I Cafe: Food Was Pretty Decent, The Crisp Cubic Toast Was Fun

We met up with Oliver who had been following chowtimes on the sidelines for a while. With close to 4000 unique visitors we get on chowtimes everyday, we find that only a small percentage of our readers is comfortable with commenting on the blog. There are many silent readers out there. Once in a while we get emails from readers who prefer to connect with us in a less public manner.

When I was beginning to write a bit more about our visits to HK Style Cafes, Oliver wrote to us about his current past time of trying these type of restaurants. And he had been around it seems. He took the time to write detailed accounts of his visits to some of the HK Style Cafes which we had never been before. Wow, that was awesome because this really helped us in finding new places and new dishes which would have been very difficult for us to do on our own. So, we tried Sun Yee based on Oliver’s recommendation.


Suanne and I met up with Oliver for dinner to try one of the many HK Style Cafes we had never been to before. I think we have tried every HK Style Cafe already in Richmond. However, I was surprised to learn that there are a lot more out there in the larger Metro Vancouver we have never heard before, let alone tried it.

But we have heard about I Cafe before, just that we did not bother to drive over to Vancouver for HK Style Cafe. So this was just the perfect place to check out.

I Cafe is located on West Broadway with Heather, just a bit west from Cambie. Some people may not notice this restaurant as it is on the second floor of the building. Parking is a bit tricky. You could park on the street which is expensive ($5 for 2 hours) or you can park in I Cafe’s indoor parking in the building next to it. It is tricky because if you want to park there, you gotta run up to the restaurant and tell them and they will go across the street to open the indoor garage for you. It’s quite OK if you have someone with you but if you are driving alone, it is just not practical.

I Cafe has a funny past. You see, they had been forced to move the restaurant a couple of times before because the property they were in were torn down for redevelopment. I Cafe started off in the old Aberdeen Center in Richmond. They were forced to move 10 years ago, when Fairchild rebuilt the Aberdeen Center. So, I Cafe moved to Vancouver. They were doing well on Cambie just north of Broadway. You know where the new big boxes buildings are today? That was where they were before those swanky new buildings were built a few years ago.

So here they are today, on Broadway and Heather. I wonder if they will be third time luck. LOL!


Sorry for the reflection from the windows in the picture above. This is perhaps one of the rare HK Style Cafes that has a view. Yeah, most of the tables are by the window. If you squint hard enough, you can get a glimpse of the lights from Yaletown and the North Shore Mountains. 🙂

I was just thinking that with all the windows all round, it could be uncomfortable eating here when you have bright sunlight hitting the place.

Anyway, can you think of any other HK Style Cafe with a view? I can think of one. The 7th heaven in Aberdeen.


It was sort of clean inside but I thought that the furnitures are showing their age. It sure is bright in here though. The tables are mostly booth seating. It wasn’t really fancy. I had been to prettier HK Style Cafes than this. To me, Bauhinia in Richmond is the prettiest of them all, which of course also means that they are pricier.


Yup. Same old style of menus you see in all HKSC. There are lots of menus and it’s kind of confusing sometimes not knowing where to start. When in doubt, look for the smaller ones that has the word “specials” or “combos”. They are the all inclusive ones (meal plus drink plus soup) for a better deal.


We did not bother to check the main menu thoroughly. We went straight for the dinner specials and I already have an idea what we wanted. LotusRapper was telling me about their Curry Pork Chop. That was what I wanted and it is on the dinner special. It is on the menu on the left. Click on it to show it larger. That menu is the western style specials and is $10 which comes with a soup, bun, beverage and a choice of rice or spaghetti.

On the other side is the noodle soup specials for those who wants a lighter meal. There are a few choices of ramen and fish broth for $8 which comes with a beverage. Oliver said that their fish broth noodles is good and so we got that too.


So this is Suanne’s order. Delightfully looking, isn’t it? This is the Bean Curd Fish Paste Sausage with … Vermicelli in Fish Broth. Oliver said that he always order this for lunch.

