Weekend Musings (27-Feb-2010): Announcing Restaurant Explorer

What a week for Canada!

After two weeks of sports, I am getting a bit fatigued from being glued to the sports event day after day. I am just glad that it is coming to an end — and to a high note too! We all woke up this morning having topped the Gold medal standing for the first time. If all expectations goes according to plan, we will even stretch the Gold medal lead.

Which leads me to think that Canada should abandon the American way of determining the medal leaderboard by taking into account the number of medals won. We should follow the rest of the world is ranking it by medal types.

Games Gold Silver Bronze Total
Summer – 1984 Los Angeles 10 18 16 44
Summer – 1992 Barcelona 7 4 7 18
Winter – 2002 Salt Lake City 7 3 7 17
Winter – 2006 Turin 7 10 7 24

Whatever it is, we are at the verge of attaining the most Gold won in BOTH summer and winter Olympics.


Restaurant Explorer

Ryan made a great suggestion. He asked the chowtimes has a Google Map of all the restaurants we had visited before. This idea was first done by Matt on VancouverSlop which was adopted by CBC’s website (Matt is a genius in these sort of things!).

So here is our implementation of our idea. You can get to the Chowtimes Restaurant Explorer by clicking on the Restaurant Explorer link at the top of the page. I made that link with a RED background for now just to show you guys it’s there.


The page is still under construction — and it will be while before we retroactively populate all our old restaurant visits. There is, after all, over 400 Metro Vancouver restaurants to go through. Don’t hold your breath!

This this what we have implemented:

  • A 1-liner description of the restaurant
  • Picture(s) of the food we tried
  • Address and phone number of the restaurant

The other features are standard Google Map functionality which we have little to no control over … like “Get directions”. This interface of this embedded Google Map does not behave exactly like if you got to http://maps.google.com … so this is a bit more clunkier and sadly harder to navigate.

But please have a look at the Restaurant Explorer and let me know what you think. ANY feedback is very much appreciated. We just want to build something that is of use to you readers.

Thanks a lot to Ryan for this suggestion. [Sorry Ryan, we still have not found a way to make this fit a 1024 x 768 screen — which we know represents a sizeable 17% of our visitors].

Hope you like it.

Chowtimes Mentioned on Jennifer 8 Lee’s Blog!

OK. it was just a little mention on Jennifer 8 Lee’s blog … a small mention, no link juice for chowtimes.com but still it is a big deal to Suanne and I.

Jennifer 8 Lee is who we want to be when we grow up — not that we will want to at this time. Fancy being invited to speak on a TED conference one day where Suanne speaks on her Underground Restaurant venture. That would be a day right, Suanne? LOL!

We felt so honored!

Delicious Flags

To close off this week’s musings, here is a series of national food made in the image of its respective national flags. It is from a chain email we received from Minoo which we find very interesting. Look over this and let me know if you agree that the food is a fair representation of the food you normally find in the country.


From Australia, the Australian Meat Pie which is a favourite and common take away snack.


Brazil. OK we see lime and maybe banana leaf at the background. What is the diamond shape part made of? Pineapple? This one we stumped us. That shows how little we know about Brazil (or for that matter South American) food.

The only thing I can think of at the mention of Brazilian food is beef …. mmmm … churrasco! I am sure Brazilian Cuisine is way more than that.


China. This is kind of odd. Firstly the Star Fruit. We did not realize that the star fruit is native to China (not that we know where it is from).

Then the background … it seems like Bak Kwa (Suanne’s recipe here) but we thought it is more South East Asian than it is China. Any one can help?


Viva la Francai! The French flag is represented by Blue Cheese, Brie (which is also the name of a French province) and grapes.


Greece, the cradle of Western Civilization … home of the Olives and Feta Cheese.


India, the land of diverse spices and intense tastes is presented by saffron colored curry, shredded coconut and spinach. The Ashoka Chakra in the middle is represented by … a piece of pappadum. Nice. Makes me hungry.


The Indonesian flag is simple and represented by rice and chili sauce. A little trivia on the origin of the Indonesian flag. Did you know that the Indonesian flag is derived from the Holland red-white-blue tri-color band? You see, Indonesia was once a colony of Holland. When Indonesia was clamoring for her independence, the sign of protest is to rip off the blue band at the bottom from the Holland flag.


The Italian flag is made out of basil, spaghetti and tomato. So apt right?

Anyway, the Chinese had always assume that the pasta originated from China and that Marco Polo brought home the Chinese noodles from his travels. But I know … the Italians will swear that this is totally untrue. I know how exasperated it would be to the Italians to have to defend this Chinese-origin assumption.


Other than the Indonesian flag, no other flag in the world is more simpler. The flag of the land of the rising sun is represented by an uncommonly round Sushi.


Korea, or more specifically South Korea is shown with a top down view of the Gimbab. There is no debate as to the origin of the Gimbab as it is derived from the Japanese maki sushi. But the Korean Gimbab is distinctively different from the Japanese version. The sauces which made up the ying-yang symbol is a mystery to me.


