Karakoram - Vanfoodster Curry Challenge

After getting off to a rough start on Vanfoodster's Curry Challenge (more on that in future posts), we are finally off and running. The great thing about this challenge is that we have never been to three of the four participating eateries and we love trying new places. Karakoram is a Pakistani restaurant which fact really caught our eye. We are acquainted with most Indian regions and their cuisines but we have never eaten at a Pakistani restaurant (and we know that it is not a part of India). We found the menu to be somewhat familiar but partly with some dishes that were new and different to us.

Located at Victoria and E54th and open from 4 o'clock until surprisingly late 7 days a week, we made a reservation and were seated right away upon our arrival.
Karakoram's entry in the curry challenge is their Karahi Chicken Lahori. It took us a while to figure out that the karahi is the metal dish that the chicken was cooked and served in. It is like a smallish steel wok that is used on the stovetop over high heat. This was a wonderful dish with an amazing depth of  flavour featuring tomato with ginger, jalapeno, cumin and coriander. BTW, we were given the mild, medium or spicy chice on most menu items.
A half chicken for two comes with rice and some of the best naan that we have ever had for only $26!. This is a ridiculous deal and you don't need anything else to make it a filling and delicious meal for two! There are 6 other Karai meals for two on their menu each at only $26!
Of course, I always order too much and we love Fish Pakora. Again, I am obliged to drag out a superlative as this might be the best fish pakora that we have ever eaten! The basa itself was deep yellow and flavourful with the tumeric from the marinade, the batter was crispy and the mint chutney delicious.
From one of their own blog posts which lists the top Pakistani dishes that you should try, came the Stuffed Naan. You can choose the filling and we chose lamb. With the ground lamb were ginger, onion, coriander and spices, this was not a thick stuffing but a thinnish affair to be dipped in the accompanying raita. Excellent!
We drank a Mango Lassi as well which was as good as dessert.
Karakoram is a comfortable place and the staff are excellent, friendly and efficient. Social distancing protocols are in place and carefully followed. It would have been embarrassing if we had finished all the food that I ordered. We took at least half of it home for the next day as the portions are generous and reasonably priced! We will definitely be back to try more off of their varied menu. Put this place on your list for sure!

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

Ono's Sushi - Abbotsford

Given that Highstreet is only 15 minutes east of where we live, it is surprising that we generally head west whenever we need anything that Aldergrove does not offer. However, my parents live yet another 15 minutes east and I often end up at their place for whatever reasons (including that they are my parents) and sometimes feel like getting something to eat on the way home. So I thought I would try Ono's Sushi.

To be honest, High Street is not unpleasant as malls go and they have quite a few eateries, a few of which are worth checking out. Like most places these days, OS seems to be doing more take out than dine in which meant there was no waiting for a table. I have been a couple of times now and have been impressed both times.
To my surprise, they offer Aburi Oshi Sushi at OS. I apologize for being surprised but I have a lifetime of considering Abbotsford (well, and Aldergrove) and anywhere east to be a bit 'hick'. I can say that since I grew up there. These days it is not as true as it used to be and this sushi was very good. Nice!
There is nothing quite as comforting as Oyaki Don and this was also really tasty and warming. The chicken was very tender and I love the rice that has soaked up the sauces from above. The egg was just barely cooked which is perfect. This came with Miso Soup and was perfect for a rainy day.
During my other visit, I decided to test their Nigiri skills and they did very well (not that I am a sushi chef). They offer a lot of rolls and other things but I always feel like Nigiri is the measure and the most enjoyable. The fish and roe were all very fresh and bright tasting and the portions were decent. If anything, there could have been more rice and as usual, there was no wasabi on the rice (I have no problem adding my own).
So OS also serves ramen. This is the farthest out into the Valley that I have seen it and it was very good. I had the Tonkatsu Ramen in a combo with Pork Gyoza. They make their broth in-house and it had a nice depth of flavour. It was served with lots of decent noodles and other toppings. The chashu was a bit on the slight side in comparison to some that we have had. 
The Pork Gyoza were deep-fried and nicely crispy with a meaty filling. There were actually 4 per order but I forgot to take the picture when it first arrived! Nice dipping sauce on the side as well.
Mharie was working but requested I get her a California Roll (which I tasted, of course). It was quite solid. There is a pretty extensive menu here and I have to tell you that everything sounded good.
It's a nice little restaurant with a few tables and some comfortable booths. The service was friendly and efficient both times that I visited. They are being COVID careful with sanitizer at the door, masks and only certain tables occupied. Don't be shy about trying Ono's Sushi.
Food                        4 out of 5
Comfort                   4 out of 5
Service                     4 out of 5
Value                        4 out of 5
Ono's Sushi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mi Casa Mexicana - More Birria Tacos!

