Copa Cafe on Cambie and W 23rd, Vancouver


Before you read the rest of this post, just sing along to the lyrics below.

Her name was Suanne, she was a housewife
With yellow apron on her hips and a dress cut down to there
She make d’meringue and make bo-bo-cha
And while she tried to be a star, Ben always want to eat out
Across a crowded blog, they worked from 7 till 10
They were young and they had each other
Who could ask for more?

At the Copa, Copacabana
The hottest spot north of Havana
At the Copa, Copacabana
Milk Tea and Fried Rice were always the fashion
At the Copa … they fell in love

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So we went to the Copa Cafe, finally. You all probably know that our boys like Hongkong Style Cafes (HKSC for short, shall we?). That is because they know HKSC always have salted fish and chicken fried rice.

For Suanne and I, we wanted to check out the Prawn and Avocado Croissant that iPanda wrote about. Moreover, we did not even mind the long drive because we wanted to check for ourselves how good Copa is. You see, they had just won the 2009 Chinese Restaurant Award under the Diners’ Choice category of 2009 Best Hongkong Style Cafe.

Copa Cafe is located on Cambie by West 23rd. It is just a few doors away from Corner 23, a Taiwanese eatery.

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Unlike many older CCT, Copa is visibly cleaner and bright colors. I don’t know but I think they are new, maybe been in operation only the past year or so.

Having thought that this is a new school HKSC, we would have thought the service will be a refreshing change. But no. The service is aloof and fast … or should I say rushed. I guess they pride themselves as being efficient. After all, Copa is a really busy restaurant.

Moment after we sat down, the menu and the drinks landed on the table.

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We were taking our own sweet time pouring over the menus. Yeah, like most HKSC, they have several menus.

But the serious-faced waitress kept coming over with the pen poking the notepad asking us what we wanted to eat when we were still reading the menu. Maybe many of their customers are regulars and already know what they wanted. For us, we need time. You see, there is always a negotiation process we had to go through with the boys who always wanted the same time. Suanne and I kept telling them they cannot have the same fried rice. And they will keep asking why not. And we always say that we are bloggers and we must have different things. We go through this all the time and Copa need to understand that we need time to resolve this amicably.

The waitresses and waiters are well dressed and well groomed. So this is a difference compared with many HKSC.

We like the menu, as bewildering as it seems. They have lots of combos to choose from. What we like especially is that they have both expensive and cheap items. You could find $6 pork chop up to combos that is $13.

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The drinks above came with the food we ordered. I notice we all always ordered the same thing. Suanne will always go for the hot milk tea. Arkensen will stick with the simple and predictable cold milk tea. Nanzaro will opt for something different from everyone, lemon tea. The boys almost always never finish their drinks. Suanne almost always will end up drinking all of them because she hate it to be wasted.

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This is it … the Prawn and Avocado Croissant that Suanne read about and wanted so much to try. This is $7 and came with a side of mayo-drenched salad of fruits. In that salad there are potatoes, melon, cantaloupe and pineapple. If only their hands is a bit lighter with the mayo, it would have been a perfect feel-good meal.

The croissant is toasted and is unbelievably … flaky and airy. This had to be some of the better croissant we had tasted. It is so flaky that we could hear a light crunch at eat bite.

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Avocado is not common in Chinese food. However, the combination of avocado, shrimp and croissant is simple but amazing. It is all round creamy in the inside and dry brittle crunchy on the outside.

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Mr Ben had the Rib Eye Steak with Paris Style Sauce. I thought it was worth the try seeing it is only $9. With this, I get a choice of rice, vegetable and linguine. I opted for the linguine.

BTW, slightly off topic … to be spaghetti and linguine is the same thingy. OK, Suanne says that spaghetti is round while linguine is flatter but they are made of the same thing. To the uninitiated, they are for all intents and purposes the same thing.

We like the al dente linguine which is mildly flavoured with what they called the Paris Sauce. But the steak was kind of tough. I am no connoisseur of food and so it is passable for me. I actually enjoyed this even though this is no premium cut in any stretch of imagination.

I was looking for the telltale pinkishness of the meat. I hear that Chinese restaurants uses tenderizers on beef which gives it that hue of pink. I could not see it because the steak was so thin, it was cooked throughout already.

