Pajo’s Fish & Chips in Steveston Village, Richmond

Arkensen is on his 2 weeks of spring break before resume school in early May. Out of the blue, he just craves for fish & chips. So, I brought him to Steveston Village for lunch.

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A sculpture on display along the board walk from the wharf towards Pajo’s Fish & Chips.

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Pajo’s Fish & Chips is a floating restaurant. We arrived just before noon and the place was not too busy. Twenty or more minutes later, this place was buzzing with customers which includes tourists, students and policemen.

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Seatings are available on the floating restaurant and on the board walk as well.

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Here’s what Arkensen came for. He ordered the one of each large fish & chips for $16.99. The fish includes cod, salmon and halibut.
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The Diner at West Point Grey

In lieu of watching the Royal Wedding of William and Kate, Polly and I decided to go for an English breakfast for our cake meet. We found an English diner at West Point Grey with 53 years of history.

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The English diner is simply called The Diner. You will not miss it as the Union Flag decorates the front of the the diner.

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There is a scale model of the Tower of London bridge complete with a state coach and horses that decorates the front of the diner.

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The interior of the diner is decorated with lots of photos of the Royal Family and memorabilia like plates and cups featuring the Royal Family, red English telephone booth, etc. The moment you enter the diner, you will be struck by the royal blue booths and tables cloths. You can click on the photos to view them at larger size.

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Of course, the recent addition to the decor are wedding photos of William and Kate.

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Back to food, we must have … Continue reading

Dine Out Vancouver 2009: Elephant & Castle Restaurant – Delta Vancouver Airport Hotel

Updated 18th Nov 2010: This restaurant has been closed according to Urbanspoon.

Polly and I also take the opportunity to go for a Dine Out Vancouver meal in place of our regular cake meet. Since we can only go for lunch as Polly has to pick her twin daughters from school before 2:30 pm, our choices is very limited. We ended up with Elephant & Castle Restaurant at the Delta Vancouver Airport Hotel which offers the lunch option from 11:00 am.

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Elephant & Castle Restaurant is on the banks of the Fraser River and has a panoramic view of the oceans and mountains. Parking is free if you dine in the restaurant.

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Unfortunately, it is a very foggy day and the view is very limited. Nevertheless, the mistiness adds a sense of mysteriousity to the dining experience.

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Elephant & Castle is North America’s leading British Pub and Restaurant chain across Canada and United States. This location has a fairly large seatings on 2 levels. It has a bar and thus minors are not permitted.

Elephant & Castle offers a 3 course menu for the Dine Out Vancouver 2009 for $18.

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For appetizer, we opted for a soup and a salad. Polly and I decided to share our dishes and we asked the waitress for extra bowl to share the soup. The waitress is kind enough to serve the soup in 2 different bowls and gave us extra serving plates for sharing for the rest of the meal. I like their services. Back to the soup, the soup of the day is Seafood Chowder. It’s a creamy soup with salmon, prawn and potatoes with crackers served on the side. It’s quite an ordinary chowder.

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There is a choice of Classic Caeser Salad and Tossed Green Salad in Raspberry Vinaigrette and we opted for the latter. We like the flavour of the vinaigrette which is very fruity. Continue reading

London Series: The Pheasant Pub and Restaurant

A trip to London is never complete without a visit to a pub. The word pub is short for Public Houses and has been a traditional establishment in Great Britain. This is where the community gathers in social settings and where alcoholic drinks are served.

There is a pub around where my hotel is, about 10 minutes walk. Many people in my company recommend that I try this place as they serve very good meals too. It’s called the Pheasant Pub and Restaurant. I went just as the sun set and took a few HDR shots of the colourful pub. This is one of my favourite HDR shots. It’s so sharp that I could literally see into the windows (click on the picture below and see for yourself). I heart his shot.

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Pubs sell a wide range of beers, wine and soft drinks. I did not get any alcoholic drink as I went past the bar and straight to the back of the pub where the restaurant is. There were hardly any moving room as there were some soccer game on the TVs. I think it was the Euro 2008 Qualifying matches going on. The English are so soccer crazy … OK, football crazy.

I am surprised with the wide range of food served there. I expected this to be a lot of snacks and finger food but they are all full meals. There were a lot of deliciously sounding menu items that I find it hard to decide what I want.

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I had the image of pubs being a smoking place. I am glad the restaurant section had no smoking signs all over. Anyway, I place my order at the counter, paid up and was given a wooden ladle with the number “11” — that was my order number. When they come around shouting my number, I am supposed to put the ladle up to show the server that it’s mine. How’s this for informal dining?

Hey, errr … the three squeeze bottles, I am sure they are color coded and for a Brit they know what’s in it. I can guess that the red one is ketchup and the yellow one must be mustard (them Brits love their mustards, don’t they?). But what is in the one in brown? If I hazard a guess, I would say it’s BBQ sauce … am just guessing.

