Phnom Penh in Vancouver Chinatown

Suanne and I met up with Ed and Christina of Doesn’t Tazte Like Chicken for a weekend dinner. This time it was them who chose the location. We enjoy having going out with them because they are as real a foodie as it comes. We learn a lot from them and most of all we enjoyed their stories … like $200 sashimi and having Kobe Beef in Japan.

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We went to Phnom Penh located in Chinatown. Although we had heard so much of the place we had never been there before. I was kind of surprised to find that it’s located in such a quiet street. In the evening when we were there, Phnom Penh was about the only shop opened on the whole street.

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I was taken aback how popular this restaurant is. It was utterly packed. Ed made reservation prior to coming but it was quite useless because even with reservation, we had to wait quite a bit past the time.

I can imagine how popular this place is judging by the many awards and newspaper clippings they had accumulated throughout the years. I even see that one award was dated back 12 years (1992!) … so they must have been around for ages.

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Even Anthony Bourdain ate here before and signed a copy of their takeout menu. Gosh … if I were them I would frame it up instead of leaving it pinned on the board. That signed menu is a huge bragging right if you ask me.

I actually had half a mind of doing one for them too … you know, “Fantastic Meal, Many Thanks … Chowtimes, Ben and Suanne” LOL!

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Suanne and I shared a drink called Soda Egg. I am not exactly sure what this is but does remind me of the Egg Cream (which has neither egg nor cream) I had in New York. (more…)

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Prima Taste in Vancouver Downtown

Updated: 6th Jan 2011: This restaurant had closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

We met up with Angie and her kids for lunch over a weekend … oh … more than a month ago. You can see how behind I am in my dining out blog posts.

Angie is to us a really good cook. You should check out her food blog which mainly focuses on recipes with a bit of dining outs. Her site is called Sea Salt With Food.

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We decided to meet in a Malaysian restaurant. We hem’d and haw’d between Chili Padi and Prima Taste and finally forced to decide on Prima Taste because Chili Padi was closed for the Muslim holiday. Prima Taste is located in downtown Vancouver (specifically 570 Robson Street). Locating this place is easy but, whew, parking is expensive in downtown isn’t it? We managed to get a spot on the street parking which is much cheaper.

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Prima Taste is very much more a Singaporean restaurant than a Malaysian one. For all intents and purposes, Singaporean and Malaysian cuisines are not only similar, they are one and the same. Did you know that Singapore was a state in Malaysia in the 1960’s? Anyway, Prima Taste refects every bit of Singapore … from huge posters of the Singapore city to the modern and clean decor and lines. It is definitely a very comfortable restaurant for sure and certainly one of the best looking Malaysian/Singaporean restaurant in Metro Vancouver by far.

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Prima Taste’s origin started off as manufacturer of Ready-to-cook mixes and is based in Singapore. The Prima Taste brand is popular around the world when it comes to these mixes. Suanne tried using their Singapore Chilli Crab mixes before and had blogged about it here. We like Prima Taste’s mixes.

But before I continue, can I ask permission from you readers that I be honest here? I get lambasted sometimes for expressing my personal opinions especially in areas which is deemed as negative. It is just my opinion and yours may differ … and I accept that. So here goes …

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We ordered mainly from their single servings section of the menu — you know, noodles and rice dishes. All their dishes looked OK to good. On the taste department, I know I am measuring this to authentic Malaysian and Singapore food, I am sorry to say that they are pretty bland to just OK.

I think they might have tried too hard to tone down the flavor to cater for the downtown crowd. If so, I understand why.

The Laksa Fried Rice above looked yummy.

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The Char Koay Teow is simply too wet. It was so wet that it was almost like a KL Hokkien Mee already. Maybe Singaporeans makes Char Koay Teow like this but Malaysian ones are certainly not like this. What is really missing is the fried pork lard bits and cockles … LOL! (more…)

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Tenhachi Japanese Restaurant in Shaugnessy Village

Updated: 25th Dec 2014; This restaurant is closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

We met up with Kim Ho for dinner last month. Kim Ho had been a prolific commenter on chowtimes and he also had a blog which he calls it Words of Wind. He recommended a Japanese restaurant Tenhachi which apparently is one of those places that had been blogged about many times by local Vancouver food bloggers.

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Tenhachi is located in the ground floor of a bed-and-breakfast place unlike the B&B that most people are accustomed to. Firstly, despite the name Shaugnessy Village it is not anywhere like the tony Shaugnessy neighborhood. Shaugnessy Village is more like a cheap hotel more than it is a B&B.