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Mr Arkensen had the Baked Seafood with Cheese on Rice. This is $9.

Suanne and I did not understand why Arkensen had been ordering these type of baked rice. We never quite fancy this because when it is served it is always too scalding hot to eat and when it cooled down, it turned into a sticky mess.

But this one is different. It was moist and lightly cheesy. We took a bite and we like it. In this are prawns, artificial crab meat, clam and mussels.

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Mr Nanzaro surprisingly did not go for the Salted Fish Fried Rice. Anyway, their salted fish fried rice is expensive at $11!

Instead he had the Stone Pot with Rice. Knowing him, I think he went for this because of the “stone pot” words on the menu.

It was served sizzling hot. He dug into it quite immediately. We thought he should have let it cook a bit more before starting because the rice was all soggy. The sauce is a little spicy but otherwise devoid of taste. Yeah, the sauce which is supposed to provide the most taste to this dish is what makes this dish something we will not order again. This is eight bucks.

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Ms You-Know-Who simply had to order the cheesecake. Expensive!

It is $8 and it took a heck of a long time to come. Although we had all the time in the world that afternoon, it took two reminding and 20 minutes before it finally came. Each time we reminded the waiter, he said that they are busy and that it is coming without checking. They dropped the order and they know it. A small word of sorry would have been the least we expect, but no. You see, they are busy and we had to understand that things like this happen. [rolling back my eyes].

For $8, the slice is small. Taste-wise it has almond flavour in it. Suanne wasn’t too happy with this saying she could probably buy the ENTIRE cheesecake from the Real Canadian Superstore for $8.

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Hit and miss is what I’ll say about Copa. They do somethings well (like the croissant) and there are things they can easily improve on (like the service). I think they meant well but it was just not right to give the impression to the customer that they are super-busy and we all have to dine to that.

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Going off topic again. When the Olympics comes around, Cambie will be one of the many corridors where street parking will be prohibited. It seems like even the side street will be affected too because there are signs that says that side street parking is strictly for residents. I think business will be badly affected during the Olympics.

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Copa Cafe on UrbanspoonBusiness Hour

Sun to Thur: 9:00 am to 11:00 pm
Fri and Sat: 9:00 am to 1:00 am

32 thoughts on “Copa Cafe on Cambie and W 23rd, Vancouver

  1. I don’t know why we keep coming back here to eat. The past three times we ordered baked seafood on rice and all three times there were problems. The first time a completely different dish arrived, the second time they claimed they burnt the dish and even though we ordered it as we sat down (for our starving kids), the dish did not arrive until a few minutes after everyone else received their food. And the rest of us took our time ordering so obviously the BSOR was not burnt but probably forgotten!! Sigh…don’t even need to explain the last. It’s hopeless. And, I never did understand why they gave us 5 teas for the six of us and they never bothered to bring us the last one the entire meal. I get the feeling they just don’t care. I never learn.

    • Change of topic, Jimmy, if I may … I tried looking up Sing-Quai but can’t find it. What is the name in English? Tell me more … particularly your other comment that says “For your information, for Chinese food, cucumber is not for stir-fry. It’s for salad or makes vinegar cucumber for appetizer or desert.”

      Ben

      • Description/Taste
        Chinese okra or sin qua, sometimes spelled sing qua, wears a dull green skin and produces ten distinct lateral ribs that give an attractive star-shaped slice. The fruit is most tender when six to eight inches in length. Having a similar texture and taste to common okra, which is not related and of a different species, the fibrous and spongy flesh offers a rather bland flavor with a faintly bitter overtone.
        Applications
        Chinese okra can be deliciously steamed, braised or sautéed. Add favorite seasonings to create an unusual and tasty side dish. Serve with cooked meats. Excellent as an addition to stir-fries and soups. Very absorbent, it will take on the flavor of any sauce it is cooked in. This okra especially loves to be smothered in oyster sauce. Pairs well with shrimp. Before cooking, trim ribs with a vegetable peeler to reduce bitterness; cut into desired pieces. If cooked, cut slices at least one-half inch thick.

