Wednesday, September 17, 2014

New Novelty Sweets & Restaurant - $8.99 Buffet!

  Being the cash strapped student that I am, I *try* (often unsuccessfully) to limit myself to $10 a day for food LOL. Welll...unless someone else is footing the bill harharhar. Back in high school I use to be THE buffet queen. Now, not so much haha. Stuffing myself to the verge of vomiting isn't all too appealing to me anymore, I've matured ;)  Butt I just couldn't pass this one up. $8.99 for a buffet? Count me in!

Signature Dishes
  If you don't feel like eating in, you can opt for one takeout item from their buffet for $5.49 (lunch) and $6.49 (for dinner!) The food in the buffet tasted surprisingly fresh, and was kept steaming hot for a long time.

They also have a separate sweets section up front so you can grab some desserts after lunch! :D

Service 4/5 stars
    Service was great! The guy serving me was really nice, he was smiling the whole time! When he saw that I was taking pictures he came over and suggested that I take a pic of the samosas in another angle LOL.

  I liked how he gave me my own pitcher of water, even though I don't drink fluids with my meals because it affects my digestion and makes me all bloated lmao

Ambiance - Casual
  The place is really small but pretty clean! They have a TV on the wall that plays reruns of indian soap operas to keep you entertained while you're noshing on your food! :D

Price - $
  New Novelty is probably the cheapest place for an Indian buffet I've come across in the GVR. If you opt for takeout, it's even cheaper. For the equivalent price of a food court meal, you gain access to a wide selection of food and unlimited refills!

Value - Great
  Taking into consideration how pricey it is to dine out in Vancouver, this place is a great deal! But if you really want to get your money's worth,  I would suggest loading up on the meat and skipping the carbs! :D

More Info!
6669 Fraser St Vancouver, BC 
(604) 326-1111

Butter Chicken
3.5/5 stars
  This was actually pretty tasty! I went back for the butter chicken multiple times lol! The sauce was really creamy, heavy on the butter and spices.  The chicken pieces were reasonbly tender and easy to chew.
Palak Paneer
2/5 stars
  Palak Paneer is basically pureed spinach, so its super healthy haha! The garam Masala flavour was very potent but the garlic flavour was a bit lacking. Consistency wise,  it was really thick and it's mushy texture made it really easy to eat lol
Chicken Masala 
2/5 stars
  Chicken Masala is bascially chickepea curry! This was mildly spicy and really watery. The chickpeas weren't mushy and still had a good crunch to them! 
Matar Paneer
2/5 stars
  This wasn't spicy at all but had quite a bit of flavour, in comparison to the chickepea Masala. The cheese was really soft, and slightly melted. The peas weren't as mushy as I was expecting.
1/5 stars
Paratha is bascially stuffed naan! This particular version was stuffed with a garlic paste. This had promise, but since it had been sitting in the buffet for so long it was already soggy!! Nobody wants soggy naan!! This definitely would have been better if it was fresh and crispy.
Basmati Rice
3.5/5 stars
  I ate heaps of this and kept going back for more hehe! The rice was super fluffy, fragrant and was actually salty! Since the other dishes were quite heavy - flavour wise the rice was needed to balance things out.
3.5/5 stars
  I really enjoyed this because it was freshly made! The edges were charred, crispy, with a slight smokey flavour.  The bread itself was really bouncy, and ripped apart effortlessly. He gave me two pieces but don't be shy about asking for more, it's a buffet after all! :)
3.5/5 stars
  Even if you don't eat at the buffet you can purchase their parokoras individually for $1 each! This was actually really spicy with ample amounts of potato filling. The exterior had a crust like texture and it was super crunchy! The thing was pretty huge and you could probably get full by eating 3 lol.
Vegetable Curry
3/5 stars
  This was the spicest dish out of everything that I tried (evident by the colour!) It had onions, cauliflower, carrots and potatoes in it but you couldn't distinguish between them because they all tasted the same haha.
Various Sauces
  They also had a condiment station with 4 different kinds of sauces that you can dip your naan and samosas in!
3/5 stars
  This was included in the buffet but they also sell this up front in their dessert section! This was really sweet, chewy in texture and tasted strongly of cardemon! Don't you just love the shape?
I didn't know what this was LOL but I liked it! 

