Between 2 Buns

A pretty good place for a pre-hockey game meal (this was about the last game before the latest COVID break) is just around the corner from Rogers in Chinatown. Between 2 Buns is located in the space that was previously Bestie, that we always intended to visit. We arrived a couple of hours before the game on Sunday evening and after a short wait, placed our order and paid our tab first then sat down at a booth to await our eats.

The menu is not long but if you like smash burgers, you are in the right place. So we ordered a couple and some side stuff.
First to arrive where the Dirty Onions Rings. Topped with jalapenos, beef, bacon and B2B sauce (a variation on ranch with chipotle?), these were crispy and excellent onion rings.
Really good fries came next. These feature some kind of coating that gives them a little more crispiness.
Of course, the main event was still to come. First up is a Bacon Cheese Burger. A wonderful crispy around the edges smash patty on a squishy excellent bun. The two go together as the start of a pleasantly greasy burger drowned in American cheese and bacon. Wonderful!
The Double Cheese Burger was also impressive and satisfying! Two amazing smashed patties and lots of cheese on that same wonderful bun. This is our last post before the start of Veganuary and I certainly don't expect to be craving beef before the end of that month thanks to B2B!
B2B is the definition of casual. Sweat pants on some of the staff was the giveaway on that. They were still friendly and efficient. The seating is pretty comfortable and our food arrived quickly. A nice informal little place to get a really decent burger and fries and you should check out their IG for specials  Not good for a pre-marathon meal but decent before a Canucks game!
Food                   4 out of 5
Comfort              4 out of 5
Service               4 out of 5
Value                  4 out of 5

Century Plaza, Vancouver, BC

Staycations are definitely a thing these days. I often see blog posts about staycations featuring Vancouver hotels but they are usually the pricey high-end hotels that charge extra for wifi and $40 for parking and that's fine for once in a while. Our little go-to place (which is not so little) often gets ignored. Mharie and I live in Aldergrove which is not so far out in the country but we like a change of scenery and driving to Vancouver and back (or more often transitting) for one event or meal is sort of a pain. As a result, our staycations combine convenience and the desire for a place to take an afternoon kip between lunch and dinner or museum or hockey game. We are also not keen on shelling out top dollars just for the stay-in-town convenience. Of all the places that we have stayed, Century Plaza has become our favourite.Sure CP does not boast valet parking and is really not the place where the movie stars stay, but what it offers at a reasonable price makes it pretty impressive. Built in 1972, it might have been one of the top hotels in town at the time and the lobby and public spaces reflect it.

It is still a lovely hotel with top-notch and friendly staff. There is a fine-dining Italian restaurant and a cafe on the first floor. We have not gotten any further than breakfast at either of them but did not find them anything but very good.
The elevators are one of my favourite features of this place. 1972 elevators are a little slower and creakier than the latest models. We have timed our trip up at a rate of one second per floor.
Rooms are not uncomfortable with pillowtop mattresses and very nice bedding. The wifi is not terrible and the TVs offer every channel on the Telus schedule.
There was a little kitchenette in this room but we have been in rooms with full kitchens. Decent coffee, microwave, fridge and enough cutlery and plates for our leftovers and a few tabletop food pics when we get take out. The bathrooms are decent and there are even robes.
We usually end up somewhere between the 22nd and 26th floor which comes with a nice view of English Bay or Burrard Street depending on which side you are on.
And of course, we are not a long walk from anything downtown including Sunset Beach and our now famous barge.
We usually pay just over $100 a night using Hotwire and parking is only $20. That is quite a bargain for downtown Vancouver. A little worn around the edges but charming enough, Century Plaza has become our go-to when we decide not to do the drive back and forth from Aldergrove and want a little change of scenery for our morning walks.

Food Hall By Zubu

There are four Zubu Ramen restaurants in Metro Vancouver but only the Olympic Village location has the distinction of being called a 'food hall'. The Food Hall even seems to occupy a unique location on their website, separate from the other three locations. I'm not quite sure why that is and I hope they don't feel excluded!

