Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Bellingham, WA

We finished our cross border shopping in the late afternoon. We were contemplating whether to go back to Richmond for dinner or have a late lunch in Bellingham.

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At the end, Nanzaro suggested to have lunch at Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Belingham.

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This location was quite busy even though it’s way past lunch hour.

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A distinctive feature of Five Guys is that it displays it’s ingredients like peanut oil and potatoes in the seating area. (more…)

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Japadog at YVR

On one of the day that we picked up Ben from the YVR airport, Nanzaro wanted to have a Japadog before we headed home.

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Japadog now has 6 locations including one  in New York according to it’s website. But from the bill board above, it looks there are 7 locations.

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There was no crazy line here like what they experienced when they first open for business in downtown Vancouver.

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Nanzaro ordered the Kurobuta teriyamo for $7.56 including tax. The hotdog was good but it is pricey. (more…)

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Nando’s Chicken on Marine Way, Burnaby

ChowtimesNoWord32x32This is a complementary meal from Nandos. We are not paid for this post.

Nando’s wrote to us out of the blue a couple of weeks ago letting us know that Rochelle Schätzl, the world’s foremost authority on Peri-Peri Chili, will be in Vancouver asking if we would be interested in meeting her.  Rochelle is an award-winning author and chef from South Africa, the home of the Peri-Peri Chili.  She had written a book about it called “Peri-Peri: The Contrasts and Contradictions of the African Bird’s Eye Chili”.

We said yes, because we knew it will be an opportunity to learn more about the Peri-Peri Chili and its exotic flavours … and boy, was that some learnings we had!  Never in my imagination could someone share non-stop about everything Peri-Peri for two straight hours.  LOL!  We had a great time and this is what we learned.

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After a few email exchanges, Mark suggested that we meet at the new Nando’s Restaurant in South Burnaby, in the new big boxes shopping mall by Marine Way.  We were greeted by Nick, the owner of this outlet, and Mark and Rochelle.  Believe it or not, Suanne and I had never been to Nando’s before because we thought that it was just a spicier version of fried chicken.

We found out how different Nando’s is from KFC and Church’s and that it is not quite the fast food the way we know it.  Well, it is like a cross between fast food and slow food is how I would describe it.  You place your orders at the fastfood style counter and given a wooden block with a number where there will bring the food to your table when it is ready.

This particular store was busy during lunchtime when we were there during a weekday.

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Nando’s originated from South Africa in 1987 and is a restaurant with a Portuguese theme.  Nando’s operates in 35 countries today with their biggest market in South African and Britain.  There were a lot of other fascinating stories about Nando’s history and beginings but am not going to bore you with those.

Anyway, this restaurant we visited carries the South African theme with African decor and artifacts.  The restaurant was pleasant, clean and tastefully designed.

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Rochelle gave a copy of her beautiful book on Peri-Peri.  It took her two years of research to write it.  It was a privilege to be given the inside scoop of this brilliant pepper and how it is impacting the global culinary landscape.  Specialty Food Magazine recently listed the Peri-Peri Chili as one of the Top 10 Flavour Trends of 2009.

From our time with her, we can clearly see that Rochelle is proud of South Africa, it’s food, people and culture.  She told us how the tiny Peri-Peri Chili represents very much a way of life of the South African adding that all restaurants in South Africa will have some form of Peri-Peri.

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Peri-Peri is the African version of the Bird’s Eye Chili.  It is very much like the South East Asian version of Chili Padi or Thai Pepper.  This chili packs a punch despite its size.  Peri-Peri is used in a dry form and not fresh.  Do you know why?

Let’s see a comparison of Scoville Scale (a measurement of hotness) of Peri-Peri Chili against other common peppers:

  • Law enforcement grade pepper spray: 5,000,000 Scoville Rating
  • Naga Jolikia (Hottest chili in the world): 1,000,000
  • Habanero: 100,000 to 300,000
  • Peri-Peri: 50,000 to 175,000
  • Thai Pepper: 50,000 to 100,000
  • Cayenne Pepper: 30,000 to 50,000
  • Tabasco Pepper: 30,000 to 50,000
  • Chipotle Pepper: 10,000 to 40,000
  • Jalapeno Pepper: 3,000 to 8,000
  • Bell Pepper: Zero!

There had been attempts to cultivate Peri-Peri Chilies outside of a small region in southern African but all attempts had failed.  Rochelle said that the Peri Peri is a chili with a bad attitude … the harsher conditions and weather, the meaner the chili gets.  There had not been much success in cultivating the Peri-Peri commercially.

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Suanne and I sampled a lot of food at Nando’s but there is one I love a lot … the Chicken Livers ($7).  Oh major yum.  I guess it is not for everyone but if can get over the texture and the thought of it, chicken liver is really delicious.

