December 10, 2010 | | Comments 25

Bubble World on Capstan Way, Richmond

Did some of you notice that chowtimes.com went off line earlier on today? It was 6 hours long starting from 11PM yesterday. Good thing it happened during those hours when most of you are already fast asleep.

The outage was apparently widespread and impact all virtual dedicated servers hosted in GoDaddy. I was told that the root cause was with their network. For a while I was quite concerned that with the sudden increase of traffic the past few weeks (after chowtimes was mentioned on The Vancouver Sun), it is deja vu all over again.

Anyway we are back in business.

Suanne, Nanzaro and I went out looking for dinner that day about three weeks ago. Arkensen said he did not want to go out insisting he is not hungry and had made instant noodles just an hour earlier. He is smart and I think he planned it that way to avoid going out. He had planned with his friends to play Call of Duty: Black Ops. Have you guys seen that game? It has great graphics.

I can’t play those games anymore. These games belong to the younger generation. For my generation, we only have ONE joystick. I know how to move forward and backward and I know how to look left and right. That’s it. With today’s games, you have TWO joysticks and countless buttons. Not only can you move in all four directions with the new controllers, you can look up, down and every direction. So I tried to play these games with my boys. I get killed within seconds … all the time. Even before I can orientate myself, my boys would shout “Head shot!” and laugh out loud. Yeah, they can aim and shoot in a split second right in the middle of their dad’s temple. I give up! I’ll stick to Solitaire on Windows.

Both Arkensen and Nanzaro doesn’t share friends. Weird huh? Arkensen and his friends doesn’t want to have anything to do with Nanzaro and his friends. It is Arkensen’s game with his friends and the rule is Nanzaro stay out of it. So Nanzaro had no choice but to hang out with mummy and daddy. :-)

So we drove and was planning to go to a small Malaysian restaurant in Union Square. Strange … they were closed when in fact the sign on the door says that they should be opened. I think they decided to close shop that day because of the snow fall. So we walked around Union Square and decided to go to the Bubble World.

We had never noticed this Bubble World before. I think they are new.

Bubble World … it is a franchise. You get quite a number of them scattered around Metro Vancouver. When they got started, they are more well known for their Bubble Tea outlets. However, this one is different. This one feels more like a restaurant than a bubble tea joint.

The restaurant does look … dim in that there is not sufficient lightings and not that it is supposed to be deliberately dim for that cozy atmosphere. It just felt like they don’t have enough bulbs or something like that.

Most of the people who worked there are young people and does not seems very highly trained if you know what I mean. So don’t expect great service. I am not saying that the service is poor. It is not. It is just that they will come by take your order and deliver your food.

The above is their take out menu which you can click on to enlarge it.

The prices in Bubble World are very much inline with other restaurants. Many of the dishes are in the $6-$7 region which is a range that I consider is good already. The menu is dominated with food items rather than drinks.

We are here anyway for food. We did not order any of the bubble tea drinks, neither did Nanzaro. He is not into bubble tea (because he said it is “too Asian”). He is a Coke guy.

Personally, Suanne and I don’t like Bubble Tea too. I mean it is nice once in a while but we can’t see ourselves going out just for bubble tea. We find that Bubble Tea are just over priced sugarly drinks.

So it was just food we got. Suanne had the Spicy Hot Pot (Tofu, beef tripe, veggie) which is listed under the Chef’s Special section of the menu. It is quite a deal. All the above is just $7.

This is one of the very few items on their menu that is the most spiciest. This one has “three chilis” …

… and so yes, it was very spicy hot.

Their combo meals came with rice and two sides. The two side Suanne had was mushrooms and brocolli. The sides were nothing great as you can expect but it is just nice to have sides. It makes it feel more like a deal.

The noodles are one of those taro noodles bundle. These kind of noodles are “white shirt” friendly. I am one of those people who gets soup splatter on my shirt every time I eat  soup noodles. And I hate getting my shirts washed because machine washing always stretches the shirts and loses its shape. Yeah, I wear my shirt until it smells. So sometime you could see food stains on my shirt and you will know I had soup noodles.

