Jollibee - Vancouver

So Vegruary is ending a couple of days early for me. I had already intended to temporarily suspend my plant-based adventures as I have animal products in my freezer (from a couple of months ago) and it would be disrespectful to waste them. So for at least as long as it takes, I will be going back to the weekday vegetarian thing and then, we'll see after that. The other reason that I am swerving from the righteous path is that the opening that my Filipino friends and family have been waiting for, for so long, is finally happening. That's right, Jollibee on Granville is finally opening its doors. No one here is a stranger to Jollibee.  Personally, I stumbled across Jollibee in Tukwilla, Washington, many years ago, before I really knew any Filipino folks and just had to try the food as their mascot was a big smiling bee! Of course, anyone who has been to the Philippines will tell you that the original fried chicken is superior to the North American product, but we will see. Anyway, the lineups have been reportedly been as long as 4 hours this first weekend but since we were known to drive to Tukwila and back just for chicken, this doesn't seem so bad.

Anyway, my way around the 4-hour lineup was bribing Mharie's kids to stand in line for us. Sure enough, the line stretched from the mid-block restaurant all the way to Robson, then all the way to Howe Street and from there, all the way to Chipotle's! Seems like a long time to wait for fried chicken but a lot of these folks are pretty passionate about a taste of home, even if it is a fast food taste of home! Another option would be to wait a couple of weeks until the crowd dies down! Maybe everyone else wanted to be the first blogger to post this weekend!
If you're going to wait in line for 4 hours (or pay someone else to do it), it's important to max out your order (in fact Jollibee has limits on what you can walk out with this weekend), so that's what we did.
The star of the show at JB is fried chicken and it is really good fried chicken. Today's was crispy yet very moist inside and I have never had it otherwise. I don't know how it would stack up side by side against all the other world's greatest but I know a lot of experts are crazy for it. My Vancouver favourite up until now (and maybe still) is another Filipino-influenced place across town, Win-Win Chick'N. The spaghetti is another Jollibee favourite and available as a side but be aware that Filipino spaghetti means a sweetish sauce, cheddar and slices of weiner. I know, I know but it kind of grows on you. Don't tell my Italian friends.
Palabok is a bit more of a traditional Filipino dish. Made with thin rice noodles and a garlicky combination of pork, shrimp, chicharron and egg. This is a pretty good taste of the Philippines and one of my favourites here.
I've never had a hamburger here and this one was just OK but leaning towards meh. Fries are OK and the gravy is pretty good, Don't line up for 4 hours here for the burgers. 
Finally, we tried their Mango Peach Pie and I have to say that this was pretty spectacular. I haven't had a McDonald's pie in at least a couple of decades but I don't remember them being this good. The crust on this was delightfully crispy and there was lots of tasty filling. This was another star on their menu for me. So early signs point to yes. In a few weeks, when the crowds die down. you will be able to dine in, but for the moment, it is take-out only.
BTW, in Seattle and the Philippines, their chicken is called Chicken Joy but in Canada, it is called Jolly Chicken. I'm not suggesting that there is any conspiracy here!
Food                  3 1/2 out of 5
Comfort             NA
Service              NA
Value                 3 1/2 out of 5      

Nhan Plant-Based Vietnamese (more plant-based eats)

I have mixed feelings about the Daily Hive Dished food website. On the one hand, most of my information about new restaurants (like Nhan Plant-Based Vietnamese) comes from their posts. On the other hand, they post profoundly stupid things like "We Matched Zodiac Signs To Their Most Fitting Bevvies." Really? Anyway, while I've been obsessed with our Plant Curious Coupons Book, we've noticed some new vegan/vegetarian places popping up along the way and wanted to find out what they offered as well (too new to be included in the coupon book).