Not found right in the tourist zone, but at 159 West 4th, Food Hall by Zubu is only open Monday to Friday (which has frustrated me for some time) and clearly caters to a different clientele starting with lunchtime for the folks who work nearby. They are open until 8:30 Monday to Thursday but only until 2:00 on Friday. That is the most time that I have ever spent on restaurant opening hours for this blog.
They have a few small items on a $5 menu. I always like this as it means we can try more items like the Crispy Shrimp. These were salty and completely crunchable, shell and all!. Accompanied by sesame seeds and crispy wontons bits, this was $5 well spent!

Also off the $5 menu, we tried Ajitama Potato Salad which enjoyed the bright flavour of pickled radish and white pepper mayonnaise among other things. Very nice and unique!
Of course, we came for the soup, starting with the Tonkatsu Ramen (the egg was an extra but you gotta have it). It had everything we love from black garlic to wood ear mushrooms and nice thin noodles. The broth was rich and we both gave it thumbs up!
We have become partial to Mazesoba as well. We liked the thicker noodles and the multiple tasty bits including wood ear mushrooms again, sansho oil (sansho is a pepper related to Szechuan peppers), chashu, etc. that all mixed into a complex whole dish.
Another surprisingly great dish was the Carmelized Cauliflower and Broccoli from the Small Plates part of the menu. Cashews, garlic and obviously carrots rounded out this salty tasty dish that made us feel we were making a dent in our vegetable requirements for the day. Highly recommended!
The cavernous (in a good way) nature of this place makes the name Food Hall seem appropriate. We were pretty comfortable on bar stools and gig communal tables and the decor was kind of chic all round. The folks working here were friendly and the food showed up in decent time. There are a few more things on the menu such as the Japanese curries that we would like to try.  If you're around during the week, this place is definitely worth a visit!
Food                4 out of 5
Comfort           4 out of 5
Service            4 out of 5
Value               4 out of 5


Taco Nori Sushi Tacos

OK, so I didn't realize this was a take-out only place. I guess I should read more carefully. My first real clue was looking for the front door. I thought that maybe we were arriving at a rave.

As soon as I figured out that a table for 2 was not going to be available (ever), I got on my phone and placed an order which did not take too long (maybe 20 minutes). They were good enough to bring our order out to our car as we waited across the street in a no-parking zone. You could be smarter than me and order on line and get a time to pick up at 118 West 6th!
It doesn't get any more basic than an order of chips although in this case, they are Nori Chips. These crispy seaweed chips are coated in tempura batter and some Cajun seasonings. Pretty basic but we liked them!
We ordered a side dish of Chicken Karaage because, well we always do. Not bad as Karaage goes and served with a nice dipping sauce.
The main event here of course is tacos. We ordered a few including 1 Salmon Nori Taco, 1 Tuna and 1 California Nori Taco. The fish was quite good as you would expect from sushi-grade product. Sushi rice with their soy sauce mix,  sesame seeds and cucumber rounded out the first 2 while the CR taco had the traditional CR ingredients. We thought that these were all pretty good. The shells are great being just a bit crunchy with the familiar seaweed flavour.
I liked the idea of the Aburi Salmon Nori Taco. Of course, I like anything with massago as well. I feel like overall this was a success but to be honest the salmon sort of got lost in the whole. It feels like, at least in this case, Aburi Salmon should remain nigiri and not taco.
We certainly had no complaints about the Chicken Karaage Nori Taco. This was the same tasty chicken as above but with the nice shell and sauce.
So overall, we like the sushi taco concept. The ingredients are roughly the same as nigiri, just arranged differently. No one is suggesting that it should replace nigiri it is just different. Maybe the ingredients don't stand on their own as well and end up being more of a melange. That's not a bad thing. If I sound like I'm trying to convince myself of something then that is probably true. Taco Nori Sushi Tacos is unique in what they offer and we enjoyed it well enough. You should try it and decide for yourself. Just don't go expecting to dine in!
Food                 3 1/2 out of 5
Comfort            NA
Service             4 out of 5
Value                3 1/2 out of 5

Jingle Bao

We love dim sum. We love the simple dim sum that comes from Mom and Pop type restaurants in low-rent buildings or from food courts. We love the high-end stuff from Chef Tony or Sun Sui Wah. Now we love the creative, bordering on fusion dim sum which comes from Jingle Bao on Denman near Robson.