The Bean Curd Fish Paste Sausage was quite good and there are also fish cakes. The broth is milky white but not really as good as the ones we had in Jubilant which was the best by far.


This is a filling bowl of noodles with lots of vermicelli. This is the thicker kind of vermicelli and has good texture. OK, it is QQ. 🙂 There, I used that word again.


Between us, we all ordered different types of drinks that came with the food. Can you recognize them? First person who can tell me gets a pat on the back from me. Oh, and you get to gloat that you know your drinks. LOL!


Holy smokes. You are right LotusRapper. The Curry Pork Chop was really good as you said. This is $10 from the dinner special menu.

The curry was marvelous, especially with steamed rice. It is rich and flavourful. Not many HK Style Cafe does great curry and that is why I normally stay away from them. But this one I enjoyed a lot.

The potatoes were separately fried before they serve this with the curry and so that is another plus of this dish.


The pork chop too … am just surprised to find not one, but two large pieces of pork chop one on top of the other.


You know how this would have been better for me? Personally, I would love to have the curry, pork chop and potatoes served separately.

You see, the pork chops were drowned in curry sauce, therefore loose their crispiness. I can just imagine how great it would have been to just dunk the crispy pork chop in the curry just before you eat it. Hear, hear, I Cafe … serve it like that and you will own the curry pork chop market in Vancouver. Something like that.


Here is the rice that came with the curry pork chop. Not very pretty. Just plain rice on plate, sans garnishing.

Ugly. They have to just throw in a parsley or something like that.


Oh yeah, the meals came with buns. Nice looking and enticing too. The soft buns with shiny top even tasted pretty good.


It is the same choices for soup as in most HK Style Cafes — Borscht Soup or Cream Corn Soup. We had the Borscht. It was not bad and it even has chunks of meat in it which came piping hot.


Oliver ate healthy. He had the Pan Roasted Sole Fillet from the regular menu for $16. Kind of expensive but it looked dry. I did not ask him how it was. Perhaps Oliver you can chime in and describe your dish?

This came with hot drink and bun and choice of spaghetti or salad.


I thought that the lemon wedge with came with a squeezer was kind of neat. Oliver said he went around looking for this and guess where he eventually found it.

In a dollar store.

We had a great time chatting with Oliver. Besides HK Style Cafe, Oliver is big time into philosophical discussions. I am not kidding. He has a group going into heavy discussions. It was interesting for me to hear his views on some of the recent seemingly mundane topics his group had been into. Like the topic on “Honesty”. If only I have the time, I would love to join his discussion group.

Here, check out some of the topics that he facilitates:

  • What is the dividing line between bravery and foolishness?
  • What constitutes a miracle? is it a logical inconsistency?
  • Why do we worry? And what is the opposite of worry?
  • What differentiates right from wrong?
  • Manners and etiquette: Social lubricant or acceptable dishonesty?
  • What does it mean to be fashionable?

Pretty cool topics, huh? Out from our meeting, Oliver created a blog so that he can capture the points brought up in his group. Go check it out The Ideas Cafe here. No, the name Ideas CAFE has nothing to do with his interest in Hong Kong Style CAFE. LOL!


For dessert, we had this really fun item which is called the Crisp Cubic Toast ($5).

OMG. This is crazy. Look at all the condensed milk and the slab of butter on top of it! You can get a choice of topping of either butter & honey or like this one, butter and condensed milk.

This takes 15 minutes to bake and so it was quite a wait because we ordered this at the end.

Cubic toast … I had never had a cube shaped toast before. This is like half a loaf of bread.


The outer crust was very crispy. Yeah, that was great. And the inner bread is very soft. And yeah, that was great too.

But it was way too sweet for me. Suanne loved it. It is quite impossible to eat with knife and fork because if you tried to cut it, you end up squishing it down. This is best enjoyed with the fingers … and be prepared for sticky fingers.


Unlike most HK Style Cafe, I Cafe accepts credit cards.

