Tag Archives: worth another visit

First Look: Veggie Mexican at Lucha Verde on Davie St.

Last year was all poke — this year’s trend seems to be Mexican! With the opening of Fayuca, El Santo winning Vanmag Gold Award for Best Latin (disappointing review here), expansion of Tacofino into Yaletown, La Mezcaleria into Gastown, etc, Mexican cuisine is getting hot. But what I’m after is just plain good eats. Surprisingly, the most impactful (there’s a Sherman word for ya!) “Mexican” experience I’ve had that consistently impresses me is the tacos at Four Winds Brewing in Delta. They use tacos as a canvas, and bring in smartly constructed flavours. I’m not even going to touch the notion of authenticity. There’s a huge range of regional Mexican cuisine that we are just frickin’ ignorant about in Vancouver. I’m just concentrating on whether the shit tastes good or not. So does Lucha Verde taste good?

NOTE: Lucha Verde wasn’t even a week old when we visited. I think you’re all intelligent enough to take what I say below in perspective. They were still training new servers but we still got good, attentive service. The owner was wearing a TMNT t-shirt!

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Sushi Gem: Tetsu Sushi Bar on Denman

Big props to foodbysamson for discovering this place. Tetsu Sushi Bar (Facebook, Instagram) is my idea of a cute, perfect-in-its-own-way, neighbourhood sushi place you’d find in Japan — small (only 14 seats), run by Japanese people or people trained in Japan (itamae and server are from Osaka), serves a curated selection of fish from Japan (and presumably the best local fish too), offers some unique dishes not found elsewhere, and is too good to keep a secret. While not as practised and precise as a place like Sushi Bar Maumi (review here), it’s filling a gap — high quality neighbourhood sushi — and hits some pretty high notes.

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Happy Hour Quickie: Cacao Snack Bar Upstairs

In a previous post, I’ve said that happy hours are a great way of getting people in the door during a slack period, sell some drinks, show them what you can do, and hopefully entice them to spring for a full dinner experience later on. Therefore, I don’t think restaurants should be pussyfooting around when it comes to this critical window of opportunity to win customers.

I’ve been working up the nerve to go to Cacao since Chef Jefferson Alvarez opened it in late summer 2016, but luckily they just opened up their snack bar on their second floor, which gave me and a couple longtime Chowhounders a chance to get a taste of what Cacao has to offer.

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Lunch Quickie: Face-Melting Szechuan Cuisine at Szechuan Cuisine in Burnaby

I’m exaggerating about how spicy the food was. If you avoid eating the actual chilies, the food is about medium spicy. If you DO choose to eat the chilies…well…that’s all on you. For me, the more painful part was my allergy to capsaicin (the compound in chilies that make them spicy). Whenever I eat even traces of capsaicin, I start sweating like this:

Because of this affliction, I’ve avoided a lot of the Hunan and Sichuan/Szechuan restaurants around town. But recent visits to Nine Dishes and Joojak has reignited (literally) my interest in this spicy cuisine. I really do enjoy the flavours and the experience — I just need to bring a headband and a towel next time.

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First Look: Iekei Style Ramen at Yaguchiya Ramen in Burnaby

The slow proliferation of Japanese-run ramen places has reached the Metrotown area in Burnaby. Yaguchiya Ramen is currently in soft-opening phase but the shoyu ramen I tried already tasted like it hit the mark right out of the gate. It’s a tiny place that seats ~16 people but I can already tell they’re gonna be busy once word gets out. Glad to see real Japanese ramen this far out of downtown.

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First Look: Sen Pad Thai in Net Loft at Granville Island

The newest Angus An venture, Sen Pad Thai, opened up a couple weeks ago (early May 2017) in the Net Loft building across from the Granville Island Public Market. (It’s the same building that houses Paper-Ya.) The whole Angus An group of restaurants has had a busy season. Only two weeks previous, Freebird Chicken Shack reopened in a larger space at River Market (New West) with a revamped menu. I’ve written about this group of restaurants before:

Longtail Kitchen:

I’ve also been to Maenam a couple times (before I started this blog), so I think I have a bit of a tough love kind of relationship with the whole group. I hold them to high standards (if you flaunt Michelin-star experience, then I must watch for attention to detail, technique, consistency, and above all, taste — actually, those are my criteria all the time). If those high standards aren’t met, it kills me inside as a fan and as a customer.

So does Sen Pad Thai fall into the homerun category (Longtail Kitchen), underappreciated but mildly inconsistent category (Freebird), or the not-good-enough-out-of-the-gate-wouldn’t-go-back category (Fat Mao)? Read on…

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Lunch Quickie: Xian Food at Joojak

The Kingsway and Joyce area has been a hotbed for Chinese food, with a few notable Northern Chinese restaurants (including some blow-your-head-off spicy Hunan food at Luckynoodle). I don’t have a lot of experience with Northern Chinese food, but I’m growing to like it, even tolerating the oiliness of some of the dishes. We had a really good first experience at Joojak and would definitely come again, and perhaps explore other Xian restaurants to see how they compare. We’re kinda spoiled for regional Chinese food in Vancouver/Richmond/etc and I’ve taken it for granted.

Side note about this area: There’s a new Peaceful Restaurant going in across the street from Joojak, right beside Goldtrain. Also, the new location of Hida Takayama Ramen (the ghetto superstar of Robson Public Market) is where Vanya used to be beside Royal Bank. Plus, I like the xiao long bao (soup dumplings) at Wang’s beside London Drugs. It’s a very foodie-worthy area.

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Dinner Quickie: Nine Dishes is back in Richmond BC

The cult favourite Nine Dishes is back! Their former location on Kingsway in Vancouver closed down in February 2015 (I think) and was a favourite among those with an adventurous attitude towards dining. I went to the new location with a group of longtime Chowhound members to see if the magic was still there. Will it be a case of “Nein Dishes” at Nine Dishes? Will it hit the mark or will it be chabuduo (close enough)?

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A Flower and A Horse Walk Into A Bar: Yunnan Noodles at Flower & Horse in Spring

The place with the poetic name, Flower & Horse in Spring, opened up in the old Spaghetèi space in November 2016. (Before Spaghetèi, this space was the original Benkei Ramen.) With less than six months under its belt, Flower & Horse in Spring has already won a Chinese Restaurant Awards award — one of five “Social Media Choice Awards” given out in 2017. Read the judge’s own thoughts on why he chose this place here.

A couple food-obsessed types and I went to check it out.

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First Look: Pizza by the Slab at Joe Pizza

Basically ignore every post or review of Joe Pizza you’ve read before late February, cuz after their initial soft-opening phase using Annabelle Choi’s sourdough, they’ve completely reworked their dough recipe on their own, now use commercial yeast, and have lowered prices to the $5-6 range instead of original ~$8; so it’s pretty much a new place as of late February. I went on a Thursday night and while I like it and admire it for what it is, I don’t love it.

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