Duffin's Donuts

Duffin's Donuts has been forever the place you could go in the middle of the night for fried chicken and donuts. There is virtually no one from the area who has not been there except for Mharie and me and we have long intended to check it out at least once. Located at the corner of 41st and Knight, they no longer serve the Chinese food or noodle soup alluded to on the exterior awning but you can get a decent torta.  Bonus...there is parking!
DD is not entertaining inside diners at the moment but seems to be keeping busy with take-out. It looks a little scruffy these days but we found the eats to be solid. Not spectacular but solid.
Obviously, you line up and place your order then step aside and wait for it to be packaged up which happens pretty quickly. The folks were friendly and we were impressed by their multi-ethnic nature and the fact that everyone moved pretty quickly! Also, everything was decently priced and I kept thinking that they had made a mistake (they hadn't)!
The fried chicken is very good. It is Fritou Chicken which is a Quebec brand of pressure deep-fried chicken available in spicy and regular flavours. Fritou has opened an Abbotsford franchise which we like. The 3 piece and fries for a little over $8. I expected 3 puny pieces but it was actually a generous portion. We chose spicy and it was mildly so while being pretty crispy and moist even after the trip home to Aldergrove (we warmed it in the air -fryer which worked well). The fries were OK also.
We ordered a Machaca Torta as well. For a place that serves donuts and fried chicken, this seemed to be about as far off-topic as you can get so we had to have it! Machaca is traditionally Mexican dried beef but often that is what shredded beef is called. At any rate, it was a pretty decent sandwich. The bread was tasty enough and there was enough lettuce, tomato etc to keep it from being dry.
I was only going to order a couple of donuts but it turns out that they are 6 for $7, so I saved about 12 cents and added a couple of thousand sugar calories. They were all OK. I wouldn't order the apple turnover again. The jelly-filled were actually generously filled to the point of being impressive.
So after all these years, we've been to Duffin's Donuts. The website shows them being open from 6 a.m. to midnight so don't go making a special 3 in the morning trip.
Still, decent eats when you're you have the munchies or just want quick and cheap solid food!
Food                  3 out of 5
Comfort             not really a thing right now
Service              3 1/2 out of 5
Value                 3 1/2 out of 5

Sip Bowl La Mian

I will warn you in advance that I really loved this place and will not be cheap with the superlatives. It has been on my list for a long time but it is a solid hour's drive for us to get from Aldergrove to Kerrisdale even in Sunday morning traffic so we kind of often end up going to the places with shorter commutes.

Located on 41st just east of Yew, we showed up early on Sunday and were seated without a wait. At SB, combos seem to be the way to go, so we ordered two. They specialize in Lanzhou hand-pulled noodles here and there are seven choices of thickness and shape!
The combos start with your choice of noodle dish and Mharie felt like soup (a bit chilly this particular day). She chose the Signature Bowl with threaded (or triangular) shaped noodles. Don't ask me how they arrive at that shape! The beef soup was warming and rich and the noodles spectacular having just been pulled. The brisket was tender and tasty and Mharied added a little chilli oil which was available at the table. It was very good.
Myself, I chose the Scallion Noodles with thin noodles. This was more or less soy sauce noodles but with peanuts and a soy sauce egg in addition to the scallions. It was quite enjoyable.
As good as the freshly made noodles were, it was the side dishes that really amazed me. We ordered a Wheat Sponge Salad which is what? Bread? It looks a little like bread but has much more texture and is dried wheat gluten that is reconstituted. It has a nice chewy texture and picks up the flavours very well. The dressing included sesame and a little spice and vinegar and was something brand new and tasty for us! In the background is their signature pickled cabbage.
Finally, we tried their Peppercorn Chicken as a side. This was another very unique dish. A cold dish of shredded chicken but not cut into uniform pieces. They were in all different sizes and shapes. A cool slightly creamy vinegary sauce complete with Szechuan peppercorns created that slightly numbing feeling which is delightful. This was amazing and it should be on your list with the Wheat Sponge Salad and the freshly pulled noodles!
Our man at work in the back was moving a little too fast for me to get the perfect picture but you get the idea. He even came out to the dining room to make sure we were enjoying his craftmanship!
Sip Bowl La Mian is a sharp-looking and comfortable little place. We enjoyed the murals and the various decorative touches. The folks working here are friendly and service is quick despite the fact that your noodles are pulled upon order! Any meal which allows us to try something that we have never eaten before is a good one and we highly recommend that  you pay them a visit.
Food                  4 1/2 out of 5
Comfort             4 out of 5
Service              4 1/2 out of 5
Value                 4 out of 5

