Argo Cafe on Ontario and West 3rd Ave, Vancouver

The Argo Cafe is certainly a place I would not have found on my own. It was HM who alerted us about this hidden gem. After doing a bit of research on line, it appears that it is very well known and popular with people who works around the area.


The Argo Cafe is perhaps one of those place you will not bother check out. At a quick glance, you might not even think it is a restaurant. The painting outside is very gaudy. There is the heavy metal door and the windows are barred. If I did not know anything about this restaurant, I don’t think I would even go in for a cup of coffee.

Maybe that’s the way it should be. The Argo Cafe is already … (more…)

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Deacon’s Corner on Main and Alexander, Vancouver

Nanzaro was away at a training camp on a long weekend not too long ago. The training camp was all the way in North Vancouver. It had been a while since we had driven all that far.

35 km. Each way.

And all man, I hate driving through downtown Vancouver, along Georgia and the Lions Gate Bridge is simply exasperating. I find that the worst bridge approaches in Metro Vancouver is coming from North Van to the Lions Gate Bridge … especially when there is one lane opened. Gosh the drivers are so aggressive and many of them does not respect the alternate lane merge rules.

It is strange. Nanzaro’s training ended past 2PM and yet the camp did not provide them lunch. So he was hungry, understandably, knowing he is the kind of social person who will play and not sit down and have a proper breakfast.

I asked him what he wanted for lunch and he said burgers … gourmet burgers … and NOT fried rice. I know why he said that. You see, we also picked up his friend from the same training camp. I think he doesn’t want his friend to know he likes fried rice. LOL! Actually, Nanzaro likes burgers a lot too.


So, OK … I remembered that there is a place called the Deacon’s Corner on Main St that people were raving about and saying how cheap it is too.

It took us a few moments to spot the restaurant. From the street, you can’t really see the restaurant as there is no sign on the exterior of the building and the restaurant is recessed a bit from the edge too.

It is at the corner of Main and Alexander. The way I would describe it is that this is located right smack in between East Hastings/Main and the funky Gastown area.


Metal doors and windows with metal bars.

It is not surprising because Deacon’s corner is just about 200m away from the intersection of Main and East Hasting. That is the area that has the highest incidents of drug abuse, poverty, sex and crime … perhaps in all of Canada. There is a lot of work to be done in this area to solve these problems but this is going to take a really long time.

Are you scared going to that area? You know, generally, the people there are not violent. Some will stop you and ask you for money but if you just say no, they let you be. But Suanne is scared. Every time I drive past that area, she will lock the car door.


By the time we got to Deacon’s Corner with the traffic and all, it was already about 3PM. The restaurant was empty and we were the only customer.

We learned that they closes at 5PM everyday. They are opened early for breakfast (at 7AM) and so I guess this is more of a breakfast and lunch place.

This is very much a greasy spoon place. The decor was basic … nothing fancy. With the warm lights, I can imagine this is a nice cozy and bustling restaurant in a cold morning with a hot cup of coffee as a hand warmer … and with the smell of cooking from the kitchen. But at that time we were there, we were the only customer.

Service is friendly but really slow. It took quite a wait for the food to come. I did not check how long it was but I remember we waited quite long and saying that it should not take so long because we were the only customer there. Maybe it felt long because we were all hungry.


I remember reading reviews on the internet about how cheap their prices are. And I expected it to be so considering the location Deacon’s Corner is located.

I personally don’t find it cheap. It is not expensive but it certainly is not cheap. Their sandwiches costs up to $12 and the burgers is as high as $14. Big breakfasts are $13 and Scramble Eggs are $11.


Both Nanzaro and his friend went for the ultimate. It is called The Deacon and is $14.

It is burger with the common things such as cheese, bacon, fried onion and … (more…)

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Friendly Banners Restaurant in Broadmoor, Richmond

We don’t usually go for breakfast on the weekend, having preferred to go for dinner or lunch instead.