The worst kind splatters of soup noodles are laksa and especially Taiwanese Beef Noodles. Taiwanese Beef Noodles are the worse because the noodles are more slippery and they are thicker (heavier) and it causes more splatters.

But I like Taiwanese Beef Noodles and that was what I got. This is $8.

The serving is big and has sour mustard and bok choy. The noodles was spicy enough to keep me happy but frankly I had much better ones in a lot of places. I did not quite like the strong herbalish taste of their soup.

Out of curiosity … what is the national dish of Taiwan? Is it the Taiwanese Beef Noodles? I would think it is because this is so uniquely Taiwan.

Or maybe the national dish of Taiwan is Stinky Tofu?!?

Nanzaro’s selection was a beauty. He is getting “it” … like his dada. :-)

He had the Stir Fry Shrimp Balls with Spicy Sauce ($8). Like Suanne’s combo, this dish also came with rice and two identical sides.

It is not a big plate. The shrimp was coasted with eggs which is the kind of food up my alley. According to Nanzaro he said that the shrimp tastes nutty. Huh? Nutty? We asked him why and he said it just is.

Not bad. The dinner for the three of us was just $26 before tips.

However, the food is best described as so-so only. It is nothing great and neither is it bad.

At these prices, it is not surprising that it is cash only. So many restaurants these days are cash only and I felt that people (particularly in Asian restaurants) had accepted this inconvenience. Yeah … some people say that these “cash only” practices allows restaurants to be creative with their tax returns but yet on the flip side, given the kind of prices these restaurant charges, cutting expense by not footing the credit card charges does make a difference between profit and loss. You gotta remember that Bubble World is a franchise too.

Just yesterday when I was driving home I heard on the radio that someone was claiming that by the end of winter, 1 out of 5 restaurants in Metro Vancouver will be forced to close because of the perfect storm of HST, drinking laws and the possibility of a hike in minimum wage. When I heard it, I fear that this could very well come true. Any thoughts on this?

Bubble World (Richmond) on Urbanspoon

Business Hours:
Sunday to Thursday: 11 am to 1 am
Friday and Saturday: 11 am to 2 am

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Categorized Under: RichmondTaiwanese

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  1. Buddha Girl says:

    LOL! I think the one thing that could actually represent “Taiwan” would be Pearl Milk Tea (珍珠奶茶)…hahaha…and later someone started Boba Milk Tea (波霸奶茶)…both in Taiwan!!! LMAO!

    • Ben says:

      Hi Buddha: I want to learn more about Milk Tea … what is the difference between “Pearl Milk Tea” and “Boba” Milk Tea and “Bubble Milk Tea” and whatever variations out there? Can you explain please? Better still, perhaps you could write a really comprehensive, informative post about it on your site. I think that would be great. Ben

  2. Elaine says:

    Heheh I noticed! I was trying to go to the blogroll and it wouldn’t work for the longest time…so sad T_T

    Hahaha I love BBT! I can drink it every single day if I don’t gain weight!

    • Buddha Girl says:

      LOL! Believe it or not, one well-known nutritionist in a famous hospital in Taiwan actually have her patients, who try to loose weight, drink BBT…but a tweaked version…LOL!!! Black tea with honey and skim milk with agar-agar chunks (the real agar agar…not powder ones)…hahahah! Maybe you should try that at home!

      • Elaine says:

        LMAO I don’t like those T___T

        My favourite drinks:

        Honey Green Milk Tea + Pudding
        Passion Fruit Green Tea + Coconut Jelly
        Passion Fruit Slush
        Mango + Strawberry Slush

        LMAO all probably loaded with sugar x___X

        • Kevin says:

          烏龍奶茶 is my favourite. :)

        • Ben says:

          Hi Elaine:

          Nice list of drinks … I am gonna use your list of favourite drinks and try them one by one.
          I did not know what T___T meant and so I asked Nanzaro. Well, I know now. LOL! It seems like:
          T_T is a crying face with horizontal T representing the eyes, the vertical tears and the underscore the mouth.
          Also, T_T’ means crying with sweat or veins popping out
          Also, T_T] means crying over the phone
          Also, T_\\ means emo and I am not OK!