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What’s the pub grub I ordered? I was a bit adventurous and ordered the “Best English Calves Liver and Bacon”. It came in a large squarish plate. The meat were served on top of some of the tastiest mash potatoes I had tasted and there were lots of it.

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London Series: An English Breakfast at Guidos

I had a full day all planned out in London. I wanted to climb the dome at St Pauls, visit the Westminster Abbey and the Victoria & Albert Museum. These are the places that I missed visiting the last time I was in London because I timed it all wrong.

When I was planning for this trip I wanted to include a visit to a place that serves traditional hot English breakfast. I simply think that English breakfasts are the best — definitely not the healthiest but sure the best.

I found one place near the St Paul’s Cathedral called Guido’s. What drew me to this place is the smell of frying bacon. Oh man … that smell so good …

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It’s small, cramped restaurant and looks exactly like the place that a Londoner would go for their breakfast — seems authentic and not some touristy restaurant to me.

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I ordered their Full English Breakfast. The toast were buttered and toasted well done … or in Suanne’s words over-done! I like it. Hey … by the way … what is your opinion … is it true that such over-toasted bread is carcinogenic?

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London Series: Chicken Tikka Masala from Sipson Tandoori

I was so intrigued. When I first heard that the national food of England is Chicken Tikka Masala, I thought that someone was pulling my legs. In a few days I was in London, some people (mainly Indian taxi drivers) told me the same thing too. Here is what I learned the past few days — let me know if I get this correct.

Masala is an Indian term that refers to a mixture of many ground spices. What does the word Masala mean? Spices? And Chicken Tikka Masala is really invented in Great Britain. So, I figure since I am in London I must simply try the national dish. :-)

I had blogged on the Sipson Tandoori the last time I was in London here. I vivid remembered making an unkind remark about the “pretty dumb” paper bags the delivery came with. I had the tendency sometimes to be brash, I admit. He he he … the paper bags I guess will always be there but at least this time, the curry did not leak all over the place.

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Got a question for you, Rukya. How many pieces does people normally order the papadam? When I ordered ONE piece, the person who took my order sounded so surprised. I mean, the papadam is such a large piece that one is more than enough for me. Guess what, when they delivered to me, they game me four pieces. Hey, I have no complain. I must say that Sipson’s papadam is simply one of the best I had tried … they are so crispy and flavourful … and they tastes just as good the next morning. 50p per piece but they charge me only for 1 piece — nice!

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You know, most curries looked and tastes the same to me. So I really can’t figure out what Chicken Tikka Masala is. It looked and tastes like Butter Chicken but am sure it is not. Rukya, can you tell us about Chicken Tikka Masala? Continue reading

London Series: Room Service at Sheraton Skyline

Despite the perceived excitement of managing projects with remote teams and having to travel often to different sites, all I can say that it’s not as glamorous as it seems. For sure, there are benefits & opportunities to this job but sometimes it really takes a lot out of me. I am not sure if I can do this for life. Here is how it was like one of the days I was in London.

I was already struggling trying to keep up with a highly technical 8-hour training course each day. Mind you, the course starts at about midnight Vancouver time — a time when I should be soundly asleep in bed.

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Needless to say, it’s hard trying to stay awake sometimes. I must have taken something like 10 cups of coffee over the course of the day. I tell myself this is bad for me but I could not help it. After a couple of days, I was really sick of the coffee from the machine in the training rooms and bought “real ones” from the cafeteria.

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Right after that training, there were three conference calls that I need to get on. That three conference calls took a total of 4 hours with the first one starting at 6:00 PM (LON time) and the last one completed at midnight. I stayed in the office the whole time because I did not want to take conference calls with my cell or the hotel — it would have been enormously expensive to do so. Moreover I always need to take conference calls hands free.

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I did not even get the chance to grab dinner because the cafeteria had already closed. That one day was a really long one. At least the calls that day were “easy” ones — ones that I was not beaten up on. :-)

By the time I got back to my room, I was famished. All the restaurants are closed at that time and what I had available is the hotel’s room service. There were not much choice on the menu — just pizza and grills. The Grilled Beef Sirloin Steak sounded good … 10 oz some more … just what I needed.

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London Series: Breakfast at the Sheraton Skyline

I told you I’ll blog about food today … here it is. :-)

I stayed in the Sheraton Skyline Hotel in Hayes, just next to the Heathrow Airport. This is very much a business class hotel with very little tourist. It seems to me that people who stays here are very much people who works for the airport or aviation industry.

I had some of my breakfasts in the hotel’s Al Dente Cafe.

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The cafe is very spacious, bright and cheery. I don’t know … to me this makes a difference in setting the day right. I always wanted to have an unrushed morning breakfast in a bright place and a newspaper to catch up on the news. And like to have breakfast alone … hate people talking to me during breakfasts! :-) So this is perfect.