I guess it is because breakfasts are so unexciting to us. We can think of either dim sum or western breakfasts or HK Style Cafes … and we felt that all of them serves pretty much the same thing.

So, without any idea where to go to, we decided to let Arkensen and Nanzaro decide the place for a change. They did not care but told us that they will be OK as long as:

  • we don’t drive across any bridges
  • we don’t go to another Asian restaurant
  • we don’t go near a place where mum could do grocery shoppping

Yeah, mum would always pop into a nearby grocery store conveniently when we are out eating and make us go shopping with her. Firstly, she doesn’t decide what to buy to cook at home because all of the boys at home are fussy eaters. She is smart … I know she observes us walking along the aisle and see what catches our eyes and buys that. Secondly, she will ALWAYS buy something heavy … like a bag of rice, or a bag of flour, or drinks. She takes advantage of the timing when we are there so that we can carry the heavy stuff for her.

The boys hate that. That is because I make them carry it. I had done my fair share of carrying their stuff when they are babies and toddlers. It is pay back time … like it or not. LOL!


So, the boys said we’ll go to the strip mall near home. It is so near, they can walk home on their own the moment mum ever suggest that “we got to pick up groceries for next week”.

We had been to the Friendly Banners Restaurant before. That was many, many years ago … those were the days before chowtimes and eating out was a simple affair. It was good to go back and check out our old family favourite.


After all these years, the restaurant hasn’t changed much at all except that it does show its age. It is still the same decor like it is a family restaurant from the 80’s … faux flowers and all.

We were surprised that despite the size of the restaurant, it was absolutely packed on that Saturday morning. Most of the customers are Caucasians. I guess with so many Asian restaurants in Richmond, this is one of the few places remaining which still serves good old hearty western breakfasts.


You may click on the pictures above to show a larger version.

They are all pretty much the same with different combinations of eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, toast, hashbrowns, pancakes and cheese. So it was kind of hard to decide what combination we wanted really.


Nanzaro, my youngest boy, is in a rush to grow up. He wants to outdo his Ko-Ko (that’s how he addresses his big brother) … and that irritates the heck out of Arkensen.

Well, in a traditional Chinese family, the first born BOY (girl doesn’t count) is supposed to be the #1 son … you know, the one who gets to inherit everything the father has, that sort of things. So, it kind of rub off Arkensen that he is the #1 son and he is the privilege one. When Arkensen was much taller than Nanzaro, he gets new clothes and Nanzaro gets the hand me downs. LOL!

Now, Nanzaro is slightly taller than his Ko-Ko (his doctor officially told him so) and he is mighty pleased with it.

So at the breakfast, the waitress came and of course start off by asking us what we wanted to drink. For Suanne and I, it is coffee.

When she asked Nanzaro “what will you have, honey?”, Nanzaro turned to his mum and dad and said “Coffee … can I?”

Epic fail. While he wants to be grown up, he still thinks he need to ask permission to drink coffee. Rather embarrassed by his question, I … (more…)

Continue ReadingFriendly Banners Restaurant in Broadmoor, Richmond

Burger Burger on 6th Street, New Westminster

Updated: 2nd Nov 2014: This restaurant is closed according to

Nanzaro was happy when I told him that we are not going out for Asian food for a change and asked him what he wants to eat. The instant reply was “gourmet burger”.

He loves burgers. He used to love sushi. Twice a week he will call me at work just to ask me to bring something back for him. It used to be sushi, in particular, spicy tuna roll AND California roll. Nothing else, he doesn’t want any fancy rolls … just spicy tuna roll AND California roll. Oh … he is so fussy with his sushi. We must make sure that the wasabi and ginger does not get packed along with the sushi. He will refuse to eat the rolls if it is contaminated with “wasabi” or ginger.

And then for the last three months, he doesn’t want sushi anymore. Now he is always asking me to bring home a Big Mac … and it must be a combo. The drinks must be a medium Coke with no ice and the fries must be a large one. He is a creature of habit.