The Lebanese flag is represented by chopped tomato sandwiching the pita in the center. The parsley in the middle takes place of the cheddar tree.


It is difficult to represent Spain with it’s rich cuisine. Also, did you know that there are several official version of the Spanish flags? The red-yellow-red bands are consistent with the coat of arms in the middle that changes over time. The Spanish flag is made up of the Spanish Chorizo and Paella.


Not many people realize this. The Swiss flag is the only square shaped flag in the world. Anyway, the flag of Switzerland is represented by Swiss Cheese and … cured meat?


Last but not least, the flag of Vietnam. Do you recognize the fruits? The star fruit is simple. The lighter red fruit is Lychee and the hairy larger one is Rambutan.

Sorry, no flag of Canada. Maybe it’s because … well … we don’t really have an internationally recognized cuisine to call our own. Is poutine and bannock considered a cuisine?

That’s it for this weekend, folks. Have a good one and …


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  1. wyn

    Oh, I’ve wanted something on your site like Restaurant Explorer since chances are I want to try something new in an area I’m not familiar with and I don’t know if two restaurants I heard of in Richmond are at different ends from each other and what other good alternative is nearby. Thank you so much!

    The flags are so great! Thank you for sharing the meme with us since it hasn’t made its way into my inbox yet. Very yummy flags. πŸ˜€

  2. freckydee

    Hi Ben & Suanne
    Long time reader, first time poster! I’m a fellow Malaysian (Hakka) in Australia…so G’day from Down Under! Love your blog & the recipes in it and if I ever make it to back to Vancouver, there are a few places I would love to visit!
    Anyhoo…as for the Chinese Flag…the red stuff is Dragon Fruit – Pitaya…and I’ve done some research for you… which (according to Wiki) is Native to Mexico and Central and South America but grown in Southern China. As for the Starfruit, (also according to Wiki) they are a species of tree native to Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka..not sure why they would use the fruit for China’s flag but perhaps coz of the words “Dragon” and “Star”?

    1. Ben

      Hi freckydee: Your explanation sounded a lot more convincing than mine! Thanks for chipping in and comment.

      1. freckydee

        Heh Heh…No worries Ben. I love finding out more about the origins of food, fruit, etc…Just had a closer look at the Brazil flag and I think you may be right. The diamond shape part looks like Pineapple with half a passionfruit on it…both native fruits of Brazil πŸ™‚

        1. Lala LooLoo Lily Lay

          Btw, these pics are from Sydney food festival. Sydney is lucky to have many immigrant cultures that mesh well together via cuisine. Our favourite reality T.V. is masterchef.

  3. Thomas

    I wonder what Libya’s flag would be like with food. Truly the simplest flag in the world.

    1. Ben

      Oh wow, you are right Thomas. I did not know that Libya’s flag is just ONE single color.

  4. Vox

    Canada flag needs to be made with ham. Maybe two layers on each side and a maple leaf shaped slice in the middle (covered in maple syrup, of course!)
    If only we could find a way to work beer into the mix πŸ˜‰

  5. Julia

    Hi there!

    It was not a surprise to me to see Brazilian flag made out of fresh fruits! For sure that is a pineapple representing the yellow part of out flag.
    The Brazilian cuisine is very very rich and churrasco represents the south of our country.
    If you’re interested in any tip from our cousine, I’ll be glad to help.

    1. Ben

      Hi Julia:
      Alas! Someone who knows about Brazilian cuisine. Are there any good Brazilian restaurants you can recommend? The only thing I can think of is Samba but it is Thai owned. Would love to learn more about it. And thanks for letting us know about pineapple. I googled the origin of pineapple and was very surprised to learn that it is native to Brazil (and Paraguay). I always assumed it was native to to Hawaii and the Pacific islands!

  6. miraj k

    canada flag idea:
    crushed ice soaked with icewine +
    maple-leaf shaped candied salmon? or alberta beef carpaccio?

    and i believe the white stuff on India flag may not be coconut. it’s cooked basmati rice.

    1. Ben

      Hi Miraj K:
      I like your idea of Canada flag!

    1. Ben

      Hi Jason: Now that you mentioned it, I remember you doing it on EatVancouver.net. There was a lot of restaurants you have there!

  7. Eat. Travel. Eat!

    The Olympics have disturbed me a lot these past weeks from blogging and the like :). Good job Canada on winning ice hockey!

    Those flags are so creative! So pretty too.

  8. LotusRapper

    Well the Canadian flag could have two rectangular slabs of Indian Candy (smoked salmon) on the sides, with cranberries in the middle in the shape of the maple leaf πŸ˜€

  9. Canido

    I am from Indonesia and I didn’t know the origin of the Indonesian flag. Lolz! =)

    Great post~

  10. Kevin

    Not 100% sure, but the chinese flag looks to be made of all fruit. Starfruit on top and dragonfruit (dyed red) on the bottom. The seeds give it away.

  11. Ed Lau

    …that India flag looks freakin’ delicious. Switzerland and Japan too.

  12. player

    the china flag background is made from dragonfruit..

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