Cafe Medina on Beatty Street, Vancouver

Updated: 20th Nov 2014; Cafe Medina had moved to Richards St., Vancouver.

Life is good — especially not having to work on Fridays.

So, after the boys went to school, Suanne and I went to have a real nice breakfast. I just love those unhurried mornings. It is unhurried because it felt like a bonus day off and I had nothing specifically I need to do.

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The Medina Cafe is located just next door to the Belgian restaurant, Chambar (our previous reviews here and here). The address is 556 Beatty Street and is just outside from the Stadium Skytrain Station.

Look at the stacks of food by the window (above). That is what Medina Cafe is known for … Belgian Waffles.

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Suanne and I went to the Medina Cafe. We had been wanting to go there for a long time but could not because … well … it is not exactly a conducive place for a family breakfast. I don’t know, I felt it has a Parisian Cafe feel to it.

The Medina Cafe is super busy. They will only take reservations for parties of six or more. So if you are in a smaller party of six, you could be in for a wait during mid mornings on weekends. I have heard that waits could be up to 1 hr.

We did not have to wait. We were early. Moreover, it was on a Friday. But we got a really crappy table. It was the only one clean and it was by the door. So, each time someone walks through the door, the freezing draft hit us directly. We had our coat on the whole time.

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Suanne had coffee — the largest 16oz Latte which is $3.60. The latte was … well just latte. I had always wanted to learn how to do that fern thingy.

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I tried to be fancy right?  So without knowing what it really is, I ordered the Moroccan Mimosa.

The menu said that it is “Fresh OJ infused with cinnamon and fig”. No mention of alcohol.

Mimosa as I learned later is a mix of orange juice and champagne. Not nice. I did not like it. I just felt that liquor and orange juice is not a good mix. But I finished it nevertheless. The reason is simply because this is $8.

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The Medina Cafe serves breakfast and lunch only. Breakfasts starts at 9AM to Noon while lunch is from Noon to 3PM (4PM on weekends).

The menu is not very big. Two columns … one for breakfast and one for lunch. That’s it. But each item is interesting and so it was hard to choose.

Service wise, not good. They are busy and you need to flag them down if you wanted anything extra. But when you got their attention, its OK.

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As simple and humble the Belgian Waffle is, this is the hero of our breakfast. This is what we were here for. It is $3.15 for the waffle and an extra $1 for the fig orange marmalade.

But the waffle is so … Continue reading

The Dutch Wooden Shoe Cafe on Cambie and W17th, Vancouver

It’s breaky time again.

For a change we decided that we would go all the way to Vancouver to check out the Dutch style breakfast at the Dutch Wooden Shoe Cafe. I still remember having eaten Pannekoek for breakfast when I was in Amsterdam two years ago.

Yeah, I know. Some people tell me that Pannekoek is eaten for lunch and supper, not breakfast in the Netherlands. But to us, it is pancakes and we Canadian eat pancakes for breakfast. :-)

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The Dutch Wooden Shoe Cafe is located on Cambie around the intersection with West 17th Ave. It’s easy to spot the restaurant. The outside has this faux Dutch windows with flower boxes.

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The inside has a Dutch ambiance and coziness to it. But the place does look old. The dining room are partitioned into three distinct sections giving this large restaurant a small restaurant feel.

I heard that this very Dutch Wooden Shoe Cafe is the origin of the De Dutch Pannekoek House franchise that you find all over BC today. So, if you like De Dutch, you should check out the real deal here.

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The restaurant has a very homey feel to it. It is haphazardly decorated with wooden clogs, paintings and Dutch posters. Along the wall, they have pictures of their past customers lined on a strip on the wall with cute comments written on them.

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We started off with the normal coffee and hot chocolate. However on their menu, they have a half page showing the “GIANT” Coffee Mocha for $4.25. Yeah, they capitalized the word GIANT but at the same time they also put the word GIANT in close inverted commas. It was not in anyway giant, but is sure is “GIANT”. It was quite normal.

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There is a large section on the menu dedicated to Pannekoeken (the word Pannekoeken is plural of Pannekoek). We all pestered Nanzaro to agree to get the Pannekoek because we wanted to order something other than Pannekoek. He flip-flopped a few times on what he wanted. First he wanted the Nasi Goreng (fried rice!) Pannekoek. Then he changed his mind to Curry before finally settling on the Cheese Lover’s Special.

