Enjoy Cafe 1+1 on Westminster Highway, Richmond


Things did look very bleak in my little world today. There were just bad news all around.

It was all over the news. Most of you know that Lumiere and db Bistro Moderne is closing in a couple of weeks. It was all over the news … the papers, the internet, the radio and even the TV.

I do subscribe to notification from Urbanspoon about restaurant closures and of late I see quite a lot of that. It had been busier than usual for us having us to update our old posts of restaurants that is now closed. Yeah, it had also been quite a shock for us to learn that one of our friend’s restaurant is also closed.

Well, to make it bleaker, a number of friends of mine who I had the privilege to work with over the years were suddenly let go. Frankly, I was quite shocked and had been left scrambling getting new key project resources up to speed.

Then my boss just had to travel across continental USA for a meeting with me and one other colleague who are the only two in Vancouver who reports to him. And of course you can guess what I had in my mind. I was thinking that perhaps he was coming up to serve “T” notices. Well, nothing of that sort happened but the timing just sucks.

So yeah, it had been tough for me, both mentally and physically. Not having a lot of fun these days. I just felt that all the bad economic news down south is slowly catching up to us here in Canada.

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Last week, I also learned about the closure of a restaurant that I never thought would be affected. I always thought that it is the expensive restaurants that will be affected more. Restaurants like e-Canteen which serves huge meals with low prices and free beverage will continue to draw in customers.

Not so.

I read in Gastrofork (here) that e-Canteen is no more. In it’s place is a new restaurant named oddly the Enjoy Cafe 1+1. As odd as it may seem, it does have a ring to it.

Frankly, Suanne and I did not quite like e-Canteen but we do go there many times. As a matter of fact we even have two blog posts about them here and here. The reason we go there more than we like is simply because Nanzaro and Arkensen likes it, not to mention it is in Richmond.

For those of you who are not familiar with Richmond, Enjoy Cafe is located on the second floor of the strip mall along the Westminster Highway a little east of No 3 Road.

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The place looks pretty much the same. Suanne said that they have exactly the same light metallic chairs. I thought that the fabric on the booth seats were just replaced. Other than that it does look the same but a tad cleaner and shinier.

Suanne claims that the servers and workers are new. I was not sure. I thought some of the faces were like I had seen them before … not sure where. Anyway, one thing I noticed about the servers that are new is that they all wore purple.

Service was spotty. It was obvious that they were a bit overwhelmed with the Saturday lunch crowd. I am quite surprised how busy they are even though it is new. I guess low prices and huge servings always draws in customers no matter how the food is.

You know, we had food and drinks for the table next to us delivered to our table not once … not twice …  but three times. I think they got the table number mixed up. Perhaps they entered our table number for the customer next to us. I was kind of slow – not in my usual quick to capitalize on the situation. If only they deliver our neighbor’s food to our table again, I told my boys that we are going to quickly take a spoonful and ask question later.

Like Dee of Gastrofork, we also wondered why the “1+1” name. So I asked the waiter but we were like “gai toong ngag gong” (like a chicken speaking to a duck). He can’t understand me nor can I understand him. The only thing I picked up was … “new owner” … “opened for 1 week already”.

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Enjoy Cafe 1+1 is a Hong Kong Style Cafe. First and foremost in my mind was how similar or different is the menu compared with e-Canteen. I found the e-Canteen menu (on Urbanspoon) and did a cursory comparison.

The menu are basically the same although not identical. The sections are the same but with Enjoy Cafe, the number of dishes are lesser. What sucks is that it is 30 cents to 50 cents more expensive compared to e-Canteen’s menu. It wasn’t a big deal to us as the quantum is not really much and by and large the overall prices does feel reasonable.

For instance, take a look at the menu page on the top row, left most. That is the Steak Combo menu. With Enjoy Cafe, the price is $1.00 more and they have less combo choices. While e-Canteen offers 26 different options, Enjoy cafe listed 15.

Like e-Canteen, one thing to note is that the price of dishes are $1.00 extra at prime meal time from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Personally I don’t think such a practice feesl right. I think a restaurant could give a discount during off-peak hours but not charge extra during peak hours. I know it all depends on how you look at it but it just did not feel right to me.

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The free beverages came with all the dishes we ordered. I am not sure if they are free with every dishes here but it sure felt like it.

Suanne’s order is the hot milk tea which she said has a strong enough tea flavour. The weird thing is the design of the cup. It is square and the handle on the left you see above makes you drink from a a very wide brim. This is obviously designed by someone who had no idea about ergonomics.

For me, I had the Ying Yang, a mix of iced coffee and tea mix. Also it was quite a strong flavour. I actually like it even though I read a review somewhere there that it was all diluted. I don’t find any of that.

