Friday, May 26, 2017

"Exotic Foot Flush" (The Cactus Club Kingsway / Metrotown Review)

The Cactus Club is known to have good food, good service and good atmosphere but the pricing has also been known to be a bit on the higher end of things. That is also the main reason why I don't visit too often (I like to be frugal). However, today my friend treated me to lunch to celebrate graduation (thank you!! You know who you are ;)).
    The Kingsway location seems to be a bit on the smaller side versus many other Cactus Club locations in and around Vancouver. We arrived around 11AM when the restaurant was not too busy. The outside patio already had a few guests sitting around (I am not going to lie, the scenery of the outside patio is not necessarily the most flattering). Once we got into the entrance, the hostess quickly greeted us and sat us down.
    She began by offering us the specials and drinks menu (which is typical). It was funny how they assumed that people just assume that they have non-alcoholic beverages because on the drinks menu, it was all alcoholic. It wasn't until I asked our waitress later on that there were other things like iced tea and coffee. I decided to get iced tea... which was not typical of me to do but I decided to try something new and grab an iced tea.
    After, she came back with our drinks and asked us what appetizers we would like. They have a good selection of appetizers, and most of the prices were almost the same as an entree. I had my eye on the truffle fries (as a marathon runner.. I have a thing for carbs.. good or bad...). However, my friend told me that the truffle fries can also be obtained by ordering an entree and then doing the add on option for $2 more. So you can pretty much save money by ordering the up-sized fries on the side. After debating for a while, we decided to get the potato skins.
    The potato skins were very good, they weren't greasy, but they had just the right amount of sauces and toppings and the layer of bacon was just right. The sauce that it came with was also very good. I would highly recommend this dish if you are looking for an appetizer when you are here.
   I decided to order the Ocean Wise Tuna Sandwich while my fried ordered the chicken strips and fries. I also decided to upgrade my fries to truffle fries (go figure eh?). The Ocean Wise tuna sandwich was amazing. The tuna was pretty fresh (and to be honest, didn't really taste much like Tuna but rather it tastes more like chicken but with the lighter and fluffier side. I enjoyed it quite a bit.
    Overall, this Cactus Club is definitely a decent place to go for lunch. It is not too expensive yet it is not cheap feeling. One thing to add about this location that I find quite special was that the washroom tends to be a bit on the cramped side. I am 5'7 and it was a bit edgy trying to get in and out... however.. they have this really cool toilet flushing mechanism called the "Exotic Foot Flush". I am not sure why the call it exotic... it's really just a button on the floor that flushes the toilet... It's not like pineapples and bananas grow out of it once the "exotic" button is pushed...
Cactus Club Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Lunch special in a dark dungeon like Japanese/Korean fusion (Yakiniku ya Downtown Vancouver)

I've been here a few years ago, and did a previous blog post on this place. I was in the area, so I decided to stop by. I noticed that they have a new menu and one of the things that were featured was the lunch specials. That got me interested as there was the $10.95 lunch menu. So I decided to go in and visit with my mother.
   The interesting thing about this place is that it's a fusion of Korean and Japanese cuisine. I have a hard time trying to figure out if they are Korean or Japanese owned because the waitress seemed to speak both. That said, the place seemed understaffed as they only had one waitress when I was there with my mother for lunch.
   We took a look at the menu and decided to get an avocado roll, a seafood cake (Korean style) and a Chicken Teriyaki Lunchbox special. Then we waited for our meal.. I noticed that this place is very fancy on decoration and setting. They spent a lot of time getting the decor of the inside. I am not exactly sure what the theme is.. but the insides do remind me of a cave (because it's dark on the inside and the walls and floors were stone (or what appears to be...)).
   Since there was only one waitress, it does seem like she was a bit rushed. The miso soup came first and then came the fish cake and the bento box. The table space was a bit awkward as it has a section for BBQ. When the miso soup came, I had to move it but instead the miso soup became me so wet when I spilled it everywhere...
   The next thing to come was the bento.  The portions were not as impressive as it seems in the pictures. For $10.95, it came with 2 pieces of tempura, a slice of orange 1 tofu, a bite of cold noodles, a few bites of chicken teriyaki, salad, rice and miso soup. The quality is on the higher end of things, but not super high end.
   The seafood pancake and the avocado roll was next. The avocado roll was nothing much to write about. However, the seafood pancake was pretty good. It had a good balance of seafood in it and the pan frying wasn't too greasy.
   What was the most interesting part of this visit was that just before I left, I saw a man (who looks like the owner) coming in and he cleaned the table next to ours. He then stacked all of the cups and poured the contents on his potted plants outside... That was definitely interesting watching that...
   Overall, the price of this place is decent. However, the portions are not the best. I won't go out of my way to come here but if I am around this area, I will visit. 
Yakinikuya Japanese BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, May 19, 2017