Gourmet Burger? So I brought him to a place I heard a lot of. A lot of people liked it but I did not know much else about it. For some reason, I thought Burger Burger is a “gourmet burger” restaurant just like Splitz Grill or Burger Etc.


I was rather taken aback when we arrived at Burger Burger. Suanne and I was looking at one another rather puzzled and for a split moment we were wondering if we should just go somewhere else. The place did look beat up and was not particularly tidy.

No, it wasn’t a problem with me. It is just that I went with one expectation and did not expect to find Burger Burger to be a hole-in-the-wall. For some (odd?) reason, I was thinking that this is gonna be like Burger Etc.


The inside were rather untidy. Sorry, I am just telling it as I find it. There were papers and magazines strewn on some tables. There were some left over burger baskets and drink cans uncollected. The windows were stained with finger prints and oily marks — more so because this is a burger place where people eat greasy burgers with their fingers. The plastic Coca-Cola clock on the wall was chipped. The floor is a bit sticky too.

It is truly a burger shack in every sense of the word.

The place is not really big with about 7 small tables that seat two. I like the chairs. It is so retro. I don’t think you can find these kind of chairs these days.

So much for not wanting to go to an Asian place. Apparently, Burger Burger is owned and operated by a Korean couple. They are really friendly people especially when I was so undecided on what I wanted.


Click on the image above if you find it hard to read the menu. We pretty much focused on the Burgers section and ignored the rest of the menu. It doesn’t do justice to get anything else but burger in a place called Burger Burger.

They have all sorts of burgers including Bulgogi, Teriyaki, Salmon, and BBQ Beef Bun.

Besides what is on the board above, they also have combos which included fries and a drink.


Nanzaro decided really quickly. He immediately said he wanted the Burger Special Combo A. I was curious why he chose that when I don’t think he knows what is in it. You know his answer is? He said anything with “A” is better … just like AAA beef is better. *shrug*

This is really cheap. It is only $5.69 and it included a drink and fries too. The Korean lady told me that this is their … (more…)

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Swallow Tail Secret Supper Club in Vancouver

Secret Supper Club or Underground Kitchen.

These are some of the names that describes the popular private eating places that operates behind secret addresses, often in the homes of the chef. It offers a very unique experience quite unlike in a restaurant. The whole mystery of the unknown and being in a somewhat exclusive private party appeals a lot to those foodies who had seen them all.

My first experience of dining in an underground kitchen is at “12B”. I actually dined there twice. The first was when I was invited by the local Chowhounds and then I followed up by organizing one for chowtimes’ readers. I enjoyed both experiences.


Jonathan had been very active organizing such dinners for food bloggers. He earlier did one with an underground kitchen creatively called NFA, which stands for No Fixed Address. Suanne and I couldn’t make it for that one.

When Jonathan (who writes on the blog Food and Tell) organized a subsequent one to Swallow Tail, Suanne and I signed up not wanting to miss this one.


We met on a nice afternoon. Jonathan could not have picked a better day. I could have swore he ordered the sunshine for us too.

Having only experienced 12B, I like the start here. Meeting on the deck and soaking in the sun (although it was slightly chilly that day), it was just perfect to start the evening. The deck wasn’t really big enough to fit all of us. So it was quite a squeeze.

Let me think … I think EVERYONE was armed with a camera. I certainly remember there were lots of black SLRs poking at the very sight of food. Between us, we can do that without shame. LOL! I always think it is a spectacle for those of you who had never dined with a group of food bloggers. Yeah, admittedly we are not exactly the most well behaved. However, you must understand that we are working here.

I hope I don’t forget anyone. The bloggers who attended the event are Jonathan, Victoria, Mijune, Joyce, Frank, AnitaKim, Sherman, Jenny and R.

The Swallow Tail Secret Supper Club does not seem very much of a secret club because they have a website and if you look, you can find their address.


The first course, the amuse-bouche, was served in the backyard. He he he … the cameras were already firing away even before it is set on the table.