Arkensen had coke and Nanzaro want to be one up on his brother. He asked for Coke with Lemon. They had been on each other’s nerve the whole morning. I saw Arkensen folding his arms, push up his glasses and roll his eyes back when Nanzaro asked for Coke with Lemon … and Nanzaro said “and what’s wrong with that, Goh goh?”.

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I decided to order from the Steak Combo section even though I know it is not going to be so great. I had this so that I can see for myself how it is like since the Steak Combo is right at the front of the menu.

It is a good deal. From the choice of 15 items, you can choose 1 item ($8.00), 2 items ($9.50) or 3 items ($11.50). With e-Canteen this was $1 cheaper but at this price, it was still OK.

I opted for the 3 choices and had the rib eye steak, pork chop and chicken steak. These are the first three items on the list and so it must be the more popular ones.

For the sides, I opted for fries over rice or spaghetti. I know my boys would want the fries. The fries turned out good to them. They told us that it is “quite good for a Chinese restaurant”.

As for the sauce, there are five to choose from. I picked the black pepper sauce because it was the boldest tasting of all. But I did not even use it.

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Look at the size of the steaks. There are three very large pieces, each bigger than my palm.

Suanne told me that the server did not ask for the doneness for the rib eye steak. I am not surprised at a place like this. While the steak are large, it is not thick.

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I love the chicken steak. It was moist and tender.

The pork chop was quite OK but the rib eye … or rather the “rib eye” was not good at all. I had a couple of bites of that and left it. Suanne insisted on packing it to-go even though I said I am not going to eat it at home. Yeah, she doesn’t waste food. She will eat it even though no one will.

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My order also came with a choice of soup. It was either Russian or cream soup.

The soup was OK creamy and not bad tasting although I did not expect much really. It has that token pieces of ham and corn.

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Dee highlighted the one interesting item on the menu although she did not order this. When I told Suanne about it, she decided to TOFTT even though we had no idea what it is (everyone say thank you to Suanne).

This item is called the Strawberry and Sour Pork from the Chinese Set section and costs $10.80. The Chinese name on the menu is a direct phonetic translation for strawberry – “see-doh-beh-leh”.

Huge serving was our immediate reaction. It is actually “goo-lo-yook” with a twist …

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Instead of using pineapple for sweet and sour pork as some places do, they uses strawberries instead. And I think it was a brilliant idea as it does give this common dish a nice little difference with that noticeable strawberry taste.

The only draw back is the outer part of the pork is not crispy. The idea was there but the execution is less than desirable. Yeah, maybe next time we will bring our own strawberries to a better restaurant and order sweet and sour pork and asked the restaurant to use the strawberry instead.

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As much as Suanne and I thought this was good, Arkensen and Nanzaro who usually loves sweet and sour pork would not touch this. They said strawberry is not supposed to mix with pork, adding that Chinese are weird.

There were so much pork that we had lots lots of leftover to go.

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Arkensen had the Slice Beef with Satay Sauce with Instant Noodle in Soup which is the cheapest we ordered that day. It was $7.00.

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It has some cabbages and the noodles are “doll noodles” which is just Hong Kong-speak for instant noodles. You know why they are called “doll noodles”?

Arkensen said it’s good, just like any HongKong style cafe.

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Nanzaro initially wanted the Fried Rice with Shredded BBQ Duck but changed his mind and ordered the Seafood Yee Mien in Hot Pot ($7.50). The flip-flop I think is another of his manoeuvre to irritate his brother. Arkensen just hates it when Nanzaro tries to be too clever and curry the favour of mum and dad. Hehehe … I think Nanzaro knows all of Arkensen’’s buttons.

This dish is kind of weird. We think they did not cook the Yee Mein in the hot pot. We think that they cook it in the wok and then just serve this is a hot pot (and perhaps in the process charge is 50 cents extra for the hot pot serving).

It has various seafood like squid, prawn and scallop. The peas and carrots went to mom.

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Like e-Canteen, Enjoy Cafe opens early at 8:00 AM and closes late at 1:00 AM.

They accepts credit cards which is good. You need to pay at the counter though for credit card.

While I was researching for this post, I stumbled yet on another Vancouver area food blog. It is called My Food Bliss and that blog also has a review of Enjoy Cafe 1+1. Isn’t it wonderful how many food blogs there are out there? I have a feeling that there are a LOT more that I had not come across yet.