Our search for Birria Tacos continued with a visit to the impressive Mi Casa Mexicana. Not as impressive is our outside photo and you would not be blamed for thinking that we were having our lunch at Chronic Ink.

Carefully tucked upstairs at the corner of Burrard and 4th is this Mexican restaurant offering all of our favourites as well as a few things that we had never tried before. We arrived at noon on Saturday, were warmly greeted and seated in a booth by the window where we could observe near misses in the intersection below.
Well, we came first and foremost for the Quesabirria. This double combo came with 2 cups of broth which was so tasty that even after we finished dipping our tacos, we were inclined to drink the broth. It had some very deep and beefy flavour. Mharie estimated that it was the best that we have had, this being our 4th birria tasting.
The tacos themselves were excellent being crispy on the outside with the very rich slow-cooked beef, a good hit of cheese, onions and cilantro.
A Pambazo is a Mexican street sandwich. The bun is coated in red guajillo sauce, then stuffed with chorizo, potato, lettuce, cheese and sour cream. The bun is reddish and fragrant from the sauce but not messy like I kind of expected. It was a very good sandwich of course, as how can you go wrong with these ingredients. The chorizo (like pretty well everything here) is house-made.
More of that chorizo came in a Gordita. To be honest, I was trying to order the Chicharron Prensado Gordita but we had a momentary communications breakdown. This was pretty tasty anyway and probably healthier than Chicharon (not by much). We love the thicker corn tortillas.
I always say that tamales are the true test of a kitchen. We ordered the Chicken Verde and Jalapeno and Cheese. The tricky thing about tamales is that they can dry out during cooking very easily but these both retaining just enough of their moisture to be very good, especially with a little addition of one of the three hot sauces we had on the table.
Finally, we had just enough room for dessert namely Mharie's favourite, Churros. These had a filling of a sort of vanilla cream which really moved them by a notch! Very nice!
It is actually quiet in this room above the chaos of traffic outside. The soundtrack is modern Latino (not sure if that's really what it is called) that was very pleasant. The staff here are pleasant and friendly as well and our server was enthusiastic about what they are doing here. Definitely, one of the best Mexican restaurants in Metro Vancouver and we have been to a few lately. I'm not sure what took us so long to get here!
Food                     4 1/2 out of 5
Comfort                4 out of 5
Service                 4 1/2 out of 5
Value                    4 out of 5

Mi Casa Mexicana Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


They are finally open! I have been stalking this place since I heard about it months ago! Meltwich Food Co. seems to be pretty popular in Ontario and there are locations all across Canada (maybe 2 dozen by the time all the existing and a few planned locations are all open). And now we have our first in BC!

