Pearl Castle on Sexsmith, Richmond

Ever since we started going to and blogging about Bubble Tea places, we see a name that keeps popping up on comments from our readers. The name is Pearl Castle. I guess lots of people likes Pearl Castle and after our visit, we realize the reason why.

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Like most Bubble Tea places, Pearl Castle is very much an Asian youngster’s hangout. These days we actually enjoy going to these Taiwanese Bubble Tea Houses as compared to Hong Kong Style Cafes. For one, Bubble Tea Houses generally have better decor and cleaner.

Pearl Castle is located on 3779 Sexsmith. It is actually on the same strip mall where Ellie is. I can’t remember the name of the strip mall at this moment.

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Pearl Castle place always get very crowded at night. We went early as usual (at 4:30PM) when the place is just half full.

There is a certain class to this place and I can see why it is so popular. Pearl Castle is by far the hippest Bubble Tea house we ever been to. But the draw is more of their food.

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Pearl Castle have a large drinks menu as expected. Their food menu too has a good variety of food. Arkensen and Nanzaro are beginning to want grown-up drinks … coffee. We’re OK with them getting this once in a while and seeing it’s a weekend too, we guess it’s alright.

They got a Coffee Bubble Tea and a Mocha Bubble Tea. The size they got above is large but it does not look large to us. To us it was expensive at $6 each.

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I spotted a dish on the menu marked in RED that says EXTREME Spicy Hot Pot (yeah, with the word EXTREME in all caps). I simply have to get this one. This $9 dish came with rice and dessert and served in a hot pot on top of a little stove to keep the soup warm.

They even have an extra small plate of chili sauce in case you wanted it even more spicy hot!

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The soup is EXTREMEly spicy. It’s so spicy it burns the tongue. In the soup are pork slices, sausage, tofu, cabbage and fish cake. The thrill of this is just the spiciness. If you love spicy food, this is it.

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Rice came served in this funny looking one side bowl. This dish has a fun factor of 10 out of 10, if you ask me.

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All the dishes came with this small bowl of dessert. It is Coffee Jello with beans. I like the Coffee Jello but personally I don’t like the beans.

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Suanne ordered the House Special Stew Pork which costs $8.25. It is a big piece of fatty pork … sinfully delicious! (more…)

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Corner 23 on Cambie, Vancouver

You know, ever since we stepped into Flo Tea Room, my attention is now focused on BBTs. I have come to learned that BBT is short for Bubble Tea in foodie-speak. It is very much like AYCE and HKSC and TBN.

Come to think of it, we serious foodies must unite and make up a glossary of foodie acronyms. Tell me if you know of any foodie acronyms and I’ll compile a comprehensive list and post it.

OK, I admit. Other than AYCE, I made up HKSC and TBNH. Can anyone tell me what is HKSC and TBNH? LOL!

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Bubble Tea is so Asian. I am not sure what exactly it is that makes it appealing mostly to Asians. Whites drink Starbucks and I had hardly heard of any self-respecting Gwei-lo’s liking it. Strange. I remember we once bought some to the office for our visitors from Atlanta. Those guys did not even touch a single cup although they kept asking about that little black balls in them.

Anyway, Jenny of My Secret Eden recommended to us her favourite BBT place. Corner 23 is located at the … well … corner of 23rd and Cambie. It’s easy to remember the address. Parking seems to be a problem when we went there as there are very limited and tight parking at the rear of the restaurant.

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We were kind of surprised that there are so many wait staff in this place. And all of them are very young looking too … like I mean, where is the adult supervision in this place? LOL! Actually they were really helpful bunch of people and have lots of energy. I was rather impressed with them all.

Corner 23, like most BBT places, is also a youngster hangout which means it is quite noisy. We did not mind at all.

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I know it is winter now in Vancouver. But wanted to try something new. We had BBTs already the last time so we opted for Slush instead. Their Slush’s costs $4.75 each. So we got ourselves a Tangerine Lemon Slush and a Lemon Yogurt Slush.