      • Hi Jimmy: Thanks for the info. I googled Google Images for “Chinese Okra” the moment you gave me the English name. I see what you mean. Maybe I had never paid attention to this but I think the Luffa is not commonly found in stores. BTW, nice pictures you had there. Seems like photography is your hobby. The Manfrotto 785B is a piece of junk, huh? LOL! I have the 190XB with the 486RC2 … I hate that too. Good things not cheap, cheap things not good. Ben

      • Manfrotto is a well known manufacturer for tripods; heads. Regardless the price, they should put out products to reflex their name and reputation. For small camera and camcorder, 785B is more suitable, its light weight and easy to carry, unfortunately it a piece of junk. For large camera it should use heavy duty tripod, like the one you have 190XB or 055CX3

      • Me:

        Manfrotto 144
        Manfrotto Monopod (forget #)
        029 head
        3D Jr. head (with levers)

        We’re such photog geeks …….

  2. They cheat customers
    September 06, 2010
    Copa cafe, Cambie St. Vancouver, BC
    They cheat customers, they don’t serve what they say in the menu, they serve you cheap food and difference item as stated in the menu. I order SING QUAI stir fry with beef, they serve CUCUMBER stir fry with beef. SING QUAI is completely difference from Cucumber ; one is a higher grade melon and one is cheaper melon. its completely difference taste. when I point out to the waitress, she insist its SING QUAI, until another waitress confirm with me that’s not SING QUAI BUT SHE DIDN’T DO ANYTHING, doesn’t offer me change to another disk.I don’t feel like eating something I don’t like but they charge me the full price anyway. even the Manager don’t do anything about it. You call this a good restaurant ? YOU ORDER FROM MENU, THEY SERVE YOU WRONG FOOD, AND YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR EVEN YOU DIDN’T EAT ANY PART OF IT. Service is very poor too. very bad experience. don’t recommend anybody to cater them, will not be back and will tell my friends what they are.Its no way to do business by cheating.

  3. Pingback: Chow Times » Cafe Gloucester on Cambie and West 17th, Vancouver
  4. extremely rude manager i ever met. order steak request medium rare but is well done.request redo it and the manager was very rude. He worked March 10 at night. He was very rude and almost want to kick me out from the restaurant. I want to complaint to the owner and request his name but he refuse to give me. Extremely rude service and extermely bad food. Not recommend to go . Don’t waste your time and don’t waste your money to eat there. Is not worth it.Please listen to me Don’t go to COPA CAFE on Cambie Street. Thanks

    • I should have read your review before I go to COPA Cafe, they not only have very very service but also cheat customer. I order SING QUAI stir fry beef, they serve you cucumber stir fry beef. Its like you order filet mignon but they serve you hamburger steak but charge you filet mignon price. I agree with you 110%. don’t go there and will tell all my friends not to cater them. I have posted reviews on several food review site. Hopefully people see that and don’t cater them. let’s cater restaurant deserve the business. Thank you.

      • Hi Jimmy: You complained twice already about Copa. Once you had done it, you gotta let go and move on with your life. LOL! It’s just a restaurant. Don’t get me wrong. I was thinking that your crusade over the Sing Quai Stir Fry Beef in Copa is uncharacteristically strong … and that you went to complain over this in so many websites. I think there is another story behind your displeasure … no? Come on … spill it! 🙂 Ben

      • People like you encourage restaurant owners and operators to cheat on customers and poor services. There are many good and very good restaurants. We should point out in the entire review site and encourage people to cater them. If they can cheat on me now, one day they will cheat on you. I reviewed several sites about COPA café; they all have something bad to say about this restaurant. Think about it. !!!!!!!!!

      • Jimmy L, people like you encourage me not to take any of these comments seriously.

        People like Ben, on the other hand, encourage me to take this site seriously. Get a grip and move on with your life. Unless your life is truly that boring, the difference between cucumber and sing quai is hardly enough to spend more than a few seconds on.

      • Hi Jimmy: Oh … don’t get me wrong. I want you to have a voice on chowtimes. I want everyone to voice their own opinions and I do not expect anyone to agree with me. The only point I was calling out was I thought you are so unhappy with COPA over one dish, I thought there might be something else under the surface. Did not mean to be disrespectful and hope it did not come across that way! 🙂 Anyway, saying that “People like you encourage restaurant owners and operators to cheat on customers and poor services” is kind of hard on me … but I’ll let it slide. Respectfully … Ben

      • I have no other motive regarding this instance. All I want is to point out to the public the way they treat us as customers. As Richgirl said; if I complain in the restaurant, they not only not change the disk but kick me out the restaurant. Why go through that kind of embarrassment, I rather pay and complain outside. Let the public know how they cheat on me. Four your information, I am retired and happen to like food, I don’t mind to spend money for good food but pay for something I don’t like to eat is another matter. I eat out a lot and enjoy many restaurants (Chinese or Western food) in Vancouver area. For your information, for Chinese food, cucumber is not for stir-fry. It’s for salad or makes vinegar cucumber for appetizer or desert.