Everything for $4.95... and they weren't kidding! (Warehouse Group / Restaurant Review)

I've walked by this place many times, and have always took a second look at the sign that says (Everything $4.95). Knowing that it's in Downtown Vancouver, and that just Vancouver in general is not exactly the cheapest... I've always stared at the sign and moved on. That said, the place is usually very busy so that's also another reason why I never came. However, I was feeling adventurous today and the place wasn't that busy (as it was early on) so I came.
   The restaurant itself has a couple of heated outside/ patio seats and when you walk in, there is a sign that prompts you to wait at the entrance for your hostess. The menu is also outside and after taking a close look, there is a wide variety of food options. From appetizers to burgers to even Asian noodles, they have it all. The variety is actually pretty big and they have a decent selection of appetizers too. The one thing I noticed with their menu is that for every item, there seems to be the option to upgrade (like upgrade to add fries to a combo or upgrade fries to soup.. or add an avocado to your meal). It's pretty cool. The prices for upgrades did not seem too expensive either (around $1-$2 for upgrades.
     Once I lined up, the hostess came and took me inside. I can tell that they are very busy and they seem to be a bit on the understaffed side. It took a good few minutes for the waitress to come around with water and drinks. While I waited, I had a look at the menu and took in the vibe of the place. It's setup like a pub, so the insides are darker and the waitress and waiters were also younger. They have very vintage decorations like an old juke box and signs that they collected from different places. It also reminds me of a ski-shack for some odd reason.
     The waitress came and took my order. Since I was here with my mother and I wasn't too sure how big the portions were (I thought to myself "$4.95... how much can that get you?"), so I decided to get 3 items between the 2 of us. My mother being the health nut that she is decided to get the Asian noodles while I decided to get their chicken wrap. We decided to get the fish tacos to split in case the food we got were not enough.
     I noticed that the waitress, when she came around to ask us for our order, she would ask us if we wanted an upgrade for extra. For my mom's noodles, she offered to add avocados to it for only $2 more, so we said yes. For my wrap, she told me that fries were included (at this point... I thought... "oh man... $4.95 with a fries.. I hope the quality is alright").
     After she took our orders, it took the orders around 20 minutes or so to arrive (given that they seem to be understaffed, it was understandable). When the orders came.. I was decently amazed. The portions were NOT SMALL AT ALL! The noodles were a big bowl and so was the wrap and fries. Even if you go to the supermarket, the prices would be higher (for example... I once bought a chicken wrap from a supermarket... for $6 and it didn't even come with fries).
    My mom gave me some of her noodles for me to try, and to my surprise, the quality was decent too. It reminded me of the noodles I once had in Taiwan (except with a Vancouver twist to it). Who knew avocados tasted so good with the noodles.
    The next thing I tried was my own wrap. The wrap itself was not exactly massive or fancy but it was good. It had all of the essentials of a chicken wrap (the chicken, the sauce, lettuce and mildly grilled tortilla). The fries were also good (it wasn't too greasy but slightly on the dry side). For $4.95, the portion was very good.
    The next thing I tried was the fish tacos. The fish itself in the tacos were a bit on the smaller side and it wasn't as fresh as some other places... however, the other contents of the taco was really good. Also for $4.95.. it was definitely a bargain.
    Once we finished, the bill came and for 3 plates of food, in Downtown Vancouver, it was only around $17 for everything! That is an incredibly good deal! I would definitely come back again because of that. I would recommend this place if you were taking your date to out for lunch... but the place is pretty loud. It would be hard to have a good conversation... that said... when things are cheap and good.. who needs conversation anyway right? :p
The Warehouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Starting to lose its flare? (Uncle Willy's Metrotown)

