Dineout Reviews: July 2010

It’s a pretty good month if I’ve got enough food pictures for a dineout review for just that month, ja? Ja!

Benkei Ramen

We usually get miso ramen because it’s hearty and oh so tasty. But what about the second bowl of ramen we order between the two of us? We are not likely to get the cold noodles but the milky broth elicits both fascination and fear in us. At Benkei, the milky broth was described as being designed for Western tastes and has garlic and butter. I was merely very happy NPY was willing to try something different.

I loved the garlicky and buttery smelling emanating from my bowl of Peko Ramen. It reminded me of many savoury seafood meals. NPY was less nostalgic and remarked how it was like creamy sauces of pasta dishes. Only in this case, the noodles were ramen. I concentrated on my milky buttery garlicky noodles while he mostly ate his miso ramen and perhaps more so than his miso, mine was lacking substance for the money you pay. Since it was so special a dish, it was, of course, priced higher than the other normal ramen bowls. I enjoyed it nonetheless not minding the juxtaposition between Asian noodles with a “Western” sauce. Since it was a broth, I would hope most of the fatty oily “sauce” lent a treat for the olfactory senses but slipped off and did not make it into your stomach.

Las Tortas

This Mexican sandwiches restaurant has been open on Cambie Street for a couple years now and I just went to have lunch. Finally, I went with a couple of co-workers, one of whom is Mexican. I ordered the Chorizo con Huevo tortas and the pineapple agua fresca. (The other agua fresca choice was tamarind. It was nice and sweet, but I didn’t want a whole glass.) My coworker, Rod, ordered the combo with a gazpacho which looked unappetizing to me since it was laced with cilantro! It seemed to take a little while to prepare our three sandwiches when the place didn’t seem very busy during a midweek lunch but the resultant sandwiches were impressive. My unique ingredients of sausage and egg was great breakfast-come-lunch fare. And the other flavours came from a thin layer of refried beans (not too much, perfect), tasty pickled onions and jalapenos (not too spicy), refreshing shredded cabbage, and fragrant mayo and butter. The only problem for me is that one sandwich is gigantic and I need to arrange to share with another girl or something.

Saravanaa Bhavan

Vancouver Magazine told me to try Saravanaa Bhavan’s giant dosas in its 2009 edition of 100 Vancouver foods to try and now I have. Saravanaa Bhavan has a few locations nationwide and they specialize in vegetarian Indian cuisine. I’ve seen the posters on their windows for economical lunch boxes (around $7.50) and mean to try them soon. But one day before heading out to run errands, I went to SB first to pick up a dosa. I selected a vegetable one because it promised to have an assortment of vegetables instead of just spiced potatoes. I had kind of expected a samosa like skin, not knowing what a dosa was beforehand. A dosa is a crepe wrapped around the fillings and three dipping curries are provided. It was indeed quite giant and very flat. It made a great two meals.

Lido Chinese Restaurant

We tried a couple times to go to Lido because our friend, Susan, reminds us it’s the place to get claypot rice. There are about five varieties including the Chinese mushroom and chicken one pictured, a minced pork with raw egg one, and a barbecued meat one. We ordered two normal pots for $12 each before placing the rest of our order because they take a little more time to prepare. We also ordered a three-dish dinner because five us were sharing the meal. It was too much food! We noticed the table next to us also had five people and they shared a super-size version of the claypot that was about 75% larger and was perhaps $16? What a great idea! I didn’t really like the random cuts of chicken present but they flavoured the rice very nicely. I told NPY that it reminded me of Hainanese flavoured rice, i.e., fragrantly oil-infused.

Toko Restaurant

We went for an evening stroll in the neighbourhood and deliberated which restaurant to visit that wouldn’t leave us feeling regretful of having indulgent food. That generally suggests a Japanese meal and we decided to try Toko, a restaurant/manufacturing company in the light industrial area between Cambie and Main Street.

The dining room smelled a little funky to me so I was happy we were able to comfortable eat at their outdoor tables. It’s a little odd to sit on the sidewalk of a quiet industrial area and have dinner. At dinner hour, the nearby stores were all closed. In the hour that we were there, no one came to sit indoors and a few other tables joined us outside.

We ordered a chicken udon because I heard their noodles were tasty and we ordered the egg tofu with egg white sauce to have a “rice dish”. I was pleasantly surprised the chicken udon was tasty with fresh noodles, a light broth, and savoury paste smeared on the tender chicken pieces. The egg tofu dish was the whitest egg white sauce I have ever seen and I was impressed. With respect to the line between too-gooey and tasty, it was on the tasty side.

Village Taphouse

We ran out of things to do in Vancouver downtown and went out to Park Royal in West Vancouver for the afternoon. There’s the standard mall part that is decent and an outdoor section that looks like an outdoor California mall with some some higher-end shops. NPY gave me a choice between Milestones, Cactus Club, and the local pub, Village Taphouse and I narrowed it down to Cactus and the Taphouse so as to not decide for him to take a chance at the local offering.

They had two beer specials, blueberry and lemon, and I gleefully cheered when NPY’s blueberry ale arrived and it was a deep red-pink. I love when that happens and he’s a little embarrassed.

We’re having some difficulties these days trying to decide what to eat when we go out. NPY is getting more conscientious about his salt intake and trying to avoid the rich and creamy dishes he likes. We were at the pub at the odd hour of 5 p.m. and didn’t know whether to get an appetizer (too light, probably too greasy) or a full meal. I voted for pizza, perfect for sharing, but they don’t come with french fries he feels is requisite for a pub meal. So we experimented and ordered a sandwich and asked if we could get half fries and half salad instead of having to choose between the two. I have seen my boss making that request with success at Cactus and gave it a try. They were so great to split the sandwich for us and present it on two long plates. The Bay Shrimp Club was loaded with little shrimp and avocado (YUM!) but I found they were a little heavy-handed with the dill aoli. I ate it all anyhow!

On this day..