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Service was excellent in the Al Dente Cafe — very prompt and polite. Somehow I wish every place is like this. I noticed that service is much better in such business hotels in that people dresses better and the customers are working professionals. Also, perhaps these type of customers tip better because they could expense the tips. I don’t know …

First came with a cup of coffee and a glass of orange juice. The coffee is really strong and smells good. A characteristic of a good cup espresso coffee is the layer of crema … and this has it. It’s a big cup too. Fantastic.

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London Trip Report Day 8 “Pork Roast in Greenwich”

I asked Paul (a Londoner) what would be the one traditional English food that I should try while in London. He told me that would be the Sunday Roast. I expected the answer to be Fish and Chips and have never heard of the Sunday Roast before. So, I told myself I should try that before I return to Vancouver. I found one in Greenwich — on a Saturday.

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Day 8 is a Saturday. This is my last full day to do sightseeing before I leave for home the next day. There were so many places I wanted to visit, most of all the museums but I thought that it would take too much time. So, I decided on doing the river cruise to Greenwich, attend the Euro event in the Canary Wharf and visit the British Museum.

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I started the day by making my way to the Tower of London to catch the City Cruise.

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The City Cruise from the Tower of London to Greenwich costs only about 4 GBP. In all it took 30 minutes. It’s a double decked boat.

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The cruise was not packed even though it was a Saturday. Everyone obviously took seats on the upper deck. It gives a better view.

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Just as when the boat departed, the bridge on the Tower Bridge was raised for a small sailing boat to pass through. Good photo op!

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London Trip Report “Dinners”

Well, the fun ended and it’s back to work and training for a week in London. It was not easy at all.

The 4-day training was a serious, no-nonsense affair. Considering the time difference between Vancouver and London, I had my training starting at 12 midnight! It was pretty tough staying awake.

By the time the training ended at 5pm, that’s when the people in Vancouver and Atlanta starts their working hours. The emails keep pouring in — there’s no way that I can take it easy at all. So, dinners for those days were quickies around where I stay.

DAY 3 — ROOM SERVICE

I was dead tired on this day and was really hungry. I couldn’t bring myself out for dinner and instead called for room service. I wanted meat but the selection on the menu had only one real meat item. I can’t believe it.

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I can’t recall what this is called. It’s half a chicken with roasted chilli paste on it. Although the serving was not huge but I did not finish it at all. I guess I was not really in the mood to eat. I hardly touched the fries at all.

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This costs 16 GBP.

DAY 4 — DELIVERY FROM SIPSON TANDOORI RESTAURANT

For this night, again I did not feel like going out for dinner. Instead, I ordered delivery from a nearby Indian Restaurant called the Sipson Tandoori Restaurant . The delivery came in paper bags which I thought was pretty dumb. It was because the greasy curry were spilling all over the insides and very seeping out — it was a mess.

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I ordered three different items. I had the Balti Chicken (7.95 GBP). The Balti is cooked with light ginger and garlic, tomatoes, peppers and onions with freshly ground spices and herbs. It was thick, rich and flavourful.

I also ordered the Mixed Vegetable Curry for 2.80 GBP and Pilaw Rice for 2.10 GBP. The Pilaw rice was great because it has been a few days since I had rice! The pilaw rice is basmati rice cooked in ghee.

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On the side, I ordered the Garlic Naan for 1.95 GBP. Naan is leavened bread baked in clay oven. It goes well with the curry.

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The papadum was free. Should be crunchy but it was quite soggy.

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It was a good dinner.

DAY 5 — BEST ENGLISH LIVER AND BACON FROM THE PHEASANT PUB

Having eaten in the room for the past two days, I decided to walk to the nearby pub for dinner. I have never been inside a real English Pub before. It was an experience. Apparently food is sold in the pub at the back. The menu was extensive and the serving were huge.

I decided on the Best English Liver and Bacon because (1) it says that it’s Best, (2) it’s English, and (3) it’s liver! There were two big pieces of liver which was quite tasty, I must admit. The bacon was different from what I am used to in Canada. Here the bacon was a piece, not in strips.

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Pheasant Restaurant and Public House on Urbanspoon

DAY 6 — IL BASILICO ITALIAN RESTAURANT

On the second last day of the training, the company paid for a dinner in a nice Italian restaurant for all the attendees. We went to the Il Basilico on Sipson Rd.

For starters, we had mozarella, kalamari and mushrooms.

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For the main I ordered chicken with fusilli (can’t remember the real name).

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Here’s the attendees of the project management course. Most of the attendees are from all over Europe and are PMs in airport systems. There are only two attendees from North America.

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For dessert, I had ice-cream. Oh yeah, I also had for the first time in my life a half glass of the Italian Grappa. Whew! It was strong … 50% alcohol content!

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We had a great time and had a lot of learnings from each other over the week.