The Cheese Lover’s Special has five different type of cheeses … Edam, Gouda, Swiss, Cheddar and Mozzarella. We felt that this is really expensive because to us it is just a thin layer of pancake with 3 slices of tomatoes on top of the cheeses. This one is $12.15. Their other Pannekoeken ranges from $11 to $13.

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On every table is quite a large bottle of syrup meant for the pancakes. That all-black bottle stands out and so we had to try it on the pancake.

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For me, I had the Nasi Goreng and Eggs ($10). You did not hear this wrong. The name Nasi Goreng is … Continue reading

The Naam on West 4th and MacDonald, Vancouver

From being a family who usually have light breakfasts at home, we find ourselves going out for breakfasts quite a number of times lately. All this started since we first went to Bon’s Off Broadway which serves one of the best $2.95 breakfast in town.

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Frankly, Suanne and I are not big fans of breakfasts but we got to make it up to Nanzaro who was still mentioning about him missing the breakfast in Bon’s. So we woke up bright and early last weekend and went to The Naam. What we did not tell Nanzaro though is that Naam is a vegetarian restaurant.

Naam starts serving breakfast at 6AM. You might think, wow, it’s early but actually they are opened 24 hours. The Naam is located on West 4th Avenue near the intersection with Macdonald St.

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The beauty of going there early at 7AM is the quietness. The place exudes that kind of morning calmness with people enjoying a big breakfast, hot cup of coffee with a book in hand. The wooden varnished tables and casual decor adds to the charm of this place.

It was not like that for long. By 8AM, this place was absolutely buzzing with customers and getting service from the waiters is a true test of patience.

You know, you can’t just build a restaurant with these kind of ambiance these days. The total mood, character and experience we see here is built over the 40 years that The Naam had been in existence in the core of the Kitsilano neighborhood.

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The Naam has a big breakfast menu. You could probably imagine that it took us a while before we finally settle on our selection. Anyway, if you can’t read the menu above properly, click on it for a larger image.

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Hot Coffee and Hot Chocolate was $2.50 with free refills of coffee. The hot chocolate cup had a paper napkin tied to it. We were wondering why they did that because this is the first time we had seen anyone doing it. Does anyone know if there is a practical reason for this?

The hot chocolate was pretty good. It tastes like it is made with cocoa powder and is unsweetened. We like it this way but knowing Nanzaro, he hates it. To him, hot chocolate is not supposed to taste this way and it has to be sweetened like those you find in Denny’s and IHOP.

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The Naam describes themselves as a “Vancouver’s Oldest Natural Foods Restaurant”. They pride themselves as saying most of everything they serve are made in premises, using pure and fresh ingredients.

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Nanzaro opted for the Breakfast Quesadilla ($9). It has red organic corn tortillas with scrambled eggs. You can opt for tofu instead of eggs.

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You got to hand it to Naam. Their breakfasts are … Continue reading

$2.95 Breakfast at Samosa Garden on Kingsway, Vancouver

Updated: 26th Nov 2014; This restaurant is closed.

We don’t normally eat out for breakfast. Breakfast at home is usually a simple affair of coffee and toast. Sometimes when Suanne feels like it, she will make a couple of sunny side up eggs. That’s all there is to our breakfasts.

However, earlier this month we went to Bon’s off Broadway for their $2.95 breakfast. At that time, we thought that they have the cheapest breakfast other than the IKEA $1 Breakfast. We were so wrong.

Since then we discovered that there are more places where they have $2.95 breakfasts. Tana of the Cheap Appetite blog reported that Yummy Sushi in Vancouver also have a $2.99 breakfast. That one looked very good.

Last week, I also found another place which is serving $2.95 breakfasts. Samosa Garden, located on Kingsway just west of Boundary, is more known for their buffet lunches has recently started to offer breakfasts too.

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They open for breakfast early at 7AM. I was the only customer the whole time I was there.

Samosa Garden used to be a very popular Indian buffet restaurant many years ago. In my previous company, we often chose to go to Samosa Garden when we have a team lunch or something like that. These days, I have not heard of anyone going there anymore. Instead, I know people are going to Saffron which is a couple of blocks away.

I remember that almost ten years ago Samosa Garden were so popular that the Malaysian Prime Minister actually ate here when he was in Vancouver.

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The setting was good. It was dark, cold and raining outside the morning I was there. It sure felt like Fall these days.

With being the only customer, I felt unrushed. It is just the way I love to start the day — slow and unrushed.

By the way, the $1.69 coffee was just OK — not great but just OK.