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Tenhachi comes across to us as a pure Japanese restaurant. Decor-wise, there is no hint of this being a Japanese restaurant but we were greeted in Japanese. We tried to tell them we don’t understand Japanese (in English of course) but they kept on talking to us in Japanese. Hmmm … if anything, Suanne and I do not look like a Japanese at all. But service was great and have all the hallmark of Japanese politeness.

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I had absolutely no idea what I was ordering. So I ended up ordering something that sounded good. The above is Beef with Ponzu Sauce which costs $14.

I did not know what Ponzu Sauce (it’s soya sauce with lemon) was but now I know. That is because Kim Ho is like a walking encyclopedia! Ask him any obscure question, he is able answer!

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The beef was thinly sliced and served cold … just like a beef salad of sort. (more…)

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Chicco on Robson Street

Polly and I managed to get together once after the school reopened. Polly had to go to downtown Vancouver to run some errands. We took the opportunity to go for our cake meet in downtown Vancouver.

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Polly suggested to try this place called Chicco at 1504 Robson St. She got a flyer from her previous visit to downtown and Chicco was on the flyer with a tagline which captured her attention. The tagline is “The one and only Japanese Dessert Cafe”.

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We were rather surprised by this small cafe which has tables and chairs which looked so old fashion and worn out. Perhaps, the owner of this place likes antique. (more…)

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Rose Garden Seafood Restaurant on Kingsway, Vancouver

Even though we live in Richmond for many years our weekends revolves around the Metrotown area. We used to attend the church near Metrotown. Also, we forced our boys to attend Chinese language classes during Saturdays. So, for the longest time, we had our weekend lunch outings near the area. Those were the days before chowtimes.

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One of the places we frequented was the Rose Garden. We absolutely loved their delicious comfort food, huge servings and especially their low prices. Our boys were very young that we just ordered two dishes for less than $15 and that was enough to feed the whole family. Those were the days.

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It must have been 4-5 years since we last stepped into this place. It looked every bit the same — even the waitress was still the same but a bit more plum. They used to know us quite well because we almost always ordered the same stuff. But this time, we were like strangers to them. The place still looked the same.

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This time we noticed that the plates and cups were quite faded. It shows their age. I am not sure how long they had been in business but I guess they had been quite a fixture on this part of Kingsway.

I guess many of you know that restaurants come and go. There is a saying that of all newly opened restaurants, 80% of them will close within a year. And within the second year, another 80% of those who survived the first year will fold. It is those that manage to survive the second year who will thrive for one reason or another. The Rose Garden is one of those who I know will thrive.

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They have a varied menu. If you want westernised food like chow mein, they have it. If you want something more authentic Chinese, they have it too.

We choose from their Family Combo. Their “3-item” option costs $36 which includes soup, steamed rice and dessert. If you more people, they provide free dishes too. We wanted so much to order the 4 items but with the additional 1 free dish, it would have been way too much for the four of us. Someday, I’ll round up a few foodies and tackle their 8 items.

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The free soup was respectable — (more…)

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Seri Malaysia on East Hastings, Vancouver

Updated: 4th March 2012; This restaurant had closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

Ease, who recommended The Blackberry Bistro to us earlier, told us of another Malaysian restaurant that we should try out. The problem for us is that it is located in the far north eastern side of Vancouver while we live in the south side of Richmond. In short, it meant that it is a long 22 km drive to this restaurant. But we did take that long drive.

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Seri Malaysia is a Malay owned restaurant which is a rarity in Vancouver. As far as we know, this is the only other Malay owned Malaysian restaurant other than The Kedah House. Most other Malaysian restaurants we know are operated by Chinese cooks.

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The place is very typical Malay … very laid back. They are so laid back that even though we were the only customers in the restaurant and that there were two dirty tables with plates left uncollected, they remained left uncollected for the duration of our meal there.

Don’t expect too much from the decor … forget about having any ambiance at all. This is a plain practical place better known for the food, and only the food. The table is covered in clear plastic sheet over plastic lace coverings. Their menu was simple but have enough to satisfy any cravings you may have.

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Oh, one thing I had always wanted to discuss with you all and that is the cutleries used in a Malaysian dining table. For Malaysian (and I believe it goes too for all of South East Asia and even East Asia), the main cutleries used is a fork and spoon. Western tables have fork and knife. I believe the basic difference is that Asian meals involve food that is cut into bite sizes while western meals leaves big pieces of meat and such on the plate (i.e. steak, chicken breasts, etc). Also, Asian meals always have rice and it’s easier to pick up rice with a spoon than a fork.