For Nhan Plant-Based Vietnamese, pick up is at the Granville Room (nothing to see here, folks). Ordering is convenient on their well-functioning website and our order was ready within 10 minutes of our pick up time (we may have been their first order of the day).
We ordered their Spring Rolls which turned out to be a very good place to start. Even after their trip to Aldergrove, they were crispy and tasty. The filling included mushrooms and tofu and was quite 'meaty'. I'm not sure where the vegan fish sauce comes from (we are looking for a bottle) but it was a very convincing substitute for the real thing.
The Banana Blossom Salad might have been the most intriguing thing on the menu. I guess I was thinking in terms of something like zucchini blossoms but that is not what this is. To be honest, there were a couple of things on the salad that could have been the blossoms (ingredients that I did not fully identify) and both were tasty and added texture and flavour to the salad. Not surprisingly, neither tasted like banana. More vegan fish sauce rounded this out. This is a must-order from their menu.
Had to try their Pho, of course. This was a pretty good version of vegan pho. The broth was quite good (Pho broth is always on the light side) with a subtle 5 spice flavour. There was tofu, what we assume is seitan, shitake and some of the usual good stuff that made this a decent bowl of pho that could stand up any day next to the chicken-based versions!
The Green Coconut Curry was mild but definitely hit the spot. Taro, tofu and squash formed the substance of the dish and we chose rice (options include noodles) as our carb. This was a very nice dish and we did not miss the meat as protein (nor do we usually so sort of a stupid comment).
Finally, and actually or favourite, the Bun Bo Hue. Since the vegan version does not include pork blood this might end up being more popular as a plant-based dish than the original. The broth is rich and just a bit spicy while the substance includes mushrooms, bok choy, seitan and tofu. This is not the first appearance of seitian on this menu and we are Impressed by that! This was a rich and tasty noodle soup that we would order again!
We can't comment on service or comfort of course, but we look forward to Nhan finding a place with a few tables if that is their goal. In the meantime, the addition of a plant-based eats joint is always welcome and this one offers some very tasty choices.
Food             4 out of 5
Comfort         NA
Service          NA
Value             4 out of 5

Imposter Cafe & Provisions (more plant-based eats)

One of my big concerns when I decided to continue my plant-based diet adventure indefinitely (if not permanently just yet) was about running out of places to blog about! It turns out though that even just since the beginning of this year, 3 new vegan/vegetarian restaurants have popped up! My list seems to be getting longer rather than shorter! The first one to open up that we were aware of was Imposter Cafe and  Provisions on East Hastings near Nanaimo. They are so new that they have not sorted their front signage so you will need the address!

A little power washing and a few letters and they will be good to go! We walked in on a Sunday morning, walked up to the counter and placed our order. They have a nice selection of coffee drinks and baked items if you just want to stop for a treat.
We ordered off the regular menu starting with an Open Face Half Bagel Sandwich with Avacado, Tomato, Garlic Confit and Hemp Hearts.
Rather than parsley, IC must have gotten a line on good pea shoots because they were everywhere. That's OK because they were very crunchy and fresh. The tomatoes were very juicy and tasty, the avocado was rich without being overwhelming and we got a couple of good chunks of just tender and mild garlic. Even by itself, this would be a nice way to start your morning.
IC had a couple of daily soups including French Onion. I imagined the bread and melty cheese but this did not come with that particular topping. What we got was deeply and slowly caramelized onions, the result of great patience, that were sweet and rich and made into a delicious soup. We would order that again, in a second!
We had a Buffalo Kale Salad and I learned something! My wife really enjoys raw kale which I would not have guessed. So I guess we'll be eating more of that at home. The Buffalo part of the salad was cashews which featured the hot sauce (not particularly spicy) and a pretty decent ranch-style dressing. The menu describes fried capers but I was not aware of any of that (i could have missed it). 
I like paninis. I haven't had them all that often and I'm not sure why that is but at IC they make their own focaccia and that seemed like a good enough reason to try one. Also, their Roasted Vegetable and Smoked Gouda Panini featured a vegan cheese that I had not tried. They assured me that they were aiming for the whole melty cheese thing but although the cheese was very good, the melty thing did not really happen. It was still a really good sandwich and the bread was excellent!
Finally, we tried their Croissant Bread Pudding. This was a savoury bread pudding with Beyond Sausage although we were not really aware of its presence. That doesn't mean it wasn't there but a couple of nice chunks might have added to the experience. This was actually a bit dense pudding and I'm not sure how you avoid that. The presence of beyond egg which is a pretty good product was not the solution. The red onion jam on top was pretty spectacular however and made it all work. They also gave us a little taste of their house-made cream cheese which was also very good. To be honest, we would not order this one item again.
Prices are pretty reasonable here and portions are generous enough that we ended up taking quite a lot home. These folks are friendly and accomodating and the service was quite good. There are quite a few tables around the perimeter (can't see them in my picture but they are there) and they are a little rustic but nicely comfortable. They also have quite a few vegan products for sale including Say Hello Ice Cream that we recently experienced for the first time. That would be the "provisions" part of Imposter Cafe & Provisions! It's great to have another middle of road vegan cafe that is reasonably priced and where you can get a nice lunch or baked treat without being concerned about animal welfare.
Food                      3 out of 5
Comfort                 3 out of 5
Service                  3 1/2 out of 5
Value                     4 out of 5