The Tangerine Lemon Slush has a citrus-ey taste as expected. However I cant taste any yogurt in the Lemon Yogurt Slush. They are fun drinks … that’s what it is to us.

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Ahhhh … a chip off the old block. Nanzaro also gets brain freeze drinking slushes … just like his dad. You know, he will grow up to be exactly like me … that’s my boy! LOL.

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Corner 23 has a rather extensive menu. If you are new to this place and do not know what to order, just flip over to the “Classical Taiwanese Dish” section of the menu. Pretty much everything you like about Taiwanese food is found here.

We did not even bother with this section. We already know what we wanted. We wanted exactly the same things that Jenny had when she blogged about it on her website.

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If there is only one dish you are going to order, this is the ONE. Formally known as Wan Luan Pork Hock, you can just call this Pork Hock and they will know what you want. If you get this, please … please … please … keep this a secret from your doctor, OK? I never let my doctor know I dig this artery clogging good stuff.

This is unbelievably tender and fatty … simple awesome. We ordered the small one ($9) but they also have it in larger serving ($18). I can handle a $9 guilt but not the $18 one. (more…)

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Liu’s Taiwanese Restaurant in Richmond

Updated: 21st Dec 2014; This restaurant is closed.

Update 20-Sep-2010: This is an old post. There had been a lot of changes since at Liu’s. Please follow this link to read the latest post.

I don’t know about you. For me, I always expect to see Bubble Tea, Spicy Beef Noodles … and innards that they serve as appetizers in Taiwanese restaurants. I don’t think I had ever been to one Taiwanese restaurant where they do not have at least one of these on their menu.

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Jesse recommended that we go try his favourite restaurant here in Richmond. For a person who works in the food industry, I assumed that he knows what he is talking about. The restaurant he recommended was the Liu’s Taiwanese Restaurant.

Liu’s is located in Union Square in Richmond. It is actually just next to Richmond Sushi. We did not even know there is a restaurant there. You see, it is sandwiched between one of the more famous (I did not say best) sushi AYCE and a busy Chinese supermarket. Moreover, the entrance is obscure of large pillars.

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Liu’s is nothing special from the inside. It was clean as expected and so no complain there. As usual, we went early as usual. There were hardly anyone there when we went in at about 11AM which is their opening time everyday. So, we got very fast service.

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There were lots of milk tea choices on their menu, about 70 items altogether of various combination. Of note was the their House Special Milk Tea which is served with Whipped Cream — unique huh? The House Special Milk Tea is $3.50. Pearls are 50 cents extra.

Mmmm … they were quite good. It was sweet but not overly sweet … but certainly overly rich. I really recommend you try this but don’t fall in love with this super fatty milk tea.

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Liu’s have a Special Combo section on their menu. On the surface it does look like it’s a good deal with each combo priced at $9 to $12and each having choices of two or three items. With that much food, we opted for three combos to share between the four of us.

We had taken to liking these sorts of appetizers, particularly pig intestines. These pig intestines are so pungent that we could smell them bringin to our tables. Is pungent good or bad? LOL! I have absolutely no idea but we gobbled it down real fast.

The Stewed Pig Intestines were part of the combo that also has Stewed Beef to Noodles (or to me, it is called Spicy Beef Noodles).

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The Stewed Beef Noodles are just so-so … just OK. The broth is quite disappointingly clear. Real good soup here should look like this here from Lao Shan Dong (left) and No 1 Beef Noodle House (right).

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It was not spicy … I just like this type of dish real spicy. (more…)

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Flo Tea Room on Granville, Vancouver

Updated: 21st Dec 2014; This restaurant is closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

With the boys away on sleep over, Suanne and I took it easy for dinner. We had a very late dinner and thought that we go check out a Bubble Tea place because we had never really been to one other than Go Go Tea Cafe. Actually that Go Go Tea trip does not really count because it was over lunch time.

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We went to the Flo Tea Room located at the south end of Granville Street in Vancouver. We did not know what to expect. We were quite apprehensive that this place will be teeming with Asian youngters hanging out for the night … i.e. it would be loud and noisy.