It's all about cheese! Almost everything on the menu has melty cheese in some form or other.
We started with a regular Grilled Cheese Sandwich with smoked cheddar on sourdough. It was $6.50 and you could probably make it at home but it was crispy and cheesy and made us happy.
We tried a Philly Cheese Steak. The menu says "classic ingredients" which is not exactly true because classic ingredients would include a hoagie roll. I was initially disappointed but this turned out to be a pretty tasty sandwich. The sliced sirloin was tender and beefy. We were not overly aware of the grilled onions and mushrooms but the mozzarella was certainly there. I can't recall the exact price but it seemed like a decent value.
We were impressed to see that Meltwich has 7 offerings under the heading "plant-based" and not just a token sandwich or two like many places. We ordered the Crispy Nashville Vegan Melt and ended up tempering our initial impression a bit. The Nashville part seemed to be fully missing as this was just a grilled cheese with vegan chicken. It was OK but the name could be toned down a bit so as not to build up expectations so much.
Another day, we decided to try a few more items. We got take out this time. Mharie wanted to try the Crispy Chicken Sandwich which turned out to be not too bad. It would be better to eat this one hot out of the fryer of course, but even after travel it still stood up. The advertised teriyaki grilled onions and Sriracha slaw were not really noticeable (we read it on the menu after) but the American cheese was present and accounted for.
The  Monster Melt was definitely something that we knew we needed to try although monster might be a bit of a misnomer. At $14, we thought it was worthwhile. The beef was tasty and the mac and cheese, bacon and grilled cheese buns were all contributors to a pretty good sandwich.
The Classic Poutine was also decent. I think this was just Mozzarella rather than curds but there was a lot of it. The gravy was beefy and the fries stood up to the toppings. This is another dish that you should eat soon after prep rather than driving it all the way to Aldergrove!
The Onion Rings were also tasty! Crispy and not greasy with good chunks of onion.
There are a few tables at Meltwich and they have a few types of beer including Blue Ribbon on tap evidently. They are friendly and seem efficient despite being fairly newly opened. I have to keep reminding myself that this is in reality, a fast food joint and to be reasonable in my expectations. With that in mind,  we kind of like this place!
Food                     3 out of 5
Comfort                3 out of 5
Service                 3 1/2 out of 5
Value                    3 out of 5

Meltwich Food Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

bin 4 Burger Lounge - Dine Out Vancouver

We decided to squeeze one more DOV visit in before the end of the festival. Typically, when I browsed the menus, I generally looked for a few things. I like to try restaurants that we have never visited before (I think that is mostly the point of the festival). I like a menu that offers a little creativity and variety (it's no fun if Mharie and I have to both eat the same thing). And I admit that I also hope the menu is giving us a bit of a deal! I don't expect deep discounts because this is a hard time to keep a restaurant going but they can at least make an attempt to offer something. I noticed that The Arbour was offering their always available $49 for 3 courses (which we tried and loved back in Veganuary) which was not special for DOV, so why go now? Bin 4 Burger Lounge is a place that I have wanted to visit for a long time and they give you a bit of a deal, a little variety and a little creativity on their $25 menu. We made a reservation for Sunday lunch and planned to show up at their Granville and 14th location.

As it happened, bin 4 had some equipment issues and they called us in plenty of time to reschedule for a week after the end of DOV assuring us that they were extending the menu. They offered 3 appetizer choices, 4 sandwich choices and an assortment of chocolate truffles for dessert.
Before we had even placed our order, a little bowl of complimentary house-made potato chips was brought to our table. Nice!
I'm not sure why I love Deep-Fried Pickles so much but we often order them. These were good meaty spears that stood up well to the coating and frying. A chipotle mayo dip provided a little bit of spice.
The Goat Cheese Bruschetta was a treat! The goat cheese was panko coated and fried and drizzled with a balsamic reduction. We spooned the cheese and a sort of pico de gallo onto crostini and enjoyed the result.
The highlight of "The Bistro" was definitely the Brie and sweet onion jam. With a grilled chicken breast, a generous serving of bacon, tomato and lettuce this was a very good sandwich. We ordered it with fries which were some of the best we've had in a while (the measure is the crispy little ones) and a garlic mayo dip.
The "Big Spenny" was the burger we ordered (at a 2$ premium) which featured BC Wagyu beef. This was absolutely some of the best beef that I have tasted in a burger and with the cheese, bacon etc. is definitely worth the trip if you are a serious burger person. Pretty amazing salad on the side as well that gave us the feeling that we were eating our vegetables!
A few chocolate truffles for dessert were very rich and deeply chocolatey. I don't believe that anyone would leave hungry after this DOV menu. The whole point of Dine Out Vancouver is to coax customers in with a sexy menu and then impress them so that they will return. Colour us impressed!
B4BL is a comfortable restaurant with inside booths and outside covered seating as well. Booths are separated with plexiglass and servers (and customers) are required to mask up. The service was friendly and the kitchen seems efficient. There is a lot on the menu that we could be tempted to come back and try. It's a nice place to grab a bite.
Food                  3 1/2 out of 5
Comfort             4 out of 5
Service              4 out of 5
Value                 3 1/2 out of 5