Say Hello - Greater Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival (more plant-based eats)

Looking to discover new plant-based eats using our 2022 Plants Curious Deals Book, brought us to Say Hello and a chance to catch the last of the Greater Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival! Located on the edge of Chinatown at the corner of Quebec and Keefer, Say Hello has been serving plant-based ice cream and treats since 2016. Check their website for the interesting story of how they got started!

Of course, we were drawn by our coupon book but stayed for the hot chocolate! Needless to say, hot chocolate is typically a beverage with milk and maybe even milk chocolate but at Say Hello, the featured hot chocolate is made with oat milk.
It was a wonderful rich beverage using 70% dark chocolate offset by a cold and creamy topping. It came with a chocolate covered fig which was also very tasty. At $12 this was not the cheapest hot chocolate we have ever had but in all fairness, the ingredients are premium and the fig is probably $3 or $4 as a hand-crafted side treat.
The ice cream sandwiches here are pretty special. The shell (cookie?) of the Raspberry -Lemon Ice Cream Sandwich was almost like a slab of icing while the cookie (shell?) of the Coffee Ice Cream Sandwich was a little more cake-like and easier to handle. Both were rich and tasty with the ice cream obviously coconut-based. I hope you like coconut as the same was true of their ice cream cubes. 
We got a couple of these to go and they made it home OK as we had an insulated grocery bag with us.
As someone who switched from ice cream to sorbet at the beginning of my vegan adventure, for my weekend treat, I can tell you that this is delicious. The texture of their ice cream is as rich and creamy as you might expect from a dairy product. To be fair, my wife holds an opposing view (she is not a huge fan) but she has not weaned herself off of the non-vegan stuff. No, it is not inexpensive at $12 for a half litre but again, very good quality ingredients and I am saving a lot of money not buying beef these days! The Lemon Squeezy was tart and refreshing while the Monkey's Uncle was rich with banana and walnut. Very good! We found the staff to be very friendly and accomodating.
Food                 4 out of 5
Comfort            4 out of 5
Service             4 out of 5
Value                3 1/2 out of 5

Cider House - La Poutine Week (more plant based eats)

Well, here's a cool thing! It turns out there is another Vancouver restaurant (like the Meet group of restaurants) that serves a plant-based menu without drawing a lot of attention to it! If it weren't for our copy of the Plant Curious Deals Book, I would not have never have realized and we would not have had the opportunity to try another La Poutine Week entry. Cider House is located just a couple of blocks from Kits Beach Park on Yew Street. We had ordered for take-out and had planned to enjoy our lunch in the park but CH has some outside seating so that's where we ended up.

We started with the Roasted Mushroom Poutine which is their feature for La Poutine Week. It seems humorous to me that La Poutine Week is sponsored by dairy giant Saputo and yet the two poutines that we have tried so far contained no dairy products at all!
This dish was basically indistinguishable from the regular meat gravy and dairy cheese poutine that we are used to. That's not really important to us but it might be to many people. The fries were quite excellent, crispy and hot while the gravy was particularly meaty and the cheese melty. A few mushrooms and caramelized and green onions just bumped it up a notch. Very good!
It's pretty impressive that one of the great meat replacements from nature is actually a fruit. It has a texture that is just firm and a subtle enough flavour so that it can provide the palate for whatever Mexican (or Asian or Barbeque or whatever) seasoning that you want to be the basis and substance of your dish (in this case tacos). These were pretty good tacos just in comparison to other tacos without even considering the plant-based thing. Decent tortillas with pico, queso, red cabbage and pickled onions (we ordered guac on the side) made us happy!
Finally, we tried their Fish and Chips (we sort of ate a lot of French fries, didn't we?). This was made with hearts of palm. Again, the texture of the hearts of palm was pretty good. The appeal of fish and chips is really the fact that it's deep-fried, isn't it? The batter and cooking oil used added up to an old Brish fish and chip house feel and taste and we thought it was pretty good. Really good tartar sauce also.
Of course, CH has indoor seating but how could we on a beautiful Saturday afternoon? Our server was certainly personable and shared our enthusiasm for the vegan menu. For most people the real attraction here is the host of local ciders that they have on tap but we will leave that to others to review. We can say that the menu would be a perfect foil for a good cider. Again we were able to use our Plant Curious Deals Book for half off of one of our entrees.  We love this thing and will continue to discover new places and re-discover old favourites.
Food              4 out of 5
Comfort         4 out of 5
Service          4 1/2 out of 5
Value             4 out of 5 