I don’t know the details, but I recall there was an incident a few years ago in Toronto (?) where a Filipino kid was chastised by her teacher for using fork and spoon. That became a huge issue among the Filipino community. Any of you remember that?

Given a choice and if I am not eating stuff like steak, I prefer the fork and spoon. He he he … old habit die hard!

One more thing … they serve lots of cold water. You will need that because Malay food is very spicy.

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Let’s get back to food. We ordered the Roti Canai … (more…)

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Two Brothers Chinese Restaurant and Cafe on Granville, Vancouver

We were actually trying to go to the The Place Restaurant for dinner the other day but found that they were closed. Since we were quite hungry and did not want to go drive to another place, we decided to just walk along Granville St in the south side of Vancouver to look for another place to eat.

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We found a place called Two Brothers which was kind of interesting for a name. From their logo I would guess that it’s operated by two brothers … one who is suave to work in the dining room and another who is a master of the wok. If you ask me, I would prefer to be the suave one — there is no glamour in being a Chinese chef.

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This is a no frills place. The furniture are tacky and the color coordinating atrocious. Moreover, they uses the very practical plastic table cloth but I thought the choice of the patterns terrible. The picture above does not look too bad does it not? Somehow, the picture turn out OK but really if you are there, it does not look as good. We also had a couple of bowl that were slightly chipped and dated which to many people is a no-no.

But looks alone could be deceiving as we later found out.

They have quite an extensive menu but they also have what they call the “Special Family Dinner”. We ordered the Special Dinner for Three which for $35.95, we get to choose any three items from 65 dishes. For that price, we also get free house soup, jelly fish, steamed rice and dessert. Sounds like a good deal right? It sure was.

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The Jelly Fish was good as an appetizer. It’s cold, spicy and had a certain crunch to it. I like this and was wondering if one could normally make this at home. Looks simple right? Must have just been shredding the jelly fish and then marinating it in some sort of a dressing.

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Next came the free house soup which is also pretty good. I am not sure what you would call this but basically it has pork as the base flavour. (more…)

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The Boss Bakery and Restaurant in Vancouver’s Chinatown

Vancouver’s Chinatown is known as the second largest Chinatowns in North America. Only the one in San Francisco is larger than Vancouver’s. Frankly, it had been on a decline for many years now. We used to go to Chinatown often for food and groceries but no longer. We could get what we wanted and more just about anywhere in Metro Vancouver these days.

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Suanne and I decided to take a drive to Chinatown a weekend a few weeks ago. The boys were off doing their air cadet stuff and we had time for our own. We checked out a few places but many of the restaurants really looked very dirty. The one that seems the cleanest is The Boss.

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The Boss Bakery and Restaurant is located at the 500 block of Main St. I believe they are the same restaurant as The Boss in Metrotown which I used to blog here. (BTW, the one in Metrotown was closed the last time I pass by a couple of weeks ago … am not sure if they are undergoing renovation).

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Don’t be deceived by the picture I took above. It’s just that the angle shows a quite classy restaurant. It is not! It is by no means dirty but rather quite clean for a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown.

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They gave a huge menu which they place under a glass top — just like they do in the Metrotown restaurant. I know it’s kind of corny but it’s practical if you ask me. I get seated and there is the menu right in front of me … no need to wait for the server to bring along one.

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However, they have a very limited menu for breakfast and I mean very limited. They only have the breakfast menu you see above and congee.

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I had the congee which was quite good and has in it three types of meatballs, fish, shrimp and beef. (more…)

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The Place on Granville, Vancouver South

Update 07-Apr-2011: Please note that this review is from Jul-2008. We have a newer review of this same restaurant in Apr-2011. Here is the link to the newer blog post: http://chowtimes.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/the-place-on-granville-vancouver/

The other day, a foodie friend commented about this place called “The Place” where he claims that they have the best spicy beef noodle soup, we simply had to check it out for ourselves.

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The Place is located at about 63rd on Granville in the southern part of Vancouver. It is such a nondescript place that most people would not have noticed it let alone giving it a second glance. But I tell you … it’s a gem of a place.

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The Place is a no-frill smallish Chinese restaurant. I don’t know how to categorize it … maybe the best way to describe it is it’s Mainland Chinese restaurant. They serve both Shanghai and Sichuan dishes.

Service is excellent and I like the sweet and polite server which sometimes I find so wanting in many such restaurants. She was so helpful in helping us choose the dishes as we could not read Chinese. Although there were English translations on the menu, it does not do justice to the type of dishes they have.

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The Place have very unique dishes and does seem very authentic. The server recommended the Family Hot Pot (Chien Gar Fook in Cantonese). It was great. (more…)

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