We found it kind of odd that the Flo Tea Room is located on a row of three bubble tea houses, including a Bubble World Tea House outlet. Since this visit, we are beginning to notice that the Bubble World Tea House has lots of locations around Metro Vancouver.

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But it was not at all like what we expected. Why, it was exactly like any Chinese Cafes. Although we did not see any kids around (after all it was 9PM when we were there), there were a lot of people our age or even older. So, we’re OK.

Flo has quite a large menu for their drinks. See pix above … Suanne was perusing the drinks menu which came in in the form of a plastic folder. We were not very familiar with the drinks menu and was stumped by the range of drinks called Calpis. What is that anyway?

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I got one of their new drinks. It’s simply called Flo Flurry which is a mix of chocolate slush with grass jelly and topped with Oreo crumbs. $4.95. As I drank this I was wondering how many calories there are here. (more…)

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Estea Beverage Club on Alexandra Rd in Richmond

Updated: 22nd Dec 2014; This restaurant is closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

We found a new place for eating out last weekend which we like a lot.

We had stumbled upon Estea many months before when we were in this strip mall on Alexandra Road. We had forgotten about them until I came across them while researching for new places to go to. We had covered so much of Richmond that we are finding it harder to find new places.

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Estea is a really good find. The biggest problem with Estea is the location. Although it is located on Alexandra Rd you do not know it because it is hidden at the back of the strip mall (where Mongolie Grill is). It actually fronts Alderbridge Way but you can only access Estea from Alexandra. I thought Estea would do much better if they have a signboard that fronts the busy Alderbridge Rd.

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The dining area in Estea is cavernous and can seat up to 200 people. They have wifi here and we see young teenagers using notebooks. Coupled with the decor and the name of the place (Estea Beverage Club) tells me that this place is intended to be a place for youngsters to hangout.

We were there in the afternoon and the place had just about 10 customers in all. It does look empty but I remember when we first passed by Estea during dinner time, it was absolutely packed.

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We love the menu and the way it is laid out. I think you like that too. It is a very big colorful spread with lots of delicious looking pictures of their popular items.

Estea is a Taiwanese style restaurant. I am saying that because the menu has pictures of Taipei and the Taipei 101 Tower.

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Let’s start with the simpler dishes. Arkensen chose the Scrambled Egg with Shrimp on Top of Rice. It’s a simple dish and reminds me of “wat darn hor” which is basically the same except that it’s with rice noodle instead of steamed rice. $7.95.

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Estea’s individual dishes came with two sides — celery and daikon. We like the combination … the daikon was very soft, warm, spicy while the celery was served cold and crunchy. (more…)

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Lao Shan Dong Homemade Noodle House in Burnaby

As strange as it may seem but Lao Shan Dong is one of my fav eating spots but had never ever gotten to blogging about it. This is despite also the fact that it is located within a 3 minutes walk from my office.

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Lao Shan Dong is located at the busy intersection of Kingsway and Nelson in Burnaby. The location is less than desired, I reckon. You see, the restaurant is tucked into a recessed area of a principally an office building.

The looks of this place is just like any ordinary Taiwanese noodle house. It is small with tables all packed that makes it sometimes impossible to navigate through. But despite that Lao Shan Dong is steeped in history. Apparently this Lao Shan Dong is a branch of the legendary Taipei restaurant which dates all the way back 60 years. The original Lao Shan Dong was opened in 1949.

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I finally brought the whole family to eat here. It is a long drive from Richmond which we do not normally do anymore. OK, I work around here but driving that distance to work and driving to eat is a different thing altogether.

This restaurant is always busy but I had never had to wait for long even at the busiest of times. They turn the tables very fast. Frankly, this place seems very much like a fast food joint. People come in, order, eat and go.

