Simpatico

Simpatico appears to have odd hours. During most times I passed by the place in the morning/noon, I see that it’s closed; thus I assumed that the restaurant only had dinner service. However, recently when I was in the area at around 12, I saw that it was open. I decided to take the opportunity and headed into the restaurant. It was quite empty inside: there were only 1-2 other tables that were occupied. In addition to a regular menu consisting of popular Greek dishes, they also have a small lunch menu. I had their Small Canneloni Genovese and Souvlaki (Chicken Thigh).

Small Canneloni Genovese ($12.50):


3.5/5
This was filled with ground veal & pork and is served with garlic toast. The pasta was well cooked and tender, and had a great amount of ground meat. There was also a very good amount of tomato sauce, which was flavourful. I also really enjoyed the layer of cheese on top and the toast, which was well buttered.

Souvlaki, Chicken Thigh ($14.50):


3.5/5
This comes with your choice of either lamb, chicken breast, chicken thighs, beef, or pork (which they were actually out of), either pita or fries, tzatziki, and Greek salad. I had the chicken thighs and pita. The chicken was, of course, tender and juicy, and had a pretty good grilled/charred flavour. Unfortunately, I did find it to be a bit underseasoned and bland. The salad was well dressed and had a good amount of cheese; however, I’m not sure if it was feta that they used for the cheese was a little bland and not salty. The pita was fluffy and chewy; I do wish that they could have served the tzatziki on the side instead of on the pita itself, however.

I’m glad to have managed to catch Simpatico while they were open. The food wasn’t fantastic but still very good, and the prices were fair. Service-wise, the food did take a little long to come out, but the server I had was quite friendly and attentive. All in all, I definitely think that this is a restaurant worth checking out.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Canneloni Genovese, Souvlaki

Simpatico Ristorante Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mercante

Ever since we started having lab meetings at noon, our PI started getting pizzas from Mercante so that the people wouldn’t have to sit through the meeting hungry. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take any photos of the pizzas in the middle of the meeting since 1) the lighting was usually terrible and 2) I didn’t want my fellow colleagues to question why I was taking photos. Thus, I decided to head over to the joint myself to write my review. The spot specializes in wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas, although they do also have some pastas and other desserts. I had their Tortellini and an Al Pesto Pizza.

Tortellini ($7.75):


3/5
This was in a cream sauce and is topped with parmesan. The pasta itself was a tad overcooked for me and didn’t appear to have much filling, and was a bit bland on its own. I did quite enjoy the sauce, which was creamy albeit a tad bit underseasoned.

Al Pesto Pizza ($12.50):


3.5/5
This was topped with pesto, prosciutto, cheese, artichokes, and tomatoes. The crust wasn’t very crispy, although it was thin and flavourful. There was a good amount of topping. The pesto was very flavourful, albeit a bit on the salty side; I really enjoyed the tomatoes, which provided a great tanginess. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a big fan of the artichokes.

Although I wasn’t the biggest fan of the pasta at Mercante, I really did enjoy their pizzas. The prices are quite reasonable. While this is not the best pizza joint that I’ve been to, but definitely a good choice if you’re on campus.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Al Pesto Pizza
Mercante Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Janice Cakeshop

I don’t go to Richmond often. I had no idea that the 430, which goes to Richmond, comes like once every 30 minutes on Sundays. I found that out during my visit to Janice’s Cakeshop. They are a small Asian/Chinese-style Bakery located in Richmond. As their name suggests, they make a large variety of cakes, as well as other baked goods. During my visit, I had several of their cakes (Green Tea Mousse, Fresh Mango, Lemon Cheesecake and Chestnut Cake), as well as a Pork Floss Sandwich, a Ham and Egg Sandwich, and a Pineapple Bun. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of the bakery, so I don’t know the exact prices for their goods, but they are fairly cheap.

dav
Fresh Mango, Green Tea Mousse, Lemon Cheesecake, Chestnut Cake

Pineapple Bun (around $1.50):


3/5
The bun was fluffy and soft. The topping was crispy and provided a nice sweetness; unfortunately, I did find the bun to be a bit too plain to enjoy on its own.

Pork Floss Sandwich (around $1.50):


3.5/5
This consisted of pork floss and cheese with a clear, slightly sweet paste on whole wheat bread. The whole wheat bread was a bit dry and grainy for me. I really enjoyed the pork floss and the paste however.

Green Tea Mousse Cake (around $4):


2/5
This consisted of layers of green tea mousse and sponge cake. The cake was fine, being light and fluffy. Unfortunately, I did not like the mousse at all, which as thick, gummy, and utterly flavourless.

Fresh Mango Cake (around $4):


3.5/5
This consisted of layers of sponge cake sandwiching mangoes and cream. The cake was light and fluffy while the mango was sweet and tangy. I found the flavours to be a bit too bland, but this is definitely a good choice for anyone who wants something lighter.