The Verdict
If you're strapped for cash and craving Indian food, New Novelty is a great option in the Sunset area! Given the low price, even if you don't like it, you don't really have anything to lose! :)

New Novelty Sweet & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Gyoza Bar + Ramen!

  Hey guys! Sorry I didn't post yesterday, I wasn't feeling that well and didn't have the energy to type up a blog post! I hope you guys understand! Anyways, I'm glad to be back on the blogging grind after a 1 day hiatus LOL, let's hope there won't be any more disruptions! 

  The day before I went to Gyoza Bar + Ramen, Aburi group's (the same ppl who run Miku & Minami) much anticipated new ramen shop on Pender! Its just a few doors down from Cartems hehe so you can grab a donut for dessert afterwards! ;) They just opened last week so I was expecting a lineup, but when I went half of the restaurant was actually empty! I've been seeing pictures of Gyoza Bar all over instagram which was the reason I went LOL! 

Signature Dishes
  Gyoza Bar is the sister restaurant of Miku and Minami, famous for their aburi style sushi! As the name implies, Gyoza Bar + Ramen specializes in two dishes: gyoza and ramen! They're famous for their "teppan" style gyoza, which is basically gyoza presented on an iron skillet haha. Yes, it's kind of gimmicky, but hey, thats marketing for you! Their ramen noodles are supposedly made in house, which guaranteeds the freshness of their noodles!

Service 4.5/5 stars
    I was really impressed by the service. Walking in, the hostess greeted us with a huge smile on her face! After being seating, they fetched us some water and asked how we were doing. During our meal glasses were refilled and plates were cleared promptly. While we were eating they came around to ask us how we were enjoying our meal!

Ambiance - Casual
  This place is all about the industrial chic look...which is oh so trendy right now ;) Reclaimed wood, cement flooring, light bulb fixtures, pretty much hipster certified LOL. Even though the place is pretty snazzy looking I would still consider it as a quick, casual spot to grab lunch! The tables at the front are really well lit but the lighting in the back is really dim haha. So if you're on a romantic date you should probably sit in the back LOL.

Price - $$
  This place isn't cheap. But you're paying for the "name" sake and the ambiance. The food's good, but in my opinion, not reflective of the price tag. There are definitely way better options for ramen out there.

Value - Okay
  I'm not really sure if I see the value in what we ordered. $17 for a ramen + gyoza combo is pretty pricey imo! Most people don't have that kind of money to shell out for lunch on a daily basis. Based on value alone, I probably won't be making a return visit.

More Info!
622 W Pender St Vancouver, BC 
Click to Enlarge
Here's their drink menu!

Fraser Valley Pork Teppan Gyoza
3/5 stars
  As their name suggests, gyozas are their signature dish! You can order this separately but I got this in a combo! The small size comes with 7 pieces of gyoza ($8) and the large size comes with 15 ($16.)
 These ones came in a combo + ramen for $17. The gyozas were presented in a cool rounded teppan skillet and garnished with cilantro! The gyozas themselves stick together, so you do have to use your chopsticks to pry each piece off. I'm not sure if their gyozas are hand made or not, but for the price, I hope it is LOL! The skin was really thin, elastic, and chewy in texture. The pork filling was juicy, and tasted fresh. Was it worth the price tag? In my opinion, no. The gyozas by themeselves (without any added sauce) were pretty average, and I've definitely had better. 
Garlic Soy & Unami Soy Sauce
Unami Soy: 4/5 stars
Garlic Soy: 2/5 stars

  My favourite out of the two was definitely the unami soy! It was awesome! It definitely took the plain gyozas to another level! True to its name, the soy had a definite deep, rich unami profile without being overwhelmingly in your face. The garlic soy was alright, as the name suggests, it was very garlicky. I'm not a huge fan of garlic, so I definitely preferred the former option.
Here's a look at the filling of the gyozas! 