We arrived Sunday morning before noon and were seated right away. I couldn't say exactly what the seating capacity is here (30ish?) but if you are going during prime hours, I would suggest you try making a reservation.
Even without asking, it was obvious that they make their own dumplings in house!
It was a chilly morning and we felt the need for soup to get over that. We started with their House Special Beef Noodle Soup which was pretty spectacular! There was a ton of very tender beef and a nice little serving of broccoli. The noodles and the broth were also really good. Sorry to sound so surprised but we didn't come here just for soup and didn't expect to be so impressed!
So soup dumplings are kind of the main attraction. They make a colourful assortment (no artificial colouring) which each come in their own flavours from veggie to spicy to garlic and all were very good! Also available in big ass size which really would be a big bowl of soup as near as I can imagine.
It's more than a little convenient that each bao comes on its own little swing CW with a carrot base. The carrot stops the bao from sticking and the holder means you can get it to your mouth without tearing it even if you are a xiao long bao amateur. Tasty soup, delicate noodle, interesting fillings. Impressive!
One cannot live on bao alone so we ordered Deep-fried Garlic Squid. It came with a ton of garlic and chilli and was just nicely cooked. Not too chewy with just a hint of crispy!
Finally, Chicken Feet and Sticky Rice. I am content that they don't hide the chicken feet as phoenix talons or whatever. They were some of the best we've had, being very tender and with a nice sauce.
Tasty rice with lots of mushrooms, chicken etc.
This is a comfy place with friendly and efficient service. There are a lot more things on the menu that we would like to have tried. It wasn't overly expensive (especially given the location and maybe tourist trade) for what you got. Don't hesitate to give them a try.
Food             4 out of 5
Comfort        4 out of 5
Service         4 out of 5
Value            4 out of 5

Mary's on Davie

Mharie and I are keen on diner fare and have wanted to try Mary's on Davie for some time.  Mary's is one of those iconic places that has been around forever at the cultural centre of Davie Village. We finally made it early on a Saturday evening and were seated right away. I have the feeling that this place gets rolling and entertaining as the evening moves along but sadly we missed most of that. We still enjoyed its "festive" decor and a soundtrack that I would call Donna Summer's MacArthur Park adjacent! It felt like a party even before everyone arrived!

Supply chain issues meant that we were not able to try their Deep Fried Pickles but that seemed to be the only interruption to the regular menu.
I had been craving a burger for a couple of days and the Mary's Burger with bacon hit the spot. This was actually a very good burger with a decent bun and nicely dressed. I would order it again for sure. The onion rings on the side were also really good and were served with a sort of tartar sauce.  They were nicely crisp and saltyand the onion was just cooked. The burger usually comes with fries so we paid a couple of extra bucks to substitute the o rings.
Mharie had the Chicken and Waffles. MD serves quite a few breakfasts (like this one) all day and others just for part of the day. It came with a small mountain of very nice hash browns. The chicken itself was brilliantly moist and tender with a crispy crust. The waffles were also pretty good. On top was a slice of compound butter with chipotle. The butter could have been a little softer and meltier as it was a little on the too solid side. Still, overall this was another winner. 
Of course,  there are a lot of tempting desserts to be had also but we failed to leave room. Our server was friendly and funny and the kitchen was on top of things. We're not drinkers but the bar here seems pretty well stocked and would be a great place to hang out. According to their website, Mary's is a place where everyone is a little bit Mary!
Food               4 out of 5
Comfort          4 1/2 out of 5
Service           4 1/2 out of 5
Value              4 out of 5

Casereccio Foods Ltd

While we seem lately to be eating a lot of katsu and ramen and dosa, it doesn't mean that we don't love great Italian food. So we made the trip out to Kits to try this Vanfoodster recommended pasta and Italian specialty cafe and eatery.