Ham and Egg Sandwich (around $1.50):


3.5/5
This consisted of white bread sandwiching slices of ham and eggs, and what appears to be mayo. The bread was much less dry compared to the whole wheat from the Pork Floss sandwich. I initially found the sandwich to be a tad bit bland, but the interior was actually flavourful, with the mayo providing some richness to go along with the bread.

Lemon Cheesecake (around $4):


4/5
The cheesecake was quite light and fluffy, and had a great fresh, lemony flavour. The crust was also crispy. This is a lighter option to a regular cheesecake.

Chestnut Cake (around $4):


4/5
This consisted of sponge cake that’s sandwiches with chestnut paste and whipped cream. The cake was light and fluffy while the chestnut paste was creamy and wildly sweet.

In spite of the long wait for the 430 to come along, I really enjoyed my trip to Janice Cakeshop. With the exception of the green tea mousse, I quite enjoyed all of their other cakes, and their sandwiches were also quite good. The prices are also very reasonable. Definitely a bakery/shop that’s worth visiting.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Lemon Cheesecake, Fresh Mango Cake, Chestnut Cake
Janice Cake Shop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Only Cafe

After my visit to Cafe Lokal for some food, I headed over to The Only Cafe, which was located just a few doors down. They are an Asian/Japanese-style cafe located in Kits, on 4th Avenue. In addition to serving up various drinks, both hot and cold, they have various sandwiches and baked goods. I had a Matcha Latte, Japanese Cheesecake, and Matcha Pound Cake.

Matcha Latte ($4.75):


4/5
The latte was actually not sweet at all, but was slightly bitter with a creamy texture. It had a pretty good matcha flavour, which was quite impressive seeing that most matcha-flavoured drinks tend to be a little weak.

Japanese Cheesecake ($4):


3/5
The cake was more light and yogurt like compared to NY cheesecake. The filling was creamy and tangy, but a bit lacking in flavour and gummy in some areas. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a big fan of the crust beneath, which was a bit grainy.

Matcha Pound Cake (around $4-5):


3.5/5
The cake was a bit hard, but still tasty and had a mildly sweet flavour. The matcha flavour was a bit weak, but that is kind of expected from most matcha-flavoured desserts.

While I wasn’t a huge fan of their cheesecake from The Only Cafe, I enjoyed the pound cake and was impressed by their latte. The staff was friendly and the prices were fair. This is definitely worth checking out.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Matcha Latte, Matcha Pound Cake
The Only Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cafe Lokal

During my recent visit to The Only Cafe (review on that coming up) I decided to stop by Cafe Lokal first for a quick bite. The latter appears to be quite a popular local (no pun intended) hangout. The tables are often all occupied with people reading books or doing work on their laptops while drinking coffee/lattes. In addition to a drink menu, they also make various fresh-baked goods and sandwiches/salads for lunch. I had a Spicy Salami Panini and a London Fog.

Spicy Salami Panini ($9.50):


3/5
This was served with a small side of greens dressed in oil and vinegar. The bread was quite nicely toasted, and was crispy on the outside while being soft and chewy on the interior. The filling did have a nice bit of heat. Unfortunately, I found the flavour to be completely dominated by pickled artichokes, which I just did not care for.

London Fog ($4.50):


4/5
The drink came with a thick layer of foam. It was not overly sweet and had a really nice flavour of Earl Grey.

I wasn’t particularly fond of the sandwich at Cafe Lokal, but the London Fog was pretty good. While I’m not really into cafe culture and will not likely return, the place does seem a nice local hangout for those who do like cafes (if you’re fortunate enough to find a seat that is).

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 3.5/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: London Fog
Cafe Lokal Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thai Son – Victoria Dr.

I’ve been pretty much snowed in for the past couple of days. Not wanting to go out far from my house, I decided to check out Thai Son for lunch recently. They are a cash-only Vietnamese restaurant with several locations in Vancouver. The one that I went to was on Victoria Drive, which was built in the location where a Church’s Chicken used to be. They have quite a large menu of various noodle soups, as well as rice and vermicelli dishes. I had a small Vietnamese Beef Brisket Stew with Egg Noodles and Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chops on Steamed Broken Rice. Unfortunately, I forgot the exact prices of the dishes; all I remember was that they were both under $10.

Vietnamese Beef Brisket Stew with Egg Noodles, Small (around $9.50):


4/5
This contained beef brisket, egg noodles, and carrots. The noodles had a really nice bouncy texture. There was a pretty good amount of meat present, which while a bit on the chewy side, was still tasty. I particularly enjoyed the broth though, which was rich and quite flavourful, with just a slight bit of heat.

Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chops on Steamed Broken Rice (around $9.50):


4/5
This came with a small side of soup, which was just broth. The pork chops themselves were quite tender and juicy, and did have a grilled flavourful and fragrance. The rice was also well-cooked, with a nice bouncy texture.

I quite enjoyed my visit to Thai Son: the food was quite tasty and the prices were quite inexpensive (they also have an additional 10% off during Tuesdays). The only negative is that the service wasn’t particularly friendly/helpful, but that is to be expected i most