Tamari Shoyu Pork Tonkotsu - Small
3/5 stars
  This is their small size and I was still hungry after eating it LOL. The broth was really rich and the pork bone flavour was really potent, without being overwhelmingly salty. As for the noodles, they were cooked medium hard and al dente, but personally I thought the noodles weren't "bouncy" enough. In the end, even though I was satisfied, I still found the entire bowl to be a little underwelming. In comparison to other ramen places in the city, Gyoza Bar falls a little short. I definitely still prefer Santouka or Motomachi.
Char Siu
2/5 stars
The bowl of ramen only had 2 tiny slices of char siu, which was a bit disappointing. It was a little too lean for my liking, but that's all down to personal preference. It wasn't seasoned so it relied on the broth for extra flavour.
Doesn't this look like a pasta making machine? Haha
I really like their bathroom! The decor of this place is so on point LOL! The sinks are gender neutral and the stalls are labelled W/M. 
Hey, remember the creepy bathroom photo I took at Cartems? Here's another one LOL...which happens to be eerily similar! Love the contrast of the red brick to the clean white tiling!
They give you some mint chocolate at the end for dessert! I was actually allergic to this LOL...darn you modified milk ingredients!!

The Verdict
  The food didn't make that much of an impression on me if I'm being honest with you. Yes I enjoyed my meal. Yes the food was tasty. But considering the hype surrounding this place and the price tag, it just didn't live up to my expectations. I do have to commend them for their service though, keep up the great attitude Gyoza Bar!

Gyoza Bar + Ramen on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Pinpin Filipino Restuarant

  I've been looking forward to a trip to Pinpin's all week! Ever since I first tried filipino food last week, I've been itching to for the opportunity to eat it again!! Word around town is that pinpin is supposedly the "best" filipino restaurant in Vancouver! We went yesterday, on a saturday, and the place was packed! By the time we left there was already a huge lineup congregating outside! 

  We really enjoyed our meal at Pinpin and I'm a huge fan of filipino food now! If you guys have any other restaurant or dish recommendations, leave them for me down below! :D 

Signature Dishes
   Pinpin is known among the filipino community for delicious, authentic versions of filipino favourites like crispy para, lumpai shanghai, bopis and their halo halo! I was impressed with how diverse the menu was! There were so many different dishes to choose from! Being the noob I am, I stuck to the dishes that a reader recommended just to be safe haha!

Service 3/5 stars
    Service was prompt, the waitress took our order, and the dishes arrived in a timely manner. She was quick to fetch us extra plates, and boxes at our request.
  My grandma was particularly impressed by the fact that the waitresses wore hair nets and had their hair slicked back! She was also really pleased with how clean the washrooms were!

Ambiance - Casual
  PinPin is definitely a family oriented restaurant, evident by the fact that most people were dining with their families! Nothing fancy, just wholesome home cooked goodness.

Price - Affordable $
  We were impressed with the prices at PinPin, most of the dishes were around the $10 mark, with more expensive dishes going up to $15. In the end we ending up paying $38 before tips for our meal, which was a total steal in my opinion!

Value - Great
  This place is great value for the money! The portion sizes of all the dishes were all really large and definitely justified the price tag! You can easily order 3 dishes and have enough food for 3-4 people!

More Info!
6113 Fraser St Vancouver, BC 
Closed Mondays

I really like how they give each table their own individual pitcher of water!