Enjoy Cafe 1+1 on UrbanspoonBUSINESS HOUR

7 days a week

8:00 AM to 1:00 AM

38 thoughts on “Enjoy Cafe 1+1 on Westminster Highway, Richmond

  1. This place sucks, even worst than e-canteen. The food tastes so bad in here and bad customer service. At the end our bill was $31.92 and we had 3 people. I was the only one who had exact change so I paid $12. My other 2 friends only had $20 bills so they each paid $20 so the total was $52.00. Then this waiter took it and came back with only 8 cents so we went like wtf? We paid 2 $20 bills and 2 $5 and 2 $1. The waiter kept saying that we only had paid 1 $20 bill, 2 $5 and 2 $1. We were sure that we paid $52 because my friends each only had 1 $20 bill in their wallet. So I told the waiter to check the camera and he said that the camera can’t check at the area we were sitting. I found this is very ridiculous and non sense. Never ever going there in my life.

    • Hi NoID, it’s your word against theirs. I don’t understand why you guys didn’t just give them $40 to pay for your $31.92 bill and your other 2 friends can split the change afterwards. That way, this mishap would not have happened. Lesson learned I guess!

  2. I thought I’d give this place a try. I think the curry was watered down for it had no taste and had the consistency of water. The coffee-tea mix was also very weird tasting but I can’t describe how.

    I am a big fan of Alleluia and I haven’t found anything better yet. Anyone have other suggestions to try? (=

    • Hi emmy: I know it is just personal preferences but like the e-Canteen before Enjoy 1+1, I did not like both of them. My boys love it because of their salted fish fried rice and that was the only reason we went back. We had been to Alleluia many years ago. Just once and never went back. Not that we did not like it. Just that we never gotten down to going back. I heard they have AYCD (all-you-can-drink) Milk Tea! Other than Alleluia, we like Lido the best for Cha Chaan Teng (HK Style Cafe). We also like Kam Do for its value and huge servings. Both are not classy restos like Alleluia. Cattle Cafe (in Richmond and Burnaby) is very popular. If there is places I would recommend you check out, it would be this one http://goo.gl/ttfql and this one http://goo.gl/Qr0V7

      • Hi WS: They are not yet opened as of a few days ago when I drove passed them. I did see that the interiors are quite well advanced already. They even had chandeliers up … yeah, strange … chandeliers in a bakery! If I may ask, why the curiosity since you live thousands of miles away from Vancouver? Ben

      • Sometimes I wonder myself. I told you before, I don’t check food blogs from my town with any regularity(there’s not a very active food blogging scene, & there’s limited coverage of Asian eats). I think I just have a fascination with Asian food & eateries(including bakeries).

  3. Hi,

    Went to Enjoy Cafe for lunch last week. They had the heat off! It was cold as hell in there. I can’t even recall what I ate. It was cold. It was minus 2 in Richmond that day.
    Dumb.

    • I was there during that time too, the owner told me their air-con/heat broke down for about an hour. So I’m pretty sure that wasn’t intentional lol.

  4. Hi Ben,

    I just saw a comment on gastrofork’s blog that might answer your question for the name.

    Credits: aantyy
    March 1, 2011 at 8:07 pm
    For me the name 1+1 enjoy cafe is very good.
    It’s easy to remember and short.
    e-canteen in Chinese used to call 1 canteen, so I think the
    owner just basically add another 1 to show that they are going to do better than before.

    I also tried Enjoy Cafe a couple days ago and thought the 1+1 name totally fits the idea that it is better!

      • I also have another question about this place. This last cafe (forgot the name) used to be a part of the 1st Ave Restaurant Group (<– another still remember this? the other member restaurants are: bubble tea place in Rupert; Shanghai place across from Grand Honor Hot Pot, 1st Ave restaurant on 1st Ave & Renfrew, and others i couldn't remember)

        I heard that 1st Ave restaurant is 'Switching hands' … My question is: can anybody provide a status update on this restaurant group and its restaurants ??

        thanks

  5. It is sad to hear that many small businesses are closing down especially the service industries, the HST just take the wind out of their sails. I saw many stores are boarded up closed in Chinatown, it is very sad.

  6. Hey Ben, sorry to hear about your coworkers. We recently had major layoffs in my company as well. It really is a rough time worldwide right now and I feel the worst has yet to come.

  7. Sad to hear Lumiere and db Bistro Moderne are closing. Just passed by the restaurants the other day whilst going to Mistral & they were pretty packed for a Monday nite. Wonder why they are closing?

  8. Hi Ben:

    I don’t mean by pry (well, OK, I do), what is it that you do? I hope everything is going to be fine with business…

    I love HK style cafes, there used to be just one here in Colorado and it’s now closed down (I can relate to your feelings!) Whenever I go to one, I usually like to order something like Pork Cutlet with Ketchup, it’s just done differently than a western fried steak dish, don’t you agree? The other dish I usually opt for is Beef Chow Fun, or Gohn Chow Ngou Ho (excuse my Cantonese spelling), it’s the best in HK style!!