Rio Tacos in Harrison Hot Springs

We did a bit of a road trip to try to exorcise some of our range anxiety with our electric car.  We purchased a 2020 Hyundai Ioniq 3 months ago and have really not gone any farther than Vancouver and back so far. We love the car not just for the fuel savings and the reduction in our carbon footprint but because it is quiet and comfortable and accelerates pretty impressively when we feel like showing off. Still, we felt the need to test its range a bit more. 

We have the range to do the Aldergrove to Hope to Harrison and home route but we wanted to check out the on-the-road charging options which we haven't done so far. Of course, there are apps and maps which show where the chargers are and availability and so on but it's not like topping up your gas tank in 5 minutes so we decided to pretend that we needed to charge. In Hope, we used the BCH fast charger (it is only 25kW so they call it a mini fast charger) which has a time limit of 40 minutes and it gave us about 90 km of range for less than $5. There seem to be lots of chargers around but when they are being used, you can be waiting for a while. We were able to pull up and charge right away but less than 5 minutes later some folks sadly drove by in their EV, realizing that we would be there a while.
We didn't have trouble filling our 40 minute charging period with a little walk around Hope and a nice coffee and breakfasty snack from Blue Moose. From there we took a leisurely drive back on Highway 7 to Agassiz and then Harrison.
Harrison provides a bit more of a charging challenge. It is fine if you are staying at the big hotel and paying $25 a night for parking (they have 4 chargers) or drive a Tesla (there are a couple more of those around) but for the simple folk not driving Tesla's nothing was available. No matter. We didn't need it but it did emphasize the need for EV drivers to plan ahead. One thing we did plan ahead for was tacos.
I find tourist town eateries suspect at the best of times but at least Taco Rio was not on the beach.
Also, surprisingly, TR had Beef Short Rib Birria Quesa Tacos on their menu. They were a little pricey compared to what we've had at $8 each or 3 for $23. I'm not sure if that is a function of tourist town pricing or the fact that they are the only birria tacos for at least 100 km (I don't know if that is actually true) or maybe just that they are made with short ribs. At any rate, they were OK but not life-changing. The broth was a bit further on the bitter side than we would prefer. There was lots of cheese and the melty factor was high but the short rib itself could have been more tender and flavourful despite being a pricier cut of meat than usually gets used. I always assume that everything could be better with salt but I'm not sure if that would work here.
Everything else was good as well. We had a Shrimp Rice Bowl which had a generous amount of tasty deep-fried shrimp in addition to an interesting group of accompaniments to the rice. We never turn our noses up at edamame and enjoyed the pineapple salsa. The tortilla chips were a bit suspect, either from a bag or less than super fresh.
Next up was a Baja Fish Taco and it was pretty good. Nice crispy deep-fried cod and some refreshing pico and cabbage. 
Finally, we tried the Churros complete with the Dulce de Leche Sauce and these were great! When are churros not great, I know, but we really enjoyed them. They arrived hot and generously covered in the cinnamon sugar mix. The caramel was rich and sweet. Full marks for these things.
We enjoyed sitting outside in the shade surrounded by tropical plants which really feel like Mexico might feel. We found the staff to be friendly and enthusiastic! So the food was fair to good but not amazing but I doubt you can do any better in Harrison without dropping a bundle. I'm no expert on Harrison Hot Springs but again, tourist town...
Food             3 out of 5
Comfort        4 out of 5
Service         4 out of 5
Value            3 out of 5

Puro Chile

There is something just exotic enough about green beans on a sandwich to send me out of my way to get it. Of course, we have had Churrascos before in Metro Vancouver but we were anxious to try them at Puro Chile on Denman.