Crispy Pata $12.95 for large
4/5 stars
  This dish comes in three sizes, small, medium and large! This is the large size and it was huge! We couldn't finish it and ended up packing a quarter of it home! It was delicious, the skin was super thick, crispy and had a great crunch to it! The skin crackles when you bite into it, similar to BBQ roast pork! It also came with a sweet vinegar dipping sauce! There was a sastisfying amount of palatable fat underneath the skin, which was moist and chewy.
Pork Sisig $11.50
3/5 stars
  This dish was recommended by a reader! You can get the sisig in different versions with tuna, squid,  and milkfish! I was expecting the dish to be stir fried, but it was actually comprised of deep fried pieces of pork! It was definitely unlike anything I've ever had before, the bit sized pieces were super crunchy and fun to eat! It was modestly seasoned in comparison to the other dishes and mostly tasted like oil (but not in a bad way). It came with a lemon on the side, which added an extra "zing" to the dish. The portion size was quite large and we ending up packing half of it home!
Bopis $9.95
4/5 stars
  This was probably the most memorable dish of the meal! I honestly didn't know what to expect, because the description on the menu was pretty vague "Combination of beef heart and lungs in brown sauce." I was pleasantly surprised! The pork lung and heart was chopped up into small pieces in a thick paste. The flavours of the dish were 2 dimensional, it was really heavy on the spices,with a with a strong underlying flavour of wine and vinegar.
Rice hehe!! This was $4.50! I was actually going to get their garlic fried rice, but since the dishes were already pretty salty, I wanted something plain to balance it out!

The Verdict
  We thoroughly enjoyed our meal at Pinpin and had so much fun trying out all the different dishes! Large portion sizes coupled with affordable pricing makes Pinpin a winner in the value department! I'll definitely be back Pinpin! :D

Pinpin on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Kingspark Good Food HK Cafe - Crystal Mall

  My grandma wasn't in the mood to cook dinner yesterday, so she suggested that we go to Crystal Mall for some takeout and I happily obliged! Kingspark is a stall I've been meaning to try out for the longest time (5 years lol) but never really got around to it, until yesterday! 

  We circled around the food court for 30 mins trying to decide what to eat and we finally settled on Kingspark, after much indecisiveness haha. We spent another good 15 mins deciding what to order haha because Kingspark has such an extensive menu and we just couldn't make up our minds! We finally settled on getting two dishes for takeout: Portuguese Chicken on Rice and Fried Chicken Cartilage! By the time we got home I was already starving! We also got some skewers from 99 BBQ House, but I'm saving that for another post ;)

Signature Dishes
   Kingspark is a stall in the Crystal Mall food court that serves up HK style cafe food! They have your typical HK cafe offerings like baked pork chop on rice, spaghetti, french toast, etc. Most of their combos are around the $7-8 mark! They open early for breakfast and they serve breakfast all day! There are 2 other HK style stalls in the food court, Tasty Harmony a few doors down, and Libo, near the escalators!

Service 1/5 stars
  This is probably the worst service I've EVER received at a food court. When we were ordering, my grandma was a little indecisive and the girl literally rolled her eyes, and grunted! Wow, I thought we were the paying customers here? Based on service alone, I won't be back.

Ambiance - Casual
  Even though seating is ample, the food court gets pretty hectic during meal hours (especially on weekends) and it can be hard to get a seat! The tables are surprisingly clean lol because most people use trays which keeps the area relatively mess free. You'll always find me sitting in one of the high tables in the centre of the food court, because I love dangling my legs in the air haha!

Price - Affordable $
  The prices are typical of an HK stall in the food court. Combos range from  $7 to $10. Breakfast can be had for as little as $5!All meals come with a hot drink and cold drinks are an extra 50 cents. My grandma actually ended up spilling her milk tea on the way home so I didn't get a picture lol.

Value - Good
  For the money, the portion sizes are quite large. Between the three of us we had trouble finishing our food and we still had some leftover for the next day!

More Info!
4500 Kingsway (Crystal Mall)Burnaby, BC 
Cash Only

Fried Chicken Cartilage $5
3/5 stars
  This turned out to be a lot better than I was expecting! Similar to fried chicken nuggets, but way "lighter" and not as heavy! Doesn't this kind of resemble popcorn? lol The exterior was really crisp and the batter was  "airy" and light! It was modestly seasoned and wasn't greasy at all. The cartilage was really crunchy and wasn't too hard in texture. The portion size was quite large and wasn't a bad deal for $5!

