might have the inside track. Well, we were wrong about that. The fries were OK but on the soggy side because that what happens when you cover them in gravy. The gravy was meh as it is chicken gravy and that's the way they make it in Quebec. The cheese was not of the squeaky variety as it should be. The bottom line is, eat the chicken but don't bother with the poutine.
This is a mostly take-out place but there are 4 socially distanced tables available at the moment. The owners are a lovely friendly couple and they are clearly interested in their customer's experience. And they make wonderful fried chicken!
Food            4 out of 5
Comfort       4 out of 5
Service        4 out of 5
Value           4 out of 5 

Fritou Chicken Restaurants Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Anthem Pizza

OK so I really wanted a Chi Pig pizza box but they weren't available at the time. I have been listening to SNFU a bit lately and find their music to be rather melodic for a punk band. The twins are really excellent guitarists and play off each other well and Chi was an impressive frontman. I kind of wish I was into them back when they were playing the Vancouver clubs and bars. R.I.P. Ken Chinn.

I couldn't get the pizza box but we went and checked out the mural in his honour in Gastown.
Admittedly, this is the most I have spent on pizza in a long time but a) this is really good pizza, b) this is pizza with a purpose (a portion of the proceeds goes to charity including the BC Children's Hospital Foundation) and c) it served us for 2 full meals. This is a take out only kind of deal, one of the two pick up locations being at The Five Point on Main Street between 15th and 16th.
We ordered 2 pizzas the first of which was the "I Want To Be Sedated" which was mushrooms, various cheeses and truffle oil on Alfredo sauce. They were maybe just a bit heavy-handed with the truffle oil which can happen fast and frankly it was not a terrible thing. The crust was very good with a hint of char but maybe just a bit on the too chewy side. It was an amazing combination of flavours though and they are generous with the toppings.
Mharie likes her Hawaiian style pizza and so we tried "Hunky Dory" which featured Prosciutto and pineapple jam. The addition of banana peppers gave it just a bit of a kick.  Pretty impressive! All of Anthem's pizzas are in the $20 to 24 range (one size) and are named mostly for rock 'anthems'. 
As for the boxes, while Chi Pig was not available, Dr. H was. All of the boxes are almost works of art and worth driving out of your way to get (will we end up trying to collecting them all?).
In addition to pizza, you can order wings or a couple of different salads and a bunch of different T-shirts.
We opted for the J.J. Kale Salad which seems expensive at $14 but is actually packed with green goodness as well as crispy prosciutto etc. It tasted great and made us feel good about ourselves! We're keen on Anthem Pizza for all of the above-mentioned reasons. Try them out and consider collecting all the boxes! I cut the cover off of ours and I realize now that a true hobbyist would have kept them complete (but there was cheese on them! ).
Food                    4 out of 5
Comfort               3 out of 5
Service                4 out of 5
Value                   4 out of 5 (especially considering the charity angle)

Anthem Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Major Joy Flavoured Chicken

When I first saw this place, I honestly took it to be a Filipino chicken joint. The word "joy" in the name is reminiscent of the soon to be opening in Vancouver, Jolibee which offers "chicken joy" on its menu (btw, a Jollibee in Vancouver is good for the environment as Filipinos in the area will no longer need to drive to Seattle to get their "chicken joy" fix!...well and me too!)

Located at the corner of 88th and KG Boulevard in Surrey, MJ is more South Asian in its leaning featuring fried or grilled chicken in seven different flavours!
So we ordered a few things to go including an excellent Mango Milkshake for the drive home. The milkshake was topped with some small chunks of real mango and the shake itself was thick (not too thick) and flavourful.
We ordered an eight-piece meal which came with three sides. We ordered the chicken in four different flavours with two pieces of each flavour. They actually gave us nine pieces (sort of along the lines of a baker's dozen). We ordered original, tandoori, fresh chilli mint, and lemon pepper. Unfortunately, they all tasted the same and no, this is not a COVID 19 symptom. Don't get me wrong, this is really good fried chicken. It was crispy yet tender and juicy just like you always hope and in contrast to the colonel's offerings but it was not flavoured. I thought I got a hint of tandoori with one bite and imagined a hint of lemon pepper but it was not as advertised. I don't know if their flavours are so subtle (what would be the point) or if they just forgot our order and gave us all original (hard to imagine as we went over our order at least a couple of times to confirm). It was a little disappointing!
The sides that we had were all decent including the slaw and Lime Chilli Corn.
Fries were our third side and they were decent, skin on and crispy. Finally, we chose a couple of dips which were good but I can't remember what they were. 
They have a nice airy, sky-lit dining room. The chicken is definitely cooked to order and the service is friendly. I will always be confused about the no-flavour flavours though.
Food                  2 1/2 out of 5    (good chicken but it all tasted the same)
Service              3 1/2 out of 5 (friendly but did they just screw up?)
Comfort             3 out of 5 (decent fast food digs)
Value                 3 out of 5
Major Joy Flavoured Chicken Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Golden Swan Restaurant

Sometimes only dim sum will do and a rainy and chilly Sunday morning is one of those times. As we have an endless supply of places that serve dim sum in Metro Vancouver so we have endless lists offering recommendations as to which places to visit. One of those lists mentions Golden Swan so off we went.

Golden Swan has a fair-sized dining room and we arrived early so we were seated right away. I had seen their menu online but when we arrived we saw that they had cart service as well. Cart service is dangerous for me as everything looks good and I could end up filling our table with no apparent plan.
And so before I got control of myself and filled out the request form, we found ourselves with these spectaularScallop Dumplings on our table. On top, there was a fairly substantial slice of perfectly cooked and succulent scallop. Underneath there were decent sized pieces of also perfectly cooked shrimp that had that slight snap in texture that we love. Were it not for the timely passing of the cart lady, we would never have had the privilege of enjoying this.
Also off the cart were siu mai. These were meaty and tasty but no surprises. A nice little taste of fish roe on the top which is always a pleasure. 
We checked three items off on the menu, the first of which was Chicken Feet with Special Sauce. These were tender and good. I can't explain our need to always order chicken feet. They are just comforting and rich and with a special texture that you don't get from the lean meat type items. We just really like them!
We've also grown fond of Deep Fried Taro Buns. I'm not even sure how the chefs create the lacey crisp outer shell but it is delightful. Inside the taro filling can be somewhat dense at times but these had ground pork and taro filling which gave us the nice creamy taro and the meaty pork. These were among the best we've had.
Finally, we always tender to order rice roll in one form or another. This time it was with Chinese donut and pork floss. The slightly sweet pork floss is an interesting product. Apparently, a lot of pork goes to make a small amount of floss so not exactly environmentally friendly so use it sparingly. We also love the sesame dip which usually accompanies rice roll.
I don't feel like we have the expertise to create our own top ten list of dim sum joints but I think Golden Swan would definitely be on it. We just seem to love dim sum everywhere we go. The staff were very conscientious of the social distancing rules, even the cart ladies which is a little difficult. 
Food                    4 out of 5
Comfort               4 1/2 out of 5
Service                4 1/2 out of 5   
Value                   4 out of 5

Golden Swan Restaurant 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...