So thanks for taking the time to meet up, Oliver. Where else should we go to next?


Anyway, here is their take out menu. Enjoy!

I Cafe on UrbanspoonBusiness Hour

7 days a week

11:00 am to 12:00 am

This Post Has 40 Comments

  1. Julie

    Hi Ben:

    I am guessing your above drinks are “almond” drink, “HK style” tea, and Ovaltine (aka Hot Chocolate) drink. Did I get them right?

    1. Ben

      Hi Julie: *Beep* Wrong answer! Sorry … no pat on the back for you. LOL! Ben

  2. mo

    My guess – HK style milk tea, Horlicks and Ovaline.

    For some reaosn, I thought the cubic bread is a lot bigger in real life or maybe it’s small servings now… man, need a break from the holiday eating…

    1. Ben

      Hey Mo: You got the drinks right. It is (from top to bottom), Horlicks, Milk Tea and Ovaltine. Remind me I owe you a pat on the back when we meet, OK? You know, I never quite like Horlicks simply because of the color. If only it is browner and not so white. Ben

      1. mo

        I will proudly claim that pat one day! are you planning to do a group meet up dinner or some sort? My friend eric (who’s a loyal but quiet reader and the one that introduced me to your blog years ago) and i would love to join you one day in a restaurant adventure!

        1. Ben

          Hi Mo: Some of us are meeting at New Town in Chinatown on Saturday for lunch if you want to join us and claim your pat on the back. Otherwise, stay peeled to an event which I am gonna post tomorrow afternoon … can’t tell you what now as I am trying to finalize the arrangements. I think that one you cannot resist not coming. Ben

  3. Elaine


    1. Ben

      Hi Elaine: Oh yeah … “O My Sweet Tooth” 🙂 Ben

  4. LotusRapper

    Oh NO ! I forgot to tell you Ben, that you can ask them to serve the curry sauce on the side (in a large gravy boat) 🙁 So sorry.

    Oh well, you and I will have to go there again next time and do things the right way 🙂

    1. Ben

      Now you tell me, LotusRapper. Hmmm … between the pork chop and the curry sauce, I can have only the curry sauce. It would be great if they serve only rice with curry sauce (like prison food!) for something like $3 and I would order that every time. Ben

      1. LotusRapper

        I know what you mean ….. a big portion of good “jup” and plain rice.

        There’s your new restaurant concept: “Jup + Rice

  5. LotusRapper

    Ben said: “Suanne and I met up with Oliver for dinner to try one of the many HK Style Cafes we had never been to before. I think we have tried every HK Style Cafe already in Richmond. However, I was surprised to learn that there are a lot more out there in the larger Metro Vancouver we have never heard before, let alone tried it.

    But we have heard about I Cafe before, just that we did not bother to drive over to Vancouver for HK Style Cafe. So this was just the perfect place to check out.”

    You also know about Gloucester and Copa, both on Cambie between 16th and King Edward. There’s also Honolulu and Kam’s Bakery on Main, Angel on Fraser, BT Cafe (new) on Kingsway …. “Banh Mi Boulevard”).

    Plus all the old-timers in Chinatown like:

    – New Town
    – Gold Stone
    – The Boss
    – Mitzie’s
    – Maxim’s

    I’m sure I missed a few more. Buddha Girl & Buddha Boy seem quite knowledgeable of HK-style cafes !

    1. Ben

      Tell me more about Kam’s Bakery, LotusRapper. We want to go there someday. We drove past it and it seems like they also specializes on wedding cakes too. From the outside it looks like their main business is the cakes. What is good there (OK, besides the cakes!).

      Oh … where is “Banh Mi Blvd”? I visited BT and Maxim’s already but will write about them later. Will be going to New Town on Saturday for lunch — want to join us there. Thomas and Oliver+wife and will be there.