PC serves what I would call Chilean fast food and I admit that I don't have much to compare it to, having never been to Chile or even eaten at a Chilean restaurant as far as I remember.
Its an order at the counter and they deliver your food kind of place and the staff were friendly and helpful enough. Management is indeed Chilean but the folks we met were not, which is fine.
We started with the aforementioned Churrasco (Chacerero is the one we ordered and available only on weekends) which was tasty enough. Shredded or thinly sliced beef, tomato and green beans with mayo on ciabatta that was just nicely chewy. We weren't blown away but it's a nice combination of flavours. The beef could use some work and maybe a bit of salt would have done it. The green beans provide a nice crunch that might otherwise be provided by lettuce or cabbage so this is kind of a step up as far as flavour and creativity are concerned.
Every once in a while I get the idea that a hot dog would be a good idea and it never is. I can't blame that on Puro Chile other than for the fact that the pork wieners on their hot dogs are jumbo and even regular-sized weiners make me queasy after a couple of bites. We ordered the English Bay which came with avocado and corn which did not help. It is sort of a neutral flavour profile all the way through. Should have ordered the Completo which is apparently the most traditional Chilean version. If you like hot dogs, you should definitely try these.
Chilean poutine? No, not really. It starts with French fries but that's where the similarity ends. Topped with beef and onions, fried egg and barbeque sauce, Chorillana doesn't seem so much like a cultural icon as much as some tasty stuff that you just throw together when you're hungry....I guess that is kind of like poutine also. It was tasty enough but again, the beef could use some work. It was just not that "beefy".
So Puro Chile is a fast food place and we shouldn't judge Chilean cuisine based on what they serve. It is comfortable enough here and the staff are friendly. If you are in a hurry, this is probably a better choice than the usual fast food and at least it is a little different and interesting. Give them a try at least once and maybe you will be more impressed than we were.
Food             2 1/2 out of 5
Comfort        3 1/2 out of 5
Service         3 1/2 out of 5
Value            3 out of 5 

Bayong Kitchen Filipino Eaery

In the space that was previously occupied by Holy Taco at the corner of 160th and Fraser Highway, Bayong Kitchen Filipino Eatery has appeared, apparently opened by the people who run Grandt Kitchen in Surrey.

We kind of try to make sure we are bringing attention to the new Filipino places that show up because, well, one of us is Filipina. We arrived to find the place full of Filipinos so you know what that is supposed to mean. Realistically, it could just be that they are trying a new place just like us but Bayong Kitchen turned out to be worth trying. As usual, I had perused the menu and had a plan but when we walked in, it seemed that everyone was opting for family platters and that seemed like a good idea.
We ordered the Bayong Inihaw Box at 39.95. It allowed us to try quite a few things and we didn't leave hungry.
I hadn't realized that mussels are such a popular thing in the Philippines but that explains why they are on all 3 of the platters on the menu. These were frozen of course, but they didn't do too bad a job at preparing them. They are tasty with either the black vinegar dip or the All-Purpose sauce (another Filipino bottled sauce). The pork skewers were particularly good being slightly sweet and nicely grilled. This was my favourite of the things that we tried.
Grilling is the specialty on the platters but BK does other more stew-like dishes as well. We scarfed down the grilled pompano and really enjoyed the chicken also. There was also garlic rice (no surprise there), eggplant, tomatoes and watermelon on the plate. All in all, it was a decent meal for 2.
It feels pretty typical for a Filipino joint. Not too fancy but functional. You order and ay at the counter and they bring you your food and utensils. There are a few outside tables but it happened to be raining that day.
Down the road in Langley, is a sister business, a Filipino grocery with a few items. We tried a couple of siopao which were OK but not a patch on the ones we get at New Town. 
We got our dessert there, namely Halo-Halo which is crushed ice, sweetened condensed milk with red beans and jellies. It was also OK but not as good as what Mharie makes at home. So we like Bayong Kitchen. It serves good casual home-style Filipino food which everyone should take the time to get famailar with. 
Food                 3 1/2 out of 5
Comfort            3 out of 5
Service             4 out of 5
Value                4 out of 5