Uncle Willy's have been here for a while, I remember that it's been here ever since I was a child (not to date myself or anything). There have not been much change since I was a child. The tables, arrangements, even equipment and utensils have not changed. From the outside, it is obvious that minor repairs have been done (such as the addition of the "buffet" sign) outside. Once you enter, the signs look exactly the same as it has years ago.
   I decided to come here for lunch just to see what it is like years after (and if there was any change). The facilities appear to be a bit on the vintage side of things, but the prices were fair. The lunchtime price was around $13 per person. When you arrive, you would pay for your entry first, then you will be given your receipt. I then proceeded to look for food. The plates, utensils and even bowls seems like they haven't changed for 20 years (then again.. is it customary for restaurants to change plates within 20 years?). The utensils do look worn, but then again it is still usable.
    After grabbing utensils, the food options begin with soup. There were two types of soup (one is the tomato and the other was the chicken soup). I tried the chicken soup, which had rice in it as well, and I liked it. The salad bar came after the soups and it had things like salad (potato salad, coleslaw, caesar and more). The food and salad from the salad bar is typical in the sense that all of these things can be found in the deli at the supermarket, so it's not anything too special.
    The next section of food contains a miscellaneous selection of meats. During the hour that I was there, they had a few dishes that changed. One dish I liked was the casserole (I think) that was wrapped in cabbage. It had some rice in it and meat as well. They also had things like perogies, gravy and pasta, fried chicken, curry potatoes (these are good) and a variety of meatballs. The taste of these are relatively fair.
    On the far hand side, there were also three dishes of fried noodles, asparagus with vegetables and meat. The asparagus seemed a bit dehydrated... otherwise the other dishes were pretty fair.
     What was the most interesting was the drinks section. It seemed like the coffee machines haven't been maintained for a while.. and what was coming out of it was just hot water. The soda machine seems to have been there for a long time as well.
     The dessert section was pretty sweet. I've always liked their dessert section. They have a good selection of desert and reduced sugar desserts (which is great for someone like myself who does not have much of a sweet tooth).
   Overall, I would come here again, but I would not come here too often. The quality of the food is alright, however, the facilities are starting to become a bit run down. 
Uncle Willy's Buffet Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Inexpensive and to the point buffet (Agra Tandoori Restaurant Burnaby)

    If you are looking for a buffet that gives you your Indian food craving but don't want to pay too much, this is the place to go. Con Agra is a bit out of the way in terms of public transit, but there are many offices around so you see many business people eating here during lunch hours. The restaurant itself isn't too big. It can probably fit around 30-40 people, so it can get busy.
    I was there this morning (it's Tuesday) and their buffet is only $9.95. I had a flyer coupon that took $2.00 off of the original buffet price, which made my meal to be $7.95 (which I thought... is cheaper than getting takeout at the food court.. and I get to eat all I can eat).
    When it comes to the selection, the restaurant only has about 10 dishes. The first is the garden salad with a selection of 3 sauces. There is not much to write about for this as it's just regular caesar sauce, and hot sauce. The only thing that was special was the spicy pickle sauce that they had.
  The next set of dishes after the salad was Indian fries and rice. I must say, the Indian fries were pretty good. It was like regular fries infused with curry (but it wasn't as greasy as curry).
  After this, there was a choice of daal, vegetable curry, butter chicken, beef curry. The vegetable curry was pretty good and so was the butter chicken. I mixed it on top of the rice and the infusion of the curry into the rice was just right. They also had tandoori chicken and these circular egg like things. I

Overall, this place is limited in terms of how much selection there is for the buffet. Given the price, it is much cheaper than going to the food court to get take out of butter chicken... and you also get so much of it. If the options aren't enough for you, they have an a la carte menu too! Overall, I would definitely come back here again. 
Agra Tandoori Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, December 26, 2016

The server that smiles only when you pay her/ pretty decent All You Can Eat Hot Pot (MaThai Hotpot Restaurant)