          Now … what is x_X?

          Ben

  3. Lissa says:

    As to the cash only. The good thing is they can keep the prices a bit lower. The bad thing is yes, they do not include some transactions in their tax returns.

    I just had something from Grill King (or something) at Lansdowne Mall the other day. The lady there used to be the boss or worker next door at Thai Way. For my transaction, she didn’t even punch it in and just kept the cash in the register. She did the same thing too when she was working in Thai Way.

    • I personally think the prevalent impression that businesses take cash only to hide revenues is just misguided. Depending on the amount of revenue that’s going to be hidden, it really is not worth it going to battle with the Canadian Revenue Agency, which has the power to make your life quite a living hell should they decide to audit you.

      Credit card/debit card charges add up and are significant. Not only that, merchants have no control over these charges and payment processing companies can change their fees unilaterally, with little or no advance notice. Of course, fees always go up and they never go down. Restaurants operate on a slim profit margin and sometimes two percentage points make a big difference, whether the restaurant survives or goes under.

      I saw that news report last night too re 1 in 5 restaurants closing down. The way it’s going, I wouldn’t be surprised. The last three to four months have just been BRUTAL for a lot of restaurants. HST, recession. . .who knows when we’ll come out of this funk, eh?

      • Crispy Lechon says:

        I agree with you JS. Having CASH only policy doesn’t automatically mean the establishment is hiding revenue. On the other hand, as with the previous commenter, I have experienced multiple times fast food stalls not punching the sale in their cash registers. They purposely leave the register open and take cash payments and give out change with the cash register remaining open. It actually irks me a lot because I’m paying HST on my meal and they are just keeping it for themselves. I said to myself if the CRA just send an agent to observe these stalls, they will definitely be caught red handed. I’m sure a lot of Chowtimes readers have seen the same thing.

        • TimeToChow says:

          avoiding cra and taxes. I havent seen it but do know it happens. This is just one of many methods that generally decent people will go through to make business more profitable.
          i do notice that alot of eating places losing money on weeknights. where the the revenues for the entire night is not even close to paying for the daily fixed cost. including many good to great restaurants.
          personally seeing many restaurants about to throw the towel in. some unfortunately are inevitable, just a matter of time.

      • Ben says:

        Hi JS:

        Regarding “the Canadian Revenue Agency, which has the power to make your life quite a living hell should they decide to audit you”.

        I had dinner with someone who used to work in the CRA doing audits. Interestingly, he told me that it is not pleasant being an auditor. He did that for a few years and then decided enough is enough and need to get out of doing that. I can relate to this too because auditors are not someone you want to make friends with. I used to work in a company and used to have lunch with someone who works in the company’s internal audit department. I said something innocently and he (as a friend) picked it up and it snowballed into a complete audit of the department. People got fired because of that. Needless to say I stopped going out for lunch with him and stopped considering him a friend. I can imagine how lonely life could be if people know you are an auditor.

        Ben

  4. TimeToChow says:

    graphics in COD:black ops are good. did you know you can play it in 3D? graphic are nice but you’ll have to keep wearing the glasses.
    :-(
    besides 3D there are games with ‘head tracking’ feature. with face tracking moving your head side to side will shift the view of the camera.
    of course there is also the new MS kinetic with some even greater features.

  5. Franklin says:

    Although this is a food blog, i think the practice to misreport revenue extends towards ANY cash-only practice in the lower mainland. I think this ‘impression’ is well-founded and do not believe most restaurants in Vancouver profit on a slim margin. It would actually be interesting to do a fictional (based on true figures) spreadsheet and see how much a typical … bubble-tea joint makes.