      1. LotusRapper

        “Banh Mi Blvd” = Kingsway between Fraser & Knight [grin]

        Kam’s – like most Cantonese bakery/HK cafe. Has bakery section, with the usual offerings (egg tarts, buns, cakes, pastries). And the restaurant side has pretty standard HK-cafe offerings (rice, noodles, congees, baked rice/noodles, and the weird breakfast combos like Spam meat + macaroni in soup + toast, etc). And you can also order anything in the bakery to eat in the restaurant side, like a cup of coffee and a curry beef bun or something. So really, like a New Town Bakery but a bit more modern, say into the late ’80s/early ’90s, LOL.

        1. Ben

          “Banh Mi Blvd” … whoa … cool name. I am gonna borrow your term and use it for a blog post. I actually have a story in mind regarding a restaurant located within that stretch.

          So, Richmond has “Glutton Street”, Vancouver has “Banh Mi Blvd” … we must coin more names for well-known clusters of restaurants. Hmmm … what would LotusRapper call that area of ramen shops on Robson? Or the group of Korean restaurants on North Road?


          1. LotusRapper

            EASY, Ben !

            “Seoul Street”

            “Ramen Rane”
            (you’ll have to think a bit on the Rane part …..)

            PS: which is Glutton Street …. I’m guessing Alexandra ?

  6. Jaime

    Hey Ben,

    My family and I used to have I-Cafe as one of our defaults but found that it went downhill quite significantly within the past several years so we haven’t been there ever since. I am really happy to hear that you loved the food; maybe they did a bit of an overhaul on their food because your photographs display their food like it once was when it was living its glory days 🙂

    After reading your post, I may actually go and try it again!


  7. Oliver

    Great write up Ben!

    The sole dish was good. I’ve had this dish before but it was quite a bit cheaper before but the sole was deep fried then. This time it was pan fried so less batter for the even more health conscious!

    I also wonder if what these HK style rest call sole is actually Basa, a white fish from Asia. Although this time the pan fried sole may actually be sole as it is thinner and seem to have a more delicate taste to it.

    I wonder if they had to push up their prices to pay for the parking. I understand that you can call them on the cell phone and they will open the parking gate for you remotely. They seem to be able to open the gate for me remotely when I left the restaurant to go to the car.

    I agree with others that I-cafe is on the pricier side for HK style cafes but personally I would rather the HK style cafes in general get cleaner and if raising the prices a bit is required to do it, I am for it.


  8. Sunny

    I use to work in the area and the place is quite popular with the hospital lunch crowd. I remember my co-workers all ordering the Laksa and saying how good it was (I personally never tried it).

    Another place they frequently visited in the area is Ebisu but I found it expensive for my tastes.

    1. LotusRapper

      Ebisu is essentially the old Kamei, who tried going “upscale” a bit.

  9. Doris Jung

    Ben & Suanne:

    Happy New Year!

    Guess I was a bit behind in catching up with my email. Had a bit of technology challenge with my new android phone, the Goggle Nexus is such a joy to have, shoots pretty good pictures, too. Like the ones you see on my Facebook^-^
    I guessed all the drinks correctly so it shows my HK Cafe experience is quite up to par:)
    So I hope to catch you and Oliver at the New Town Bakery this Saturday, would it be around 12 noon? It’s my kids’ favorite bakery for their apple tarts and “Steamed Big Bun”. They had it for lunch when I didn’t have time to cook.
    Anton Heggen from Fraser Park Restaurant asked about the “Tea Smoked Duck”, have you connected with him yet?
    Oliver’s “The Ideas Cafe” looks interesting. I used to order the Fried Sole (yea, it was deep fried then) when I went there when they were still in the old building behind the Royal Bank and Fairchild TV, going back quite a few years now.

    Ciao for now and look forward to your email tomorrow afternoon.

    Doris Jung

    1. Ben

      Hi Doris: Yes, it will be at noon on Saturday in New Town (in Chinatown). I’ll send everyone who responded an email confirming the plans. look forward to meeting you again. Ben

      1. Crispy Lechon

        Wish I can join you but unfortunately I’m busy on Saturdays. I’ll just wait for your blog post on this chowdown.