It was a cold night so a group of friends and I decided to look for hot pot. After driving through the Richmond area, we saw the sign outside of MaThai Hotpot for All You Can Eat hotpot for $21.95. To be honest, I was not too sure about how the concept of All You Can Eat for hot pots work.  If you think about it, soup fills you up and it's also cheap. By that rationale... you would get full really fast via hotpot, but I learned that there's more to it than that.
    The restaurant itself wasn't big, in total it could probably hold roughly 40 people. When we got in, there were only 2 people working that night and they seemed tired. We quickly got seated and the menu was brought to us. It was confusing at first because there were separate pricing for things (despite it being All You Can Eat). After asking one of the servers, we found out that we had to buy the soup base separately, and the All You Can Eat portion only referred to the things that go in the hot pot (like meat, fish and etc...). Apparently you can get more than one type of soup base (but they cost separately).
   We all decided to get the pork soup base. When the soup base came, there were huge pieces of pork in there. Compared to some other hot pot places I've been to, which adds the soup base using powder, they actually have the real meat in their soup bases. We started to order the things to put into the hot pot (I want to call them condiments, but that just sounds like ketchup... so let's just call them "things we put in hot pot for now).
   We decided to put an order for about 3 of everything to see what we are dealing with. In terms of the selection, there were many to choose from. From meat (lamb, beef, pork, chicken) to fish (shrimp, squid, and assortment of fish balls) to dim sum (such as dumplings, XiaoLong Baos) to things such as deep fried buns, potato cakes, nuggets to fish skin to quail eggs. In terms of vegetables, there was a fairly good selection as well. They also had skewers as well.
   After we put in our order, the first wave of food started coming. The portions were a bit smaller than we expected. 3 orders of meat really amounts to only a few pieces of meat in reality. The vegetables came in buckets, but the other items were similar in the sense that each portion/ order was small. After all of the raw foods came, the fried foods and grilled ones started coming too. The part I loved the best was the fact that the fried and grilled food was freshly cooked (hence why it took longer to come). You can also taste the freshness as it just emerged from the fryer. The food itself tasted pretty good, but it wasn't too special.
   That said, the portions were not too big, so we decided to go for seconds. Then we went for thirds... I think the server looked a bit annoyed with us (but understandably they were under staffed). When it was time for the third round, we decided to get more of everything just so we have enough food to fill us and we don't need to make another round. We ordered about 20 pieces of nuggets (of which only 4 came). By the time the 3rd order came, the server notified us that it's our last call (there was a time limit of 2 hours we can be at the restaurant.
   At that time, my friends and I were getting full.. so we decided to get our bill. It was funny when the server came with our bill, she wrote on there explicitly "+tips". When I got up to go pay her, I saw her smile for the first time in the entire time that we were there. The minimum amount of tips we had to give was 12%.
    Overall, I would say the service was a bit lacking, but it's understandable as they are busy and the food was relatively good. The price, after tips came to about $30 per person, which sounds about right for All You Can Eat Hot Pot. That said, for a meal, that tends to be a bit on the expensive side, so I'm open to come again, but not too often.

MaThai Hotpot Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

McDonald's Waffle Fries Review

I must say, when I saw the posters for waffle fries come out from McDonald's, I was jumping with joy (I guess the new product hype). I must give credit to McDonald's for their efforts to re-invent themselves. Recently, they rolled out kiosks where people can order and buy things without human interactions (all the introverts must be celebrating). I found that this idea was very nice because it allowed people who didn't need an overly customized order to order quickly and pay with their card. The added bonus was that the kiosks also accepted coupons.

I ordered the waffle fries from the kiosk and they were about $2.80 for each side order. It seems a bit on the expensive side considering that I am used to paying only for small fries. That said, the waffle fries come in only one size. It took the order no time to get ready.

The first impression was that the portions of the fries were not very impressive. As with the natural geometry of the waffles, there seems to be many spaces inside the fries and there's only a few actual waffles of the fries. In addition, the taste of the fries was a bit on the dry side. It was also on the saltier side, and there were in inconsistencies with the sizes between each waffle fry. Perhaps it was the way it was prepared, the waffle fries wasn't anything too special to write home about. It would be an alright snack, but I would opt for waffle fries that is more full on the flavour side. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A surprising find - Ricky's All Day Grill Victoria