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For starters, we had the House Special Cold Meat Combination. They have it in two servings … large for $8.95 and small for $6.95. We had the large one. It consists mainly of Pig Ear and Beef (?) slices. It was good except that we find the sauce a little too thick and salty. If they had diluted it a bit, it would be just perfect. (more…)

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Tri-ty Cafe in Richmond

It seems like we Richmondites living south of the City Hall are second class citizens. Until TODAY, the side streets are still a mess … it is passable but we still have our four lane street relegated to a single lane. Despite the warmer air the past two days, the hard packed snow is not really melting at all.

Anyway, we ventured out again for lunch. We wanted to go to Top Shanghai but it was absolutely packed. So, instead, we pop over the new place next door. It’s called Tri-ty Cafe … odd name but it looked good.

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Tri-ty is located on the strip mall on Akroyd and No 3 Road. It’s on the side where Safe-On-Food is. Parking was madness that day because of all the snow piles taking up a lot of the parking bays. To add to the madness, everyone is taking the advantage of the break in the weather to venture out.

You know the reason behind the Tri-ty name. Well, it is QualiTY, QuantiTY and TasTY!

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Actually, Tri-Ty is a hip place that caters mainly for the younger crowd. The decor has really clean lines but not spotlessly clean. It seems like a great place to hang out for youngsters because they pasted a cheap looking sign that says something like you gotta spend a minimum of $3 to hangout here … something like that. I thought that the sign kind of cheapens the place!

From the looks of it, this seems like a Taiwanese style restaurant.

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What I like about this place is that a lot of thought outside-the-box in placed on the little details. They even have one of those fadish electronic picture frames which flashes the delicious looking food and drinks. I think it is an awesome idea. We couldn’t help but kept on looking for what is shown next. I bet this draws a few extra orders … it is like a more modern version of “would you like fries with that?”.

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I have seen chopstick stands quite commonly but the one above beats the rest. It is both a soup spoon and a chopstick stand. Pretty neat. I wonder where I could find one of these.

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For appetizers, we ordered the Marinated Intestines because I know my boys had taken to a liking of this. The intestines were served warm which contrasted very nicely with the cold sourish pickled cabbage. It came with two types of sauces too (also one hot and one cold). We expected the texture to be chewy but instead it is soft. It is simply good. $4.50. (more…)

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Blackberry Bistro in Richmond’s London Landing

Updated: 30th Dec 2010: this restaurant is closed according to Urbanspoon.

George and Ease recently invited us for dinner. It had been a very long while since we had met up. It must have been something like over three years. We had utmost respect for them and remembered so well how they had supported us in times of need.

A few years ago Arkensen was in hospital. Suanne and I took turns to stay with him in the hospital every night. There was that one day Arkensen had a rough patch and I stayed with him right through lunch and dinner time. Just then when it was late and I don’t expect anyone anymore, George showed up despite his busy schedule. Seeing that I had no eaten yet, George went out scouring for dinner for me. I will never forget that act of selflessness from him.

Ease told us she had been reading our blog all these while. So when Ease contacted Suanne suggested we meet up for dinner, we immediately agreed. We went to this new place call the Blackberry Bistro.

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The Blackberry Bistro is described as a Pan Asian restaurant but to us it is more than that. It is located at the so called “new Shaunessy of Richmond” which I think is more aptly called London Landing. I had been through this place many times before when I was training for the Half Marathon and had always noticed the name Blackberry … this place used to be overrun with blackberries but of late a lot of the industrial buildings had been torn down to make this a new waterfront residential area.

For those who are are familiar with this southern Richmond neighborhood, I want you to know that it’s on 6011 Dyke Road. It is very near where the London Farm and the starting point of the London Landing dykes.

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We had expected a very Asian setting but were quite impressed with the setup. The restaurant had a decidedly modern setting with high ceilings which is lends to it a sense of spaciousness and grandness. This restaurant sure put in a lot of planning and thought into it.

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There is even sofa and fireplace in the eating area upstairs with plasma TV and all (and not playing HK variety shows!). We actually did not expect that there were so many customers but were quite surprised that they had a healthy mix of customers. This is perhaps the only place we had seen so far which serves decidedly authentic Asian food and had more than 50% of the customers who are white. I like that.