This is a homemade pastry filled with stewed apple and topped with a tough gruyere cheese. Not much of a 1st course I would say. It was because I was hungry and wanted dearly something more substantial. 🙂


After a while we were ushered into the house and down to the cellar. The dining room was cool and dark … very much like an underground supper club in every sense of the word. I was thinking how different Swallow Tail is compared with 12B. In 12B, we could pop into Chef Tood’s kitchen and see him work. Here in Swallow Tail, we dine in the confines of a private dining setting.

The person behind Swallow Tail is known as Chef Robin. She hold such dinners about twice a week. I understand that she also conducts culinary tours.

The dinner at Swallow Tail costs $50 per person and has five courses (including the amuse-bouche above). While Chef Robin did say that the dinner stretched over 3 hours and she encourages a break in the middle, we actually ate through the courses without much of a break.


With an almost growling stomach and seeing butter on the table, I thought … OK, goodie, bread. Guess not.

Anyway, Chef Robin says that she likes to use wild, seasonal, BC, organic produce with a passion for crab and wild mushrooms.


The dinner started with soup. It is a soup with sweet pea, arugula served with homemade crouton. She also mentioned that she uses hand harvested stinging nettle which she rescued from … (more…)

Continue ReadingSwallow Tail Secret Supper Club in Vancouver

Chicago: Pizzeria Uno

After a whole day subsisting on only popcorns and iced latte, I was famished. It was time to eat. It was time to eat something that is very Chicago’ish.

So … what are the food that is very Chicago’ish? Well, Chicago is the home of:

  • Chicago Style Hot Dog
  • McDonalds
  • Deep Dish Pizza
  • Italian Beef sandwich
  • The Jibarito


I had this first official meal in Chicago all planned out. I would be going to have the Chicago-style Deep Dish Pizza. And I was not going to just any restaurant that has this. I had to go the very restaurant who claim to have invented it.

The above is Pizzeria Uno and it is located on Ohio and Wabash. It was not too far from where I got off from the River Cruise. Finding it is easy … finding any address is easy in Chicago because the streets are all laid out in perfect N-S E-W grid.


The Pizzeria Uno was not very big but it sure was popular. I had to wait almost 30 minutes for a table even though it was after 2PM by the time I got there. It seems like waiting for a table is so common that they have a waiting room.

Because pizzas takes time to prepare, they take your orders at the same time they take your name. After that it is just waiting till they call your name.


The deep dish pizza was invented while the world was waging war against one another in World War II. Since then it had grown to be a chain restaurant with over 170 restaurants all over the world.

However this original Pizzeria Uno remained true to its roots. With tiled floors and wood panel walls, it looked every bit an old time pizzeria.


There were no fancy tables or big logos emblazoned all over the place. Things do look the way it is meant to look … even the dented shakers and the rusted tray it sits on. I simply love the place.


I ordered Iced Tea which is mango flavoured. It had been a hot cloudless day. So this was just the right kind of refreshing drink I needed.


It did not take me long to decide what I wanted. I did not even bother with their fancier food.

My number one choice was the Numero Uno.


The pizza … (more…)

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ABC Country Restaurant on No 3 Road and Capstan Way, Richmond

Running out of idea for cake meet, Polly and I went to ABC Country Restaurant in Richmond. We know that diner style restaurant like Denny’s and ABC Country will have a dessert menu.


The ABC Country Restaurant in Richmond is located on No 3 Road and Capstan Way, in between Canadian Tire and Yaohan Mall. There are plenty of parking here.

ABC Country was established in 1972 in Cranbrook and now has over 30 franchises in British Columbia and Alberta.


The interior is dim, coupled with dark coloured furniture and decors. Surprisingly, they are webkinz toys distributor too. The cabinet at the far end in the above photo are filled with webkinz toys. Kids will love this place.


We had regular coffees for $2.50. The good thing eating in a diner like this is that the refill is free.


We decided to get something savory first before we indulge in dessert. We ordered the Potato Skins for $8.99.  They are served with salsa and sour cream.