Kyu Grill Food Truck

Our pursuit of all the Birria Tacos in Metro Vancouver has finally brought us to Kyu Grill Food Truck. Since KG advertises itself as serving Hawaiian-Japanese fusion dishes, the birria on their menu took us by surprise! We had a bit of an issue finding them at a location we could get to but this past Saturday, they were set up on Bonson Road in Pitt Meadows. There were a couple of other trucks at that location forming a bit of a miniature food truck festival!

We seemed to eat a lot of French fries at KG because we had them as part of a combo and then as the base for their Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp Fries. I will assert that they were really good fries!
The Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp Fries were one of the highlights here. These guys were pealed except for the tail, battered and deep-fried. I expect that there was garlic in the batter and maybe in the sauce too. They were nicely cooked and there were quite a few of them although I didn't count. Really decent fries were the bed for the shrimp and it was all finished with mango sauce, spicy mayo and assorted salad items. Very nice!
The Birria Tacos on the menu is a reflection of the multi-cultural nature of ownership and staff. Whoever built this item has an excellent grasp of what we were hoping for! In Mharie's view, these were the best birria tacos that we have had and I'm inclined to agree. Certainly, the dipping broth was rich and perfect. My feelings would have been hurt if there was more cheese skirt but the beef was tender and amazing.
Finally, the bargain of the afternoon was the combo which included a sandwich, fries and a soda all for $16. We chose the Crispy Chicken Hero which was delicious. Hot and crispy chicken with fixin's on a house recipe bun. Here the Filipino flavours are noticeable in that the bun was close to pandesal but also close to Hawaiian bread also. Soft and perfect. They have this baked locally according to their own recipe. We chose OKO fries with came topped with Okonomi sauce and bonito flakes. Loved this too!
So Japanese, Filipino, Hawaiian and some Mexican added in for good measure, this truck is impressing us with their fusion cuisine.
Food                 4 1/2 out of 5
Comfort            Well it's a truck but there were a couple of picnic tables at this location.
Service             4 out of 5
Value                4 1/2 out of 5

Shameless Buns Gets Four Walls!

As of today, the subtle cheekiness and Filipino-inspired tasty eats of Shameless Buns will be available from their new forever home at 5772 Fraser Street in Vancouver! Don't panic though! The iconic and beautiful jeepney will still be out and about serving mostly the same treats! It's just that now you have 2 options!