Portuguese Chicken on Rice $7.50
2/5 stars
  This was a decent version of Portuguese Chicken. The sauce was creamy and thick, and the coconut flavour was definitely there. Other than that, the dish was mainly composed of filler ingredients like potatoes and tomatoes, with very little chicken in it. There was also some charring on top due to having been baked. The baked dishes take about 15 mins to make. Was it worth the wait? In my opinion, no. 

The Verdict
  For a food court, Kingspark offers up decent HK cafe fare for the money. They've been in business for a while because I remember seeing them in Gr.8, and I'm 18 now! But considering that there are wayy better stalls in the Crystal Mall food court, I probably won't come back here. 

Kingspark Good Food 京士柏中西美食 on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 12, 2014

Al Watan Tandoori

  I have this weird habit of riding transit to random places to look for food LOL. Yesterday I was riding along Fraser St and spotted Al Watan from inside the bus! I remembered reading about it on Chowtimes last week, so I hopped off and decided to go in for a peek! They have this killer lunch deal going on 6 days a week, which comes with 6 different dishes, for only $7.99! 

Signature Dishes
   Al Watan Tandoori is a small "dive" that serves up Palistani Cusine! Most people come here for their lunch special but they also have a ton of other dishes! Their specialities include: Haleem, Nehari, Paya, and Brain Masala which range from $8.99 to $9.99! Not bad at all!

Service 4/5 stars
  There was only one waiter working the floor, and one cook in the back. After sitting down I was immediately fetched a glass of lemon water and a menu. The waiter was really nice,  he even came around to ask me how I was enjoying my meal! The food came very quickly, probably because it was pre cooked. That's the thing with lunch specials, usually the food is pre made because they already know that they'll be a larger demand for it.

Ambiance - Casual
  You don't come here for the ambiance. This place is a bare bones restaurant with basic furniture and decor. It serves its purpose as a place to eat, but that's pretty much it. The restaurant itself is pretty clean though! I did make a pitstop in the washroom lol, which was decently clean as well!

Price - Affordable $
In comparison to the other lunch options in the area, Al Watan is definitely one of the cheaper ones (if you factor out subway, but hey, subway is getting pretty expensive these days!)  

Value - Great
  Low prices coupled with generous portion sizes makse this place great value! Most of their combos range from $8-10. From what I observed a lot of the diners were regulars, which didn't come as a surprise because this place is awesome value for the money!

More Info!
6084 Fraser St Vancouver, BC 
Open Tues - Sundays 
Tandoori Chicken, Rice
2/5 stars Tandoori Chicken
3/5 stars Rice

  The combo set came with one small piece of tandoori chicken. The exterior was nicely charred, which resulted in a deep, smokey flavour. I did find the meat to be a bit lacking in moisture and a bit hard to chew. Other than that, it was pretty standard. There was quite a lot of rice, it took up half of the entire plate! The rice was fluffy, slightly salty and had a really lovely aroma.
3/5 stars
  This was a huge piece of naan! It came out warm and freshly toasted! It was quite thick, and really bouncy. The bread was fluffy, soft without being too dense, and charred at the edges. I just noticed in the picture that it had two holes that looked like it was made by a hole puncher lol, what's that about?
Vegetable Curry, Chicken Curry, Daal
Chicken Curry 3/5 stars
Vegetable Curry 2/5 stars
Daal 3.5/5 stars

  The curry chicken had a medium level of spice to it. It was quite oily and really watery. The chicken was reasonably tender and had soaked up all of the flavours of the curry. My favourite dish out of the three was probably the daal (lentils)! It was the most flavourful out of the three and wasn't spicy at all! It had a ton of whole lentils in it, and was really mushy in texture. As for the vegetable curry, it was pretty spicy as well, and had bits of carrots, peas, and onions in it.