    Someone correct me, but if this ‘hiding-revenue’ practice is true, it forms part of the reason HST was established, since the growth of the city, its occupants and businesses and their revenues are not proportional to the cost of public services need. So businesses and taxpayers end up paying for (more of) it at the end. At least that makes sense to me in a over-simplified way.

    What angers me is when I know for a fact that a certain place is hiding revenue (I heard), and they still charge me tax when I pay cash. What??

    • Elaine says:

      The slim margin is actually really true. Although the restaurant business is huge in Vancouver, it still can’t compared to the amount of business you’d get in a big city like Toronto. Even for a lot of the busier places, they don’t make as much as you’d think. I have talked to a few chefs from Vancouver that moved to Toronto because they simply can’t make money here.

      • Slim margins, most definitely.

        On a spreadsheet, you’d think that restaurants would be able to make a decent profit — but business plans and forecasts are seldom able to predict how quickly other costs and expenses mount up once the business is in operation. A visit by a plumber because some jerk threw paper towels in the toilet? It’s at least $85, depending on the day and time of night. Napkins, toilet paper, soap, detergent? A lot of these consummables get wasted and that’s money down the drain. Chargeback by a disgruntled customer? Well, the processing company charges you at least $35 on top of the disputed amount.

        Yes, on paper, restaurants look profitable — which is why so many people go into the business thinking it’s easy money. People don’t realize how hard the restaurant business is. It’s hard enough to make a decent living at it, let alone make bucketloads of money. Keev is right: even good to great restaurants have trouble generating enough revenue to cover the costs of the day these days.

  6. TimeToChow says:

    Good point Franklin. i agree with you. and yes this is a food blog..

    Actually ALL business not only just cash only business can or may partake in this avoiding paying taxes on revenue. but you are right that they cannot avoid paying taxes if it went through their merchant account. Some busineses have two ‘cash register’ one that get reported and one that gets the ‘cash’ transaction. winkie eye..!

  7. liam says:

    Beef Noodles can be Taiwanese national dish. They sell it on the street and restaurants. It’s everywhere. Who doesn’t eat beef noodles? Unless you are a vegetarian. Stinky Tofu is not that popular and not easy to find. Not everyone tried it or likes it. You can probably find it on the street from the street vendor but not in the restaurant.

    In fact, there is no national dish in Taiwan because there are too many things people can think of and they can’t all agree on the same thing. So forget it!

  8. liam says:

    If they give you receipts, they pay taxes and are not hiding anything. It’s recorded at cash register.

    If they have employees (not include their own family), they are paying taxes. Because any employee can report his boss who takes cash and doesn’t give receipt, is dishonest at the cash register. You might even get a small reward for reporting someone.

    It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that in Canada most employees in restaurant business hate their jobs and their bosses. Just look at their attitude and service. Canada is famous for bad service. You can guess that employees are probably not treated very well by their boss. Have you heard waiters are treated well by their boss in restaurant business? You think they would help their boss cheat tax? That’s against human nature. Don’t you think? Most of them quit in a few months. Why wouldn’t they want to report the boss they hate if their boss cheats tax?

    • Ben says:

      Hi Liam: Picking up on what you said that “if the restaurant give you receipts, they pay taxes and are not hiding anything”. About two years ago, CRA caught a well known POS system supplier in Richmond that supplies zapper software that keeps two sets of books. The news article is here: http://goo.gl/3atyH Ben

  9. Lissa says:

    Ben, what’s the name of the Malaysian restaurant in union square, Richmond?

    • Ben says:

      Hehehe … I actually could not remember the name but I knew the location. I had to check with Nanzaro. He remembers this better than I do. It is called Coco Hut. We did not hear of great reviews of this place but we wanted to go try anyway. Here, Lissa … here is the Urbanspoon link where you could check the reviews: http://goo.gl/VpT1C Ben

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