We were invited to the media opening on Friday (Do you hear that you 8 or so people who read this blog! We are media! We are pertinent!) and treated to a couple of new menu items as well as some of the old favourites. The event was pleasantly chaotic when we were there with a DJ and a lot of other social media people that I don't know personally but probably follow somewhere.
The new restaurant will probably seat 16 to 20 people when the DJ is gone, including a window seating bar. If you look closely at the photo above, you can see our hosts (and owners) Corvette and Matt, in a photo on the back of a young fellow's t-shirt in the wall mural!
We started by trying a couple of their new items. This is a variation on elote and who doesn't love Mexican street corn? Called the Corny Pinoy, this boasted the addition of salted egg and chicharron to give it a Filipino twist. To my mind, salted egg yolk is one of the greatest unsung heroes of Asian ingredients and it is a wonderful addition here.
Next up was the new embudito sandwich called, Tita's Meatloaf. I'll admit that I should have paid more attention here but we just greedily wolfed it down as it was so good! Filipino meatloaf might typically have, in addition to ground pork and shredded veggies, raisins, sausage and boiled egg but alas...didn't pay enough attention. Served on really good pandesal which is the slightly sweet Filipino bread, it is finished with shallots and garlic calamansi aioli! Very nice!
These guys have always done great things with fries. This is the Sauage Party, a standard on their menu but something we have not tried. Sinigang is a citrusy (tamarind) salty Filipino spice mixture that gives this its distinctive taste. With lots of chunks of longaniza sausage, fried garlic, more aioli and a "sexy fried egg" this is another winner. 
My wife sold ice candy as a little girl in the Philippines! Ice Candy is the creamy Filipino version of a popsicle but so much more! One of these is red bean and coconut flavoured while the other is the Filipino favourite halo-halo flavoured. They are a very tasty and rich ending to a lovely meal. You might guess that I struggled a bit to get this photo (because the one I am posting is not great) but maybe if I had a real camera like most of the real media people! 
It's hard to believe that it has only been a little over 2 years since Shameless Buns burst onto the scene! With their own line of Filipino-style sauces, a berth in "The Ultimate Spam Cookbook" (btw, my Dad is fond of saying that they used to dream of having Spam on the table. All they could afford was Prem!) and the Filipino forward market events that they have organized, these guys are a force for Filipino-Canadian interests. We wish them continued success but a part of me already wants to ask; What's next?
Food               5 out of 5
Comfort          5 out of 5
Service           5 out of 5
Value              5 out of 5

Spring Garden Chinese Seafood Restaurant

Does it seem like we haven't been for dim sum in forever? The correct answer is 7 and 1/2 months but it feels like longer. Since we are dedicated dim sum fanatics, the reason for this dry spell is the on-again-off-again nature of the restaurant business these days. We have done our best to support local places but often this has been in the form of take-out. We were happy to find Spring Garden Chinese Seafood Restaurant in New Westminster and we were thankful that we landed here.

Located just about 5 blocks down the hill on 12th after Kingsway has disappeared, this is also the area where I discovered falafel several decades ago. Well, I didn't discover it like a new element on the periodic table but I tried it for the first time around here. We wandered into Spring Garden just before noon and were seated right away and served tea by an enthusiastic young fellow and what I assumed was his mother.
We set about ordering too much, as usual, starting with Pan-Fried Crispy Bean Curd Wrap with Mushrooms. This was pleasantly crispy, as advertised and filled with a comforting mushroom melange. A little different from anything that we have had before but it's not like we're experts. We would order this again.
We have come to very much enjoy chickens' feet (Chicken Claws with Special Sauce here) and these were meltingly tender. The sauce was tomatoey and mildly spicy and very good. These rate highly in our experience.
The Deep Fried Squid was a tad on the too chewy side but they arrived hot and with lots of garlic and chillies. 
Next were Deep Fried Tofu and Shrimp Pastries. There was nothing wrong with these. The filling was a comforting tasty enough mix with a crispy exterior. They were not standouts in the unique flavour category but they were nice enough. 
Next was our off-the-beaten path item to order. Deep-Fried Halibut Belly in Premium Soy Sauce. I have to admit that I would not recognize premium soy sauce but it was rich as were the nicely cooked onions and ginger. I am always enthusiastic about halibut and at $11.99 this was very reasonably priced.
Finally, back to the stuff that we always order, Rice Roll with Chinese Donut. I admit that I am kind of more interested in the dips than the rice roll (Hoisin and sesame) but the Chinese donut holds some appeal too. We have had mixed results with donuts in the past but these were quite good. Just another comforting dish.
This is not an overly fancy place but it seems well maintained despite being an older building, and it was very clean. It seems to be family-run and with efficiency and friendliness. This borders on a hidden gem except it might not have been hidden to everyone else. A reasonably priced and probably reliable place for dim sum!
Food                     3 1/2 out of 5
Service                 4 1/2 out of 5
Comfort                3 1/2 out of 5
Value                    4 1/2 out of 5

Spring Garden Chinese 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...