I must say I was surprised by Ricky’s and the value of their meals for the quality and quantity. This was the first time that I ever ate at a Ricky’s. I’ve always associated them to be expensive (to be honest, I am not exactly sure why I associate them with being expensive). However, since it was Thanksgiving and there was really nothing interesting in the area beside fast food, my mother and I decided to give this place a shot and make it a onetime thing if it was too expensive. After walking into the restaurant, I was greeted by the hostess who was very nice and pleasant. My first impression was that the place had a small town but a big city restaurant to it. We were seated followed by the waitress asking what drinks we would like. My mother being the hipster she can be asked for hot water while the happy-go-lucky me asked for just water. A few moments later, the waitress came back with a miniature kettle of warm water and a cup for my mother and a cup of cold water for me. It was interesting how for the warm water, she gave my mom a small kettle.
While the waitress was grabbing us water, we looked through the menu. I must say, the selection is pretty interesting. They had a Turkey Dinner on special which included salad, turkey, soup and dessert. It looked fancy, but as I was running the Victoria Half-Marathon the next day, I wanted something a bit on the lighter end. Flipping through their menu, there were a good variety of food that is good for anyone from vegetarians to non-vegetarians. The main categories included burgers, wraps, pasta and a wide variety of appetizers. They also had a good assortment of sides that came with the burgers / wraps which include salad, fries and/or onion rings, potato wedges and tumbleweed chips.
Upon seeing the tumbleweed chips as an option, my attention was grabbed. I had a hard time choosing, so I decided to go with something that had chicken, which lead me to get the Zorba the Greek Chicken Wrap. My mother got the mushroom sandwich. The pricing for these were pretty fair at about $13 per order. We also decided to get a side order of flatbread to get a bit more carbs in my system before the race the next day (which was about $7).
Soon after we placed our orders, the food came. I must say, I was very impressed with the portions. The tumbleweed chips look so good. The wrap was also very good as the cheese and chicken made the right blend. The tumbleweed chips were good too as they were freshly made, and the taste of fresh chips is just so fantastic… Unlike the chips you get at the store bagged, fresh chips have more flavour and fullness (vs more dry store bought chips).
Before we left, I had a nice conversation with our waitress. She is a local and she was telling about how her son is graduating school in media production and how she is excited about her some coming home. I guess that is also one part of why I love this experience at Ricky’s so much. The fact that you can have conversations with the people too, which adds more meaning to the food. Overall, the atmosphere is great, people is nice, price is fair, I would definitely come back again if I was in town.
Ricky's All Day Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, October 10, 2016

Dining with the sea and the mountains (BC FERRIES PACIFIC BUFFET REVIEW)

I’ve always seen the signs for the buffet when I board this route from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay, however, I never been interested in eating here as I get turned off by the price. That said, if compared to buffets in Vancouver and other places, the pricing is relatively similar. In addition, I was starving after I finished running in the Victoria Half-Marathon, so I decided to go for it during lunch and boy was it good! Coming into the buffet, the dining hall is pretty big. However, the best part of the dining hall is the environment as it’s at the back of the ferry (if you are on Coastal Celebration) and you have a view of the sea as you sail. It’s not exactly 360 degrees but it is close to 300 degrees.
The view is pretty magnificent. After paying for the entry into the buffet, your host will take you into the dining area to be seated. The environment is more on the quiet side even with the dining room all full. The also had faint elevator music (I am not sure how to deUnlike buffets that I am used to going, they don’t ask you if you would like a drink (which is good because the drinks usually cost extra, so I don’t get it anyway). Here at the Pacific Buffet, there is a selection of coffee/tea and 6 different soft drinks to choose from. Of course, being the caffine addict I am, I went straight for the coffee.
 When it comes to the selection of food, it is fair. There isn’t a huge variety, however, there is a fair bit. The main entrees already have at least 8 dishes. The dishes range from shrimp to salmon to pork curry to spring rolls. They also have rice, and teriyaki noodles. My favourite dish was the vegetarian ravioli. The perfect blend of mushroom inside the ravioli coupled with the cheesy sauce made it a mouth watering combination. I also liked the pork curry and spring rolls. It had a fresh taste to them. Besides main entrees, there was a salad bar that contains a large variety of condiments on the side for you to choose from.
There was also bread (baguettes that were sliced up with a selection of either margarine and butter). The condiments ranged from shrimp to different dried nuts and lemons. Personally I didn’t have too much of this. The most impressive however, was their dessert selection. As a marathon runner and health nut I shouldn’t be advocating for this (because they only had 1 variety of fruits when I was here – watermelon), but their cake and sweets selection was NICE. There was a table just for cheese cake, whip cream and strawberry sauce. In addition, there was another counter for a variety of cakes and macaroons. YES… macaroons, that was the first time I’ve ever macaroons appear at a buffet. Have I mentioned the views?! Sitting here is just absolutely gorgeous. Surrounded by islands and mountains with the sea and the sun reflecting the trees off the water… it is absolutely gorgeous. Overall, I would say the Pacific Buffet is worth coming to. The price is fair and also it is a great place to view the scenery and have a great meal.