    • Thanks LS. Things are fine. I am a project manager working in the aviation industry. Oh, you have to come to Richmond and experience for yourself the many HK Style Cafes, many of them specializing on one thing or another. Ben

      • I would love to go to Richmond some day! In fact, Ben, your blog has inspired my idea of moving to Canada when I retire, lol. Here’s major TMI: I even dreamed one night of meeting you and Suanne, though I have no idea what you really look like or how exactly to pronounce her name, lol. Just wanted to say your blog is food to my mind every day!

      • Hi LS: Suanne’s name is pronounced as Sue-Anne. Many people call her Suzanne. You know, we are beginning to really feel that chowtimes does touch people’s life which is something we still cannot fathom. Vancouver is an awesome city … it is pretty and as a matter of fact has constantly been voted as the best liveable city in the world. Today’s view of the mountains was just jawdropping with half of the mountains covered in snow. A sight to behold. Ben

      • That’s what I keep hearing, Ben. But what I don’t hear enough is if it’s real easy to move to Canada, lol. how did you end up there, especially in Richmond? You’re so lucky. Tell Suanne I said hi~

      • Hi LS: I would think it is easy for Americans to move to Canada but am not sure. Certainly easier for Americans than any other nationalities. How did I end up in Richmomd? Drawn to food and availability of Asian store is perhaps one of the reasons. Ben

  9. First it was Morton’s, and now it is Lumiere, both are my favorite. Service and food are top notch at Lumiere, even better after the change over. I’m so sad to hear it go.

  10. Hey Ben,

    Pretty certain they cooked the Yee Mein separately, before placing in the hotpot. In fact, did they even bother to heat the pot itself (i.e. did the food come out sizzling?) =)

  11. Hey Ben, thanks for the mention on the post and trying to make sense of the 1+1 in their name! And you’ll definitely have to thank Suanne for me for TOFTT!

    I hope you’re feeling better 🙂

    -dee

    • Oh no … this is all so sad. We like Shabusen a lot because of the AYCE Korean BBQ. It IS that bad out there, isn’t it, Doug? You guys doing alright?

      • We’re doing better then last year. Our sales has increase 20% this year compare to 2009 and 2010. My restaurant didn’t rely on alcohol sales and our prices stayed the same. We also did some smart advertisement for dine in and deliveries.

      • So Shabusen Japanese & Korean BBQ Restaurant in Granville is closing? what about the one in Downtown? i did not hear about this..

        I might want to go there with my friends before it closes…

        Please provide more info and updates…

        thanks

  12. I hate to say it, but perhaps the cheap prices that E-Canteen had were the reason for it’s demise. Many restaurant owners can’t make enough profit margin on dishes even if there is high volume. If they are barely scrapping by, any unforseen increase in food prices, rent, employee wages…etc… can push them over the edge. Owning a restaurant is a very difficult way to make a living….. I wouldn’t be able to do it….. too many uncertainties.

  13. I forgot to mention something about the Strawberry and Sour Pork, I saw that dish being prepared on a Hong Kong cooking show on Fairchild TV a few weeks ago. Usually there’s at least 1 year lag between when a show airs in Hong Kong to when the same show airs on Fairchild here in Canada, excluding specials TV events.

    So I’m guessing the Strawberry and Sour Pork dish may have been circulating in Hong Kong for 1 year before coming to Vancouver.

    Personally, I’m fascinated on how dishes migrate from one part of the world to another and if there are tweaks to dish along the way. So seeing your report on Strawberry and Sour Pork being here in Vancouver was a real treat.

    • I remember being served strawberry and sour pork 5 years ago in my high school cafeteria. I thought it was weird, but it was my Caucasian chef teacher who thought of doing so… not sure if he had another source that gave him this idea/recipe.

  14. I’ve think the original brand of instant noodle offered in Hong Kong was the Doll brand, but now everyone calls all instant noodle “doll Noodles” regardless of the brand, we do in my house.

    Kinda of like how Kleenex is a generic term for tissue paper.

    I think you still can buy the original Doll brand of instant noodles.

    • Hi Christina: I thought “Doll Noodles” is a generic name and not a brand. I did an image search … is it how a doll brand instant noodles look like?

      • Hi Ben,

        That’s it. “Gung Juh Mein” is now a generic term but it did start out as a brand. Maybe back in the day it was the only brand available for a long time.

        I think I saw the doll brand at T&T.

      • when I was kid I remembered the first successful brand of instant noodle in Hongkong is this Doll brand with sesame seed oil which you still can buy it from grocery store. I think it is still the one of the most popular instant noodle in the market still- the original favour w s.oil. The populality of the brand synonymous for instant noodle which is why HongKongese called the noodle “the doll noodle”. Everyone knows what is means.

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