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The table setting was well thought out although I think they put in too much effort to making this good. Case in point … the manually wrap and bind the chopsticks and cutleries. The menu too is really cute … which for a moment I thought was a placemat!

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Their menu is very much South East Asian. We had the nice juicy Chicken satay for starters. (more…)

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Go Go Tea Cafe in Richmond

This restaurant has closed according to Urbanspoon; updated on 15th June 2010.

The four of us, we don’t normally go to Bubble Tea Houses. It is not that we don’t like Bubble Tea. As a matter of fact, our boys absolutely like it but they told us they will not be caught dead in a Bubble Tea House. I think they are associating it with places where girls hangout … LOL!

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We would not had gone in if not for the fact that we have absolutely no idea where to go. You know, it was one of those days when we needed some place to blog about but simply cannot think of one … until we drove past the Cosmos Plaza on Garden City and McKim (in Richmond that is). That is when Suanne said that Gogo Tea Cafe had at sometime ran commercials on the TV.

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It is located a floor above the street level. Almost all restaurants in Richmond simply had no views at all and is dark. Well, the view here was not that great but at least it had a lot of light here. It was still winter when we visited Gogo Tea. When spring comes round, there will be more color.

Talking about spring, I just can’t get enough of spring … it is simply the best season of the year for me. It does cheer me up with the longer days. Even driving to work is interesting observing how there are more colors every day.

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Gogo Tea is bright … with ceiling to wall windows and white furnishings. On a bright day it could be blinding. Oh yeah, it is a youngster hangout alright but there are a couple of families there too.

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Milk Teas are Gogo Tea’s specialties. Ordered as an individual items, the Milk Teas are $4 and above. However, if you order from their lunch menu, you just need to add $1 for regular milk tea and an additional 50 cents if you want pearls (or coconut jelly, pudding or grass jelly) too.

We love the milk teas. They are absolutely fabulous and I am sure you will like them too. They are uniquely served in really tall glasses. They are so tall that we can’t even drink from the straws without taking it off below the table level to reach the straws!

I had the Gogo Milk Tea which came with coffee flavoured chewy jelly and whipped cream. Suanne had the Matcha Milk Tea which was more green tea and not at all sweet. Arkensen had the Chocolate Milk Tea and Nanzaro the Mocha flavoured one.

The best among all had to be the Gogo Milk Tea … it’s rich, creamy, chewy, sweet. They have a huge milk tea selection and if you don’t know what to order, then go for the Gogo Milk Tea. You won’t be disappointed.

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For food, Arkensen ordered the Deep Fried Pork Chop on Rice which costs $7.25. (more…)

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Vogue Chinese Cuisine in Richmond

Updated: 2nd Jan 2015; This restaurant is closed.

We met up with Angie’s family for lunch on a Saturday. We actually got to know each other through chowtimes. We are still amazed even today how we had gotten to know so many people through the blog.

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We decided to go to Vogue for lunch. Vogue is a popular Taiwanese restaurant located in the Continental Mall in Richmond. That mall, located on Cambie and Sexsmith, has quite a lot of eateries.

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We were early that day. Vogue opens at 11:30AM but we were already there about 15 minutes early. They were nice and asked that we come in and allow them some time to setup. Needless to say, the place were empty at that time. By lunch time, the place were absolutely packed.

They have one of the more trendy and modern decor among Richmond restaurants. Not too fancy but really neat.

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For me, I like places where they pay attention to the details. The bowls, plates, cups and chopsticks were logo’d. This is the kind of place where you are better off ordering dishes for sharing.

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You know what I hated most eating out with people who knows I am the Ben behind chowtimes? They think I know so much about food that everyone leaves the ordering to me! Frankly, I did not really know what I was ordering and went by just the name. It turned out that all the dishes I ordered came out to be almost the same stuff. 🙂

The Ma Po Tofu above was $8.25. (more…)

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