Grounds and Greens (and still eating plant based)

We were excited to get our copy of the 2022 Plant Curious Deals Book. Since we had visited at least half of the establishments in the book we now had a reason (did we really need one?) to revisit some of our favourites starting with Grounds and Greens in White Rock. We first visited them in June of 2020 when they (and the pandemic) were just really getting started. You can read about our first visit here.  Now, G and G is really a going concern having a proven track record as an amazing plant-based eats cafe!

It was busy just after noon on Sunday and we were able to get a table outside but then we were moved inside before things got too far along so that was nice (it was still just a bit chilly outside).
We haven't had an Egg McMuffin in years so finding a vegan version of a breakfast sandwich was a treat. They call it Eggsuisite and it was truly impressive! Just Egg is an amazing egg substitute that we had not tried before. It was pretty well indistinguishable from the chicken version (of the egg) and far superior to the usual fast food yellow hockey puck. All this and melty plant-based cheese, avocado and tomatoes. We loved it!
Mharie chose Rice, Rice, Baby from the bowls menu and yes there is rice somewhere under there! The crispy tofu is topped with a spicy peanut and sesame sauce that was really tasty. Beyond that, you're getting some of your veggies and some nice cold mango chunks. I am not sure how they make the carrot 'threads' so long! 
We also had Return of the Mac. I kind of like the cavatappi pasta better than macaroni as the longer pieces are easier to wrangle, plus they have a little more substance to them. Still, the cheese sauce with just a hint of truffle was the source of a fair bit of joy on my part! The roasted mushrooms and gremolata topping (lemon zest, parsley and garlic) made this a memorable vegan pasta dish.
We also shared a Cortado. We'd never had one before and it's not on the coffee menu but the website indicated that it is Mannel's (she of the chef/owner couple) favourite. We felt like we were ordering of a secret menu! And since we said we were going to share it, they actually brought it in 2 cups! How cool is that!
Ben (he of the chef/owner couple) was circulating and serving and entertaining his guests and the rest of the wait staff were equally friendly. Such a friendly place where you can feel at home! Get there soon though, before the pandemic is over and they are so busy that you always have to wait for a table! Again, we give Grounds and Greens our coveted, 5 out of 5!
Food              5 out of 5
Comfort         5 out of 5
Service          5 out of 5
Value             5 out of 5

Meet in Yaletown- La Poutine Week (and still eating plant-based!)

When I decided to keep up the vegan eating life for at least another month, I started to grow concerned that we would eventually run out of plant-based joints to visit and also that we would be missing out on festivals and Vanfoodster contests and special food weeks and so on (Oh my god, it's FOMO. We've been reduced to an acronym!). Then La Poutine Week came along and we found there was at least one plant-based featured dish in Metro-Vancouver!