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Samosa Garden have a lot more breakfast options. Besides a few choices of omelettes, they even have traditional Indian breakfasts. I was there to check out their $2.95 breakfast … so yeah, I got that even though the traditional Indian breakfasts looked more interesting.

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The breakfast consists of scrambled eggs, two sausages, hash browns, toasts and interestingly, sweet grapes too. The breakfast was quite good. The two sausages is small Continue reading

$2.95 Breakfast at Bon’s Off Broadway in Vancouver

Nanzaro loves camping. He signs up for every camp that he comes across. I don’t think he is bothered with what the camp is just as long as he goes camping. It could be leadership, survival, physical education, flying … anything. So over this long Thanksgiving weekend he was off again to another camp.

He needs to be at the Vancouver Meeting Point at 8:30AM. So we thought for once we take that long drive to Vancouver and have our breakfast before dropping him off.

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I have heard so much about Bon’s off Broadway and of their $2.95 Breakfast which includes GST. I can’t think of any breakfast cheaper than Bon’s in Metro Vancouver other than IKEA’s $1 breakfast.

We planned to wake up extra early and be there at their opening time of 7AM. When we got there, we found out that they only open at 8AM on weekends. Well, there was no way we could have breakfast and then drive to Nanzaro’s drop off point on time. So, I suggested that we take him to breakfast in McDonalds or something, drop him off at the meeting point and then the rest of the family return for the breakfast in Bon’s.

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Understandably, Nanzaro was upset because he was looking forward to the breakfast here. I had hyped it up the night before and shown him some pictures on the web.

So we ended up going to a nearby Tim Horton’s and got him a breakfast sandwich. And he insisted on having COFFEE to go with the sandwich, not hot chocolate. No siree. He is not going to take no for an answer because he was still fuming mad about not getting to eat at Bon’s. So we let him — that was about the only way to make it up to him.

We dropped him off. The moment he sees his friends, the whole issue was all behind him. LOL!
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Bon’s Off Broadway is located at the north intersection with Nanaimo. It is easy to locate, just look for the bright red sign and awning.

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We got back to Bon’s at 10 minutes past their opening time, so there were some tables open. “Anywhere!” someone shouted the moment we walked in. So we grabbed one of the remaining three tables available. Our waiter asked if we wanted the menu. I guess most of the customers are regulars and therefore do not need a menu. We need it for sure.

Bon’s off Broadway is obviously a neighborhood restaurant. You really don’t need to dress up eating here. It is very casual and nothing pretentious. The decor is garish … with neon lights in odd places and old movie posters slapped all over the wall. No frills. We like the casualness.

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We had coffee and hot chocolate. The are free refills but you should not expect them to come by your table regularly to fill it up for you. They are just too busy to do that even though they did fill it once for us. Many people just helped themselves with the refill. Truth be told, their coffee was nothing to shout about.

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One would have thought that a $2.95 (including taxes!) breakfast would be just plain toasts and eggs but this is a full-on substantial breakfast served on a large plate.  Just look at that picture above. The only thing you should overlook is the fact that the plate is all greasy and that it is chipped — not one but in several places. LOL!

Service is slow. Our orders took over 30 minutes to arrive. We were OK with that because we had read reviews about this issue. To their defence, it is not that Bon’s service is slow but it’s just that there are a lot of tables to serve and breakfasts to prepare.

For $2.95 we got two eggs done anyway we want and a choice of … Continue reading

IHOP on No 3 Road, Richmond

Oh … I am so swamped with work these days that I had no time for the blog. I would be so drained by the time I got back to work, I would sometimes fall asleep in front of the TV with the notebook on my lap after dinner. So yeah … the blog is furthest from my mind now.

So for the past couple of weeks we had been going back to our favourite restaurants.  We did not need to find new places to blog about. It was good to be normal for a change!

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We went to IHOP over a month ago. That was how much backlogged we are in writing about our dine out experiences.

IHOP would not have been my first choice but Arksensen and Nanzaro insisted that for once we go for a non-Asian breakfast. So we went to a place closest to our home. It is the one on No 3 Road and Park Road.

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This IHOP has an open kitchen right in the middle of the restaurant. So it smell of frying bacons and brewing coffee the moment we walked in. It is like a perfect morning smell.

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One thing that struck me was how all the IHOPs that we went to so far are the same. They even uses the same bronze color flasks for coffee and the four syrup dispensers. It is not just with the Vancouver area IHOPs but it is the same in all the IHOPs we went to before in Washington state, Georgia, Nevada, California and Pennsylvania.