Casereccio (made at home) opens at 8 am every morning and serves wonderful pastries and very good coffee, perfect to start any morning. The homey atmosphere makes it a place where I would choose to linger and enjoy a book. Unfortunately, only so many people can linger as the lunch people start to show (including us). We placed our order and waited on a bench provided. Happily, a lady noticed us and cut short her linger so that we could use a table. Maybe consider getting your order to go (or be prepared to eat outside where it was quite chilly the Saturday that we were there)
We ordered a couple of pasta dishes (you choose sauce and pasta) starting with Porcini Cream Sauce and Butternut Squash Ravioli. Mharie declared this the best pasta that we have ever had and I think she may be right. There were big chunks of porcini which is a distinctly flavorful and meaty mushroom and there was lots of grated cheese. The ravioli itself, house-made like almost everything else, was cooked to a perfect al dente and paired wonderfully.
I tend to judge an Italian joint by their bolognese and at Casereccio their Lasagne Bolognese was also a real treat. We found ourselves carefully scrapping the empty dish to get every bit of baked on cheese and sauce. Very good!
We got ourselves some cannoli for dessert at home later. They come in Sheep's milk ricotta, pastry cream and chocolate. The shells were nicely crispy and the fillings rich and tasty.
We also got one of their calzones to go. This one had mortadella and I think provolone. It was not quite what I expected but it was tasty just the same. 
Also on the menu at Casereccio that we would have liked to try are arancini and a daily house risotto among other things. The pastas and sauces are the great attraction here though and we will be back to try some more. Prices are very reasonable at around $20. 
They seem to be a big family here and we found everyone to be enthusiastic and friendly. We were fortunate to meet Marie who is evidently the boss and matriarch and chief pasta maker! She made us feel welcome and we hope to meet her again.
Food                 4 1/2 out of 5
Comfort            3 1/2 out of 5
Service              4 out of 5
Value                 4 1/2 out of 5


Kawawa Ramen

Well, we didn't come for the view, although looking out the window from Kawawa Ramen into the underground Walmart parking lot at Guildford Mall, we were able to wager on which Surrey residents would run into each other (for the record, we always choose to park a little further away and walk since our legs aren't broken, thus avoiding the silly battle for the closest parking spot).

It wasn't too busy just before noon on Sunday and we were seated right away. Considering it is right in the mall, I would have expected a bit more foot traffic but the place never really did fill up.
They have a fairly extensive menu going beyond ramen if you look at their website. However, a lot of things (including all sushi) were not available. I got the feeling that it didn't have anything to do with supply chains but just the inconvenience of someone having to make sushi. Off the 'new items' menu, we tried their crispy Spring Rolls. These were crispy for sure but quite bland. Fortunately, they came with a sweet Thai chilli sauce.
They showed well on the Grilled Squid. It was tasty with whatever sauce they used (Mharie and I couldn't decide whether it was oyster or maybe hoisin). Just cooked enough to get that grilled taste while still staying tender. This was the best of the things that we tried.
We ordered their basic Original Ramen which came with one piece of decent chashu and the usual trimmings. To be honest, this was not an exciting bowl of soup. The noodles didn't do much for us and the broth was not amazing. I kind of liked the wooden spoons but also tended to dribble soup on myself with them.
Thanks to our recent chicken broth ramen experience at Marutama, I have been eager to try this at other places. The Fried Chicken Ramen did boast tasty fried chicken but the broth was again not amazing. I'm sorry but we have definitely had better ramen.
It's a nice little place and the staff were really decent folk but the soup just didn't move us to be offering a glowing recommendation. It was comfortable enough and a sharp-looking place (cool light fixtures). Maybe you could do OK here with a snack or a bento box.
Food                 2 1/2 out of 5
Comfort            3 out of 5
Service             3 1/2 out of 5
Value                2 1/2 out of 5

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...