  5. Thanks for the review – good information and I like the photos which are making me hungry!

    As another neighbour close to the Copa Cafe I thought I’d share some more insights for anyone wanting to try it.

    I say go for the ‘Mini-Set’ menu if you can. Thats before 6pm and after 10pm. All the items are < 9$ and while not as large as the regular items are still more than enough for someone with a BIG appetite, like me 🙂 Plus you get a choice of beverages included with it. This way you can sample pretty much most of their offerings usually for 1/2 the cost.

    I suggest the roast-chicken (which is done in-house they said) with rice noodles and gai-lan. Great smokey flavoured sauce and large portion of chicken. How can you go wrong for 8$ with tax and take-away charge?)

  6. LMAO as a Chinese or HKnese I have gotten used to the kind of attitude I receive at these kind of places! As long as they are not TOO impolite I am just like whatever =P I always pay like 10% instead of 15% tips at these places anyways.

    Copa is actually one of my favourite HKSC’s, I love eating one of their dish, it’s beef brisket rice noodle but served dry with sauce. It’s very interesting and I love it!

    • Hi Rock:
      Most of my pictures are taken with the Canon 40D and 16-35mm f/2.8L. Are you into photography too? The thing that makes the biggest difference is the lens.
      Ben

  7. Don’t get into a discussion with an Italian about linguine being the same as spaghetti!

    All the pasta shapes are made of semolina flour (a type of wheat), and each shape has sauces made just for it. Linguine often has clear butter, oil and broth based sauces, like clam sauce. Fettucine is wider and flatter and has cream sauces.

    I’m not Italian, but I lived in a very Italian area for many years and learned where not to tread. Here’s another: NEVER admit to EVER using Ragu sauce. Red sauce must be homemade, and it is called “gravy” not sauce. There is almost always some simmering on the stove at mealtime.

  8. Ooh, I didn’t know about the shrimp-avocado croissant at Copa as it is right up my alley. The boyf seems to think the quality at Copa is a bit better than Cafe Gloucester just down the road but I think it’s hit-or-miss as well. It’s definitely more expensive, too.

    We will almost always get the mini-meals from which the selection can feel a bit cramping (cf. Gloucester) but we’ve picked our favourites. We’ll order the shredded duck-preserved vegetable vermicelli. And we may have ordered the rice?/pasta? in lobster sauce. Not bad.

    There was a promotion about a month ago where they would give you a great yellow reusable tote bag with their branding if you had things to take home with you.

    Otherwise, it’s good to have Copa around to keep Gloucester on their toes. 😉

    iCafe: I like their location and their laksa. Otherwise, I don’t end up there as much as Gloucester and Copa because their menu is even more difficult to selection from, from our experience/tastes.

  9. I am unashamedly a Manilow fan and I love your lyrics!!
    Went to a HKSC last nite near Pacific Mall…I had the chicken Portuguese sauce which was so totally wrong..mostly cheese with a sprinkle of coconut flakes. I have to admit I was smart enough to ask for the salad dressing on the side as I generally like to be able to see the lettuce, not have it masked by dressing!

  10. Aww, the food looks so nice but unfortunately it wasn’t all excellent. Stone pots are quite a gimmick with my HKSC’s. Sometimes its the same thing that would go onto a regular plate but just stuffed inside a pot instead. That croissant sure looks scrumptious though! The cheesecake looks pretty but I agree, is too expensive not just for a HKSC but for a regular restaurant for such a mini slice. 😦 I like large slices of cheesecake :).

  11. Ben – you went there for lunch right ? They are super busy most of the time during midday. Incredibly popular, sometimes even more so than Gloucester Cafe down the road. I think the hit & miss thing depends on the server. We’ve had good ones and not so good ones. But the food is always good quality, served hot and prompt, and overall good value.

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