By the way, do you know why they call IHOP the International House of Pancakes? It is because they serve German, French and Swedish styles pancakes. They are also known for their French toasts and Belgian waffles. Now you know.

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It was coffee for the adults and … Continue reading

Barcelona: Breakfast at Danone

7th day in Barcelona.

It was our last day in this city.  We had a plane to catch to Seville (or Sevilla in Spanish) in the late afternoon.

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We saw Danone the day before when we were at Dia-gonal for breakfast.  It was a restaurant that looked very different from those we had been to so far.

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We found out that this place is the first and only Danone retail outlet.  And we were quite surprised to learn that while Danone today is a French company, it actually was originally founded in Barcelona.  That was 90 years ago.  The name Danone is a Catalan name for Daniel and is named after the son of the founder.

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In this showcase outlet, there is a small section that showcased Danone’s history and products.

I guess most of you would know of Danone’s brand names.  They are big on yogurts with Activia is a common brand of yogurt in Canada.  We always have Activia in our fridge at home.  Other famous Danone product is Evian.   Continue reading

Barcelona: Els Encants Vells Flea Market

We really did not know what to do on our sixth day in Barcelona.  The highlight of the day is lunch at one of the new fine dining restaurant that showcases contemporary Catalan cooking.  The day of devoid of a theme, if you may.  It will be a slow, unrushed day.

Suanne had a little accident the day before.  It had never happened before and it just had to happen when we are on vacation.  You see, she lost the tiny screw on her glasses.  Without her glasses, she is technically blind.

We tried fixing it in the hotel and the only thing that we had that is small enough to hold it together temporarily is … dental floss!!  Since Suanne can’t see, I had to thread the dental floss … and you know that this sort of things are not meant for a guy to do right.  I mean, men are not wired for this type of fine motor stuff.  Frustrating work I must say but got it on finally.  It was quite a neat job too if I must say so myself.

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The hotel concierge told us that we could try El Cortes Ingles to fix the glasses permanently.  There is one about 3 blocks away from the hotel at the Placa de Francesc Macia on Dia-gonal.  It was too early and the shops were not opened yet.  So we had breakfast at one of the many coffee shops peppered around the round about.

We went into this place called Kilimanjaro which is modern and spanking clean — but still as smokey.  As usual we had Cafe Con Leche.

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The service was “excelente”.  I think the guy took care of us better because we are tourists.  It was supposed to be self-service but he came around where we are to double clean our table and asked that if we wanted anything to just ask.  We felt good — nice young man.

We had chocolate pastry …

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… and croissant sandwich with ham and cheese which was a little toasted.  The croissant sandwich was delightful.  The crusty sandwich with cured meat was equally great.  Breakfast was €9.55.

I remembered it was a very relaxed breakfast like we did not have anything to do in the whole morning.  We took our time and looked out the window … people watching.  Dia-gonal is a really busy street.  There were cars, people, buses, bicycles just bustling here and there.

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After breakfast we took the subway to the flea market.  It was just a few stops away and so we thought we might as well do this.  The flea market is located at this huge flyover which from the looks of it is the only flyover in the city.  It is here there is the Torre Agbar which looks a lot like the Gherkin in London.

The Torre Agbar is perhaps the tallest building in Barcelona.  You can’t see clearly from the picture above but it is lighted with thousands of LED lights which gives it a hue of colors.  The window panes are automatically controlled by temperature sensors.   Continue reading

2nd Spanish Meal: Breakfast at Mercat La Boqueria

We went back to La Boqueria because we wanted to check out the market in the morning.  The last time we were there, it was in the late afternoon and half the market was already closed.

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We are going to look for food, specifically for our 2nd breakfast.  It was supposed to be a “savory breakfast” and consisting of items like the potato omelette or sandwiches.

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We were right.  There were a lot of food outlets here.  All of them are small with bar style seating.

Needless to say it was crowded.  It just happened that a couple was just about to leave when we walked past the above stall.  Good timing.

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This place does not look like they serve “savory breakfast”.  Anyway, since people are having this in early morning, I guess we’ll have the same too.  The food on display at the counter is so enticing.  Look at the prawns …

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… and the octopus.

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Despite the crowd of people, they sure worked very slowly.  Sitting at the bar looking at them preparing just the orange juice, it took them like 5 minutes to get that prepared.

One thing we noticed about the orange juices we had in Spain, they are all freshly squeezed orange juice.

We ordered a little something as snack.  We ordered the … Continue reading