      2. LotusRapper

        We are planning to go down to Bellingham this Saturday. Have a great time at New Town !

  10. Nancy L

    OMG. I haven’t been here forever and the curry pork is making my mouth water. I know where I’m dragging Ron very soon!

  11. Carina

    that cubic toast looks seriously scarey with the amount of butter and condensed milk on top… Got to be brave to eat that!

  12. Sam

    Hi, the cubic bread looks really delicious and the above comments very much echo this. Do you know where you can get the cubic bread in Hong Kong? My girlfriend really likes the bread and I would really like to try it too. Many thanks for your help.

    1. Ben

      Hi Sam: It’ll be a long shot if you expect anyone to be able to answer your question. Hope someone does but I sure don’t know. Ben

  13. Oliver

    Hi Ben,

    Would you believe that I just happen to be in Hong Kong at the moment and I actually saw this cube toast with condense milk advertised at a restaurant two days ago?

    At the time I thought, so, same as I Cafe.

    Of course I didn’t note the restaurant at the time. Who would have thought…….. I just thought that it is available in most restaurants in Hong Kong!

    So I am afraid I am of not much help except to say that this dish exists in Hong Kong.

    BTW Ben, on your post about Kim Ho. Keep up the good work. Disclosure is the thing in a democratic setting. We all make up our own minds with the proper information. No need to beat yourself up. Chow times is great. People can always vote with their feet as I am sure you are familiar with this term so popular here in Asia.


    1. Ben

      Hi Oliver: Nice! Hope you bring back stories of your culinary adventures when you get back. Not Cha Chaan Teng everyday, I hope. LOL! Ben

  14. Sam

    Hi Ben, Thanks for the reply. Do you know what I am referring to? Is the cubic bread/ toast the same as pillow bread (jum tal bao)? Cheers.

      1. Sam

        Hi Ben,

        Thanks for the message. This is exactly the bread I am after. Along side with the bread (as the website suggests), it comes with a variety of dips – honey, jam, etc…do you have any suggestions on where to have this in Hong Kong? Is this called pillow bread/ loaves/ toast? Do you know the approximate cost of this bread?

        Many thanks for getting back to me and for finding this bread for me…


        1. Sam

          Hi Ben,
          Further to my message from 2 days ago, there have been some suggestions that places like Pokka Cafe had it. In the past, I have been to Pokka Cafe, and don’t recall seeing it. Do you have any suggestions on its whereabouts and costs?


      2. Sam

        Sorry Ben,
        this is the photo of the exact bread I am after. Any ideas on where to eat this in Hong Kong?

        Along side with the bread (as the website suggests), it comes with a variety of dips – honey, jam, etc…do you have any suggestions on where to have this in Hong Kong? Is this called pillow bread/ loaves/ toast? Do you know the approximate cost of this bread?

        Best wishes,

      3. Sam

        Hi Ben,

        This is exactly the bread I am after. Please ignore all my other posts as I replied to the wrong message.

        Along side with this jum tal bao (pillow toast/ bread) (as the website suggests), a variety of dips should be accompanied – such as honey, jam, strawberry, condensed milk etc…it can be tried by many different dips/ spreads.

        Do you have any suggestions on where to eat this – some people say any bakery, but through futher investigations places such as Maxim’s (interestingly) don’t have this. Do you know the apporximate price/ cost of the bread?

        I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

        Kind regards,

  15. Karen Dar Woon

    Hi Ben and Suanne.
    When I worked in the neighbourhood, I used to have lunch at Kams quite often. My favourites were the soup noodles and the sizzling pan noodles. They also have a few varieties of sticky rice wraps, which I would take away. Kams is still one of my preferred bakeries for bbq pork buns.

    1. Ben

      Hi Karen: It is always an honour to have you comment on our website. I don’t think I have ever met you in person before, have I? Kam’s is certainly not too bad. Too bad it is so far away from home. Ben

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