The Potato Skins is stuffed with cheddar and mozarella and topped with smoked sausage and green onions. This is quite filing for both of us.


Our first dessert item is Banana Caramel Chimi which is $6.99. It is creamy cheesecake layered with chunks of  banana and butter caramel inside a flaky pastry tortilla. This is served with premium ice-cream and some hot fudge topped with crushed peanuts. We believed the tortilla is deep fried as it is quite crispy. The banana enhanced the richness of the cheese. We enjoyed this one. Our next dessert is their signature … (more…)

Continue ReadingABC Country Restaurant on No 3 Road and Capstan Way, Richmond

Chowtimes Readers Dinner at 12B Underground Kitchen

This is just a quickie post since I had already done an in-depth review of Chef Todd’s 12B Underground Kitchen in this post here.

My first visit to 12B was when I joined a group of Vancouver Chowhounds. That was back in December last year. That sitting was full and I was only able to make it after someone pulled out to make room for me. It was just me who went … and poor Suanne had to stay at home.

So, I offered to organize another one for Chowtimes readers so that Suanne could also have the chance to experience dinner at 12B. The response from chowtimes readers was overwhelming … a total of 36 people responded!

I truly had a problem on my hands!


You see, 12B had always limited the number of people on each night to twelve guests only. I had several discussions with Chef Todd over the large number of diner. At one stage we were seriously exploring the possibility to do an unprecedented mega-sized group of 18!

But one thing led to another, the group eventually whittled down to a nice size of 12. Two main factors were in play.

The available dates were limited. Chef Todd is fully booked for Friday/Saturday sittings right up till early June already. Although weekdays are available, it is very limited, So we were left with the less popular days of week. Not wanting to wait for a few months, we had to settle for a Sunday night — which proved to be unsuitable for some.

The other factor was the price … the price increase. Back in December, the “minimum donation” for 12B was $50. Mid-way through the planning, Chef Todd informed me that the “minimum donation” is not longer $50, but $65. Understandably, that did not sit down well with some people. Frankly, I was really embarrassed about it having to go back to the group about this hefty 30% increase. Needless to say I was quite unhappy to be forced to deal with this.

So, long story short … twelve of us finally ended up attending the dinner.


12B dinners are BYOB event. I am not an expert in wine and so I asked Glen at work for recommendations. I wanted something that is red and something light too since I flush up red very easily.

Glen recommended the Pinot Noir from Nk’Mip. So I went to the BC Liquor store on Cambie. Oh gosh, I had never been in that place before and was so surprised how big and fancy it is. They carry almost every kind of wine and beer you can imagine. Suanne and I felt kind of lost in there.

LOL! Suanne and I was complaining the lack of vowels in First Nations names. Nk’Mip … how do you pronounce it?

It turned out that the bottle was not opened at all. Not only because everyone brought liquor but Keev even brought four bottles.


Chef Todd told me that he checked chowtimes’ earlier review the day before and made sure that he does not serve the same thing that I had in my last visit. That was considerate of him. I did not even expect him to do that at all but he did.

Chef Todd told our group the same thing he told us in my first visit — that he tries to make different menu every night. I still find it hard to believe that anyone who have such a repertoire of dishes … but that is what he said.

Cream of asparagus soup with white wine and truffles “four ways” (truffle salt, oil, and, uh, a couple of other preparations)
Cream of asparagus soup with white wine and truffles “four ways” (truffle salt, oil, and, uh, a couple of other preparations)

Suanne and I had a great time chatting about food. The group are made up of pure foodies — he he he … not bloggers who sometimes go to restaurants just for the purpose of writing reviews on the blog. These guys and gals are all there for one thing and one thing only … the food.

Among the group was Michelle and her university professor husband. They had traveled widely around the world in search of food. Since they sat directly across from me, I spent the most time chatting with them. It is so amazing being able to talk about the well-known restaurants we had been to, particularly in Spain which was still very fresh in my memory.