Meet in Yaletown is on Mainland adjacent to the Yaletown-Roundhouse Transit Station. They don't take reservations but we eat at odd hours so that is not a huge problem for us but I feel like they could get lined up at peak hours. A reminder to diners not to linger endlessly as limited capacity means that it is harder for restaurants to make ends meet.
We ordered too much food as usual starting with the Oyster Mushroom Kalamari. It is served with Cucumber Dill Tzatziki. Actually, the Meet website never actually mentions the words plant-based or vegan and I should have known but I emailed them just to confirm (Tzatziki is usually made with yogurt). Apparently, they would like people just to love them for their food and not for their plant-based food! Yes, the tzatziki is vegan as is everything served here and this dish was delicious. I repeat my conjecture that a vegan joint must have a deep fryer!
Next came MiY's La Poutine Week entry, Tokyo Town Poutine. I'm not sure what Saputo gets out of this (La Poutine Week sponsor and dairy giant) but we loved it! Obviously, we will be voting for it as our favourite! Really good fries with caramelized jackfruit, housemade tonkatsu, soy mayo and toppings. This was rich and comforting and even Mharie who is not a huge poutine fan (neither am I for that matter....Canada's national food? I feel like we can do better) really enjoyed it!
We ordered a burger as one of our mains. An Angry Burg is a battered and deep-fried house hamburger patty dipped in hot sauce and topped with guac and ranch. I'm not sure why I didn't remove the giant piece of lettuce for the photo but you get the idea. To be honest, while this was really tasty and pleasantly messy, the deep-fried detail got lost. The crispy was totally overwhelmed by sauce etc. It came with more good fries and a nice little side salad.
Then a bowl was next. I have realized that following a plant-based diet means that there is very little hope of avoiding bowls. I guess that's not such a terrible thing. This was a Ginger Beef-less Bowl featuring soy curls that have been sauced up to taste a lot like your usual ginger beef but without killing anything. With brown rice and broccoli being the other foundation pieces, we both really enjoyed this.
We ended our meal with a Cronut! Actually, since we took a lot of poutine and bowl leftovers to go, this was only the end of our meal in the restaurant. It's the first time we've had a cronut and the coconutty cream filling and coarse sugar on the outside contributed to a good first experience. It wasn't really such a landmark experience like eating Indian food for the first time but it was pretty tasty.
The other fun thing about the cronut was that it marked our first use of the 2022 Plant Curious Deals Book. I haven't had a coupon book since the Entertainment Book days a couple of decades ago (or can you still get them?) but this one comes with a mission to get people trying vegan eats to see that they can be really great! Mharie and I have been to more than half the places but now we have an excuse to go back as well as try some new places. Well done Jordan and everyone at Plant Curious! Google it and get a book for yourself for only $39.99!
And well done to Meet in Yaletown. Our servers could not have been more hospitable and efficient. The place is chic and comfortable enough. We sat in the outside covered patio where it was a little cooler but still alright. Honestly, if you were not vegan and didn't realize, I'm sure you would never miss your meat and that is the whole point!
Food                  4 out of 5
Comfort             4 out of 5
Service              4 out of 5
Value                 4 out of 5

Noodle Box - Veganuary 2022

Yes, I know this is essentially another fast food place but frankly, I like Noodle Box and I'm not sure why we don't eat there more often. They have vegan options for quite a few menu items which come in the form of choosing tofu over chicken and not in the form of pretend meat. I think that overall, I prefer that. That being said, you need to order carefully as I inadvertently failed to order vegan when I thought that I was doing so.

In Langley, Noodlebox is in City Square, a strip mall across the bypass from Willowbrook Mall. I downloaded the app and ordered online for pick-up. There was a very knowledgeable counter person who helped me understand where my order was not vegan despite my intentions.
We had a Vegetable Samosa which would qualify as vegan except that the fryer oil in the restaurant is used for meat items also. So technically,...not vegan. Pretty tasty though but a little expensive at $3 if you're used to getting your samosa at Indian joints.
The Burmese Naan also doesn't qualify as vegan as it is not made in-house and they don't have a what ingredients list. Most naan is made with milk and/or eggs so vegan is not likely. Again, still pretty tasty.
The Cambodian Jungle Curry was my one successful vegan order. I chose tofu as my protein and the recommended rice noodles. It was a pretty generous bowl and had just a nice touch of heat with mild curry flavour (you chose the heat level). Sort of a gooey mess in the take-out form but we didn't mind.
My fail was ordering the Spicy Peanut Noodle Box with the recommended ribbon noodles (I could have chosen other noodles) which have egg in the pasta. Again this was nice and peanut with just a little heat but we found that the noodles were a bit overcooked. Again, this could have been a symptom of takeout. It might be better overall to dine in at NB.
Finally, We ordered a Crispy Shanghai Chicken Box (not even trying to go vegan on this one). My wife has been a good sport about Veganuary even though it is not really her thing (and she just found out that I am going vegan in February also) so I ordered this for her and did not participate in eating it! It looked good and she finished it so it couldn't have been too bad!
Bowls probably average about $15 once you have added your protein but they are large and filling. There is a dining area in the Langley restaurant which is kind of rustic looking and inviting. As mentioned before, the counter person definitely knew her stuff (maybe the manager?) and that was nice.
A decent choice for vegans!
Food             3 out of 5
Comfort        3 out of 5
Service         4 out of 5
Value            3 1/2 out of 5

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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...