Bin 4 Burger Lounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mooby's Pop Up

So back at the beginning of February, I saw an article on the Daily Hive about the coming pop-up by movie maker Kevin Smith called Mooby's named after the fast-food restaurant featured in his Jay and Silent Bob films, but dating back to his 1999 film, Dogma. Admittedly, I had never seen a Jay and Silent Bob movie (or any other Kevin Smith film), but the menu was good and the hype made it sound like it might be a fun thing to be a part of! So I placed an order and then set about researching to see what I had gotten us into! I first watched the most easily available movie, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot. I have to admit that I thought it was one of the worst movies that I had ever seen! I guess that I have outgrown adolescent and crude humour because it was truly painful. There were some funny moments, I will admit and some of the cameos were truly amazing but overall....? Refusing to give up, I searched Netflicks and found Mallrats. This turned out to be another painful movie but again there were moments and impressive cameos. My favourite part was Ethan Suplee's character trying (all day long) to see the sailboat in the autostereogram (do they still make those?). The stupidest thing of all is that after these two movies, I still wanted more! Kevin Smith's world is full of recurring characters and themes with comic book side themes and even this restaurant and I needed to figure out the allure! But back to Mooby's!

We had placed our order, paid the exorbitant price of $55 including not one but two service charges, and got a pickup time. We arrived at 4:15 Sunday, took a few pics and selfies, paid another $4.20 for a can of Coke (I wanted the themed cup!) and drove home.
One of the highlights of this thing was the names of the sandwiches and sides which reference the movies (mostly). First up was the Cock Smoker Chicken Sandwich (no, really) and Onion Rings to Rule Them All (the latter being more of a Lord of the Rings reference but the former is a Jay and Silent Bob thing). To be honest, this was not terrible. The o rings were crispy and the sandwich had a bit of spice to it with some decent slaw and a decent bun. I know that this is less about the food than the schtick so I was slightly impressed.
Next was the Cow Tipper Burger and Hater Totz. Again, not terrible! A pretty good burger with a fair bit of cheese, decent beef, a decent bun and a couple of pickles. The tots were spiced up a bit (not that anyone with an oven can't do tots) and crispy. 
So that was our kind of lame experience. The pickup location at Dublin Calling was sort of dark and dingy and not as much fun as it could have been. Service was curt and the whole thing did not do a lot in my mind for the Kevin Smith Brand.
N.B. I have watched yet 2 more KS movies (obviously being a glutton for punishment and a bit of a sucker). Chasing Amy was again not great as they attempted to tackle something a bit deeper but not very well. Is it possible that the movie was 20 years old that it didn't work for me? I love lots of old movies that have endured well enough. Also, I watched Dogma, learned the origin of Mooby and again wondered at the star power! My favourite moment was when the last Scion (Linda Fiorentino) asks God (Alanis Morisette) about the meaning of life. The answer is a wry grin from God and a tweak on the nose! Other than that....meh.

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...