Dahi Sorba
3/5 stars
  Dahi Sorba is a yogurt made out of various spices like mustard seeds, cumin, and coriander seeds. This was really watery in texture, it was almost like drinking soup. It was predominately sour, the coriander and mustard elements definitely came on really strong.

The Verdict
If you're looking for a quick, cheap lunch, or just Palistani cuisine in the Sunset area, Al Watan is a solid choice! Most of the dishes were pretty tasty and for the price, you really get your money's worth!

Al-Watan Tandoori on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Adelitas Mexican Restuarant

  Yesterday I was craving mexican food, which rarely happens lol. And to be specific: enchiladas. So I pulled out my handy dandy yelp app, searched for mexican restaurants and Adelitas popped up! The reviews looked promising, almost all of the elites had rated this one a 4 star! And those people are hard to impress LOL!

  From the exterior, Adelitas looks like a convenience store, more so than a restaurant. They're so easy to miss because the name on their sign is so small and isn't legible from the street. If you're looking for it they're located on Victoria Drive, across the street from Kalvin's Szechuan Restaurant!

Signature Dishes
   Adelitas is a hole in the wall that serves up homestyle Mexican food!  There's actually another Mexican restaurant one door down from them, called El Carchol!

  Here's a sample of their menu: Chicken in Mole Sauce, Chile in Nogada, Chile relleno, Cochinita Pibil, Burritos, Enchiladas, Pastel Azteca, Tstadasndepollo. For such a small restaurant, they have quite a variety! They even have a dessert menu! I really wanted to try their cheese flan, but I was too full haha.

  It did take them a while to take my order because the waitress was talking to her customers, but she was quick to apologize. Adelitas is a family run business so there seemed to be only one waitress in the restaurant, and one chef in the back. After ordering my food came out much quicker than I had expected.

  The place is really small and can only seat about 20 or so people. The decor is really simple, with cute paintings hanging on the wall! In the back they have these huge sombreros hanging on a coat rack! :D The ceilings are really low so it can get a bit stuffy in there, but it wasn't that big of a deal.

Price - Midrange $$
  Tacos are $4 each which is a bit pricier than most places. Most of the meal sets start at $12.50. Not bad, but certainly more expensive than your average hole in the wall!

Value - Good
  Yes, the prices aren't cheap, but in return, the portion sizes are quite substantial! With my meal I also got a large helping of rice and beans! The quality was there: everything tasted fresh, and they didn't skimp out on any of the ingredients.

More Info!
5178 Victoria Dr Vancouver, BC 
Chicken Enchiladas w/ Green Sauce
3/5 stars
  You have the option to choose between green, red or chocolate sauce and I chose the green sauce (because it was recommended on yelp lol)! You can also choose between chicken, beef, or veggies for your filling, and I went with chicken, which is their most popular option. 

  The green sauce can best be described as tangy. This whole dish was tangy. Especially from the sour cream. I actually found the sour cream to overpower the flavour of the cheese. The tacos get a bit soggy from soaking in the sauce, but that was inevitable. The taco shell was really thin and tasted strongly of corn. The avocados on top were fresh and paired well with the colour of the green sauce lol!
Here's a look at the inside! The chicken was really lean and had soaked up a ton of the flavours from the sauce!
4/5 stars
  One word to describe this: FRESH. The tomatoes were super "zingy" and the cilantro bits just burst in my mouth. The chopped onions really came through. It was flavoured with this tangy vinaigrette which really helped bring out the flavours of the veggies. So simple but so good!
Rice & Beans
3/5 stars
  I really liked the rice hehe! It was actually sweet, and slightly hard in texture. The beans were really mushy in texture and had a slight spice to them. I'm not too fond of beans but I really liked this haha! The portion size was generous, and after finishing the entire combo, I was pretty full!

The Verdict
 Overall, Adelitas is a great place for some authentic homestyle Mexican Eats! The food was tasty, but not that memorable. Would I come back here? Probably not. But if you're looking for some Mexican food in the area, Adelitas is a solid choice!

Adelitas on Urbanspoon

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