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We ignored the bread that came with the Chicken Livers.  We can’t help but notice the tempting looking Portuguese Garlic Bread ($2) … (more…)

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Burgers Etc on Hastings, Burnaby

At work, I report to someone whose base is in Atlanta. I don’t see my boss very often. Maybe once every quarter. Last month, he told me he’s coming over to Vancouver and did not state his agenda for the visit. Some of us were uneasy because I know the company had clamped down on traveling during these uncertain times. Who knows, right? For all we care, he could be here to serve Termination Notices! I mean serving of Termination Notices had to be done by the boss and in person too.

Nothing of that sort happened. LOL!

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Do you guys ever get worried about losing your job?

I used to read a lot in the papers of some company laying off 10 people here, 1200 there, and 50 in another place. They were just numbers … and it did not hit home until I began to hear about substantial layoffs in Vancouver companies … EA, McKesson, Best Buy and others. All of the sudden, I began to know names of people who had been laid off … they are no longer numbers, they are real people … and people I know. *shudder*

Enough of these depressing thoughts … back to food.

So, the thing is I brought Frank (my boss) and Stevie who are both from Atlanta out for dinner. As much as I would love to bring them to the best that Vancouver could offer in terms of ethnic food, I know the Americans would not really enjoy it. I played safe and brought them to a burger place.

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I brought them to Burgers Etc. I could have brought them to a pricier place but as you know, expenses are harder to claim these days and trying to pass a $50 per head dinner is not going to fly. But then Burgers Etc is not exactly really cheap.

Burgers Etc is well known as the “Best Burger in Metro Vancouver” by viewers of CTV News. Burgers Etc is not a big place with just about 10’ish tables or so. I guess this is a place where people come pick up a burger, eat and go. (more…)

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Splitz Grill on Main St in Vancouver

Nanzaro is like a pitbull. When they latch on to you they never let go. Nothing makes them let go of their deadly jaws.

For some unknown reason, he had been hankering Suanne and I for “gourmet” burgers … not just any burgers … but GOURMET burgers. McDonalds, Burger King and the likes will not do.

Nanzaro did some research over the net and narrowed his choices to either Splitz, Burger Etc or Moderne Burger. We settled for Splitz because the slogan on the http://splitzgrill.com website says “a true gourmet burger joint”.

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It had been quite a while since Suanne and I last had burgers. Moreover, it is good to have non-Asian food for a change.

Splitz is located on Main St at 27th in Vancouver. This place is actually a spin off from the very popular burger joint in Whistler.

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Ordering here requires you to go through the process of first placing your order at the front of the aisle. You then move on to the garnish station where you tell them the sauce and toppings you want. Most of the toppings are included in the price but some are extras, like sauteed mushrooms and bacon.

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The dining area is spacious and clean. It was not really comfortable but I do think that this is really fast food where people pop in, grab a sandwich, eat and go.

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Both Nanzaro and Arkensen ordered the Legendary Splitz Burger Combo. The combo costs $9.45 which included a small fries and small fountain drink. I am not sure why but Nanzaro ordered his pretty plain. He hates greens and so just opted for honey mustard despite me telling him he can have as many sauce or toppings he wants.

Despite the simple burger, it really looked very enticing — moist and juicy. This really shows how well they do burgers.

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Arkensen had the same as Nanzaro’s but he had the basics … ketchup, honey mustard, tomato and lettuce.

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Suanne and I shared a burger because we know it will be too much for if we ordered one for ourselves. We had the Grilled Lamb Burger (no combo) which costs $7.75. I asked for the Splitz Sauce and Medium Salsa for the sauce and everything but pickles (I don’t fancy pickles). (more…)

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Krispy Kreme in Burlington, WA

Armed with the Canadian passport, we went across the border again the following week. I don’t know about you but there is this something special about the Canadian passports and Canadian travelers. I seems to think that a lot of people in the world actually likes Canadians. We are the quiet, respectful kind of travelers and we don’t make enemies around the world! Almost …

I recall once that American travelers actually get maple leaf patches for their backpacks when they travel. This is so that people will leave them alone thinking that they are Canadians. Have you heard of that before? It was in the news about a year ago or so only.

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This time round, we tried going south via the Pacific Crossing. The radio was saying that it wait was “about 20-30 minutes”. They were just about 30-40 minutes off their estimated wait time … took us a bloody 1 whole hour to cross.

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And just my luck again for picking the wrong lane. With just a couple of cars in front of us, there was a problem. Not sure what it was but it sure took them a long time checking and cross checking the car … took them almost 15 minutes.

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I kind of like and at the same time hate the US highways. I mean, they are wide and well constructed but I sure hate to see them in Beautiful British Columbia.

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As we were in Burlington, I thought I drive past Krispy Kreme and see if they are making the donuts then. This Krispy Kreme location is where we had our first ever Krispy Kreme. Man … it was (and still is) the best donuts that I had ever tasted before.

There is only one Krispy Kreme in the Vancouver area — in the far flung city of Surrey. Before that store opened, we used to drive all the way to Burlington for Krispy Kreme. Oh yeah, I remember I once told the border guard that I am going over for Krispy Kreme and he found it funny.

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