Halibut seared in brown butter, served on a jardinière brunoise and quinoa, with a fennel, orange and poppyseed salad on the side
Halibut seared in brown butter, served on a jardinière brunoise and quinoa, with a fennel, orange and poppyseed salad on the side

There was also Joe and Anya. Joe is not just a foodie but his name is one that some of you will hear of more and more over time. He is beginning to start blogging together with Matt on!

So, I am going to take the short cut in this post and refer you to HIS post on this meal at 12B. His post is located on this link. Go check it out! He is going to be helping me on the next project which is the … (more…)

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X-Site Grill and Bistro on Hastings Near Intersection with Willingdon, Burnaby

It took us over a year to finally check out X-Site. We first came to be aware of X-Site when we posted our visit to the LA Grill in Richmond. Back then our readers were pointing out to us that LA Grill has the same concept with X-Site. So X-Site had been on our to-try list for a long time already but it has been so long that it dropped way down to the bottom of the priorities.

We had pretty much forgotten about X-Site until Novi left a note for us and reminded us of this place which serves $4.95 Lunch Specials.

Like Richmond’s LA Grill, X-Site is a gem of a place which everyone should take note of.


X-Site is located on Hastings in Burnaby. That is the thing — it is so far away from home otherwise we would have visited this place earlier.

Suanne and I went to X-Site for our Friday dinner date. You know, I really enjoy dinners like this to cap off the week … slow, unrushed and put work behind for the week.


Look at the interior above. You would not have guessed that they serve $5.95 Dinner Specials here. Where else could you get a $5.95 with choices like Top Sirloin Steak, Gourmet Burger, Chicken Souvlaki or Grilled Salmon? It is amazing to think how they can even make money at all.

But they had been doing this for many years already and that is why this place is so close to the hearts of many people.

The dining area is large and spacious. We expected X-Site to be very much like LA Grill but this is definitely much better and conducive for a nice dinner. The place is dim with the section at the back so dark I wonder how people are going to eat in that kind of condition.


We observed that the kitchen, bar and till was manned by Asians but all the servers are young pretty Caucasians. That stood out because it was exactly the same thing that was glaring when we were at LA Grill. No, no … it’s not a problem. It was just an observation which makes me think that beside the facade one could be very surprised who the people are behind the restaurant. Does any of our readers know if LA Grill and X-Site are run by Asians? Who are they?


Service was excellent. There is no difference from any other more expensive restaurants.

We meant to take our time for the dinner. You know, we wanted to order drinks and appy first before we decide what we want for mains and such. For a place that serves $5.95 dinners, I would somewhat understand if they want to turn the table as quickly as they can but we did not have such pressure at all.

Our waitress was perfectly fine and even asked if we wanted to just start with the drinks and appy first and decide on the rest of the meal later. We were impressed.

I ordered a 2 oz Martini called X-Site Perfect. Between Finlandia (vodkha) and Tangueray (gin), I asked for the gin. This is $5.50.

It was very strong. It was like drinking jet fuel. No, I did not like it at all.


For appetizers, we shared a plate of Garlic Prawns which is $6.95.

We were kind of dismayed with the size of the prawns but otherwise, this is great. The garlic bread is fragrant that you could smell the moment they brought it to the table. It was excellent and particularly good when we wipe that bread on the garlic butter and white wine sauce from the plate of the prawns.

Like I said, the size of the prawns was a disappointment but this was a very nice appetizer for us. Enjoyed this.


We did not get the $5.95 Dinner Specials because they are only available for Monday through Thursdays.

We decided to get a steak which costs $9.95. There were two choices: the NY Peppercorn Steak or the NY Teriyaki Steak. We thought that we try the Teriyaki Steak because Peppercorn sounded so common.

The New York Teriyaki Steak sauce is made with a blend of Japanese soya sauce, … (more…)

Continue ReadingX-Site Grill and Bistro on Hastings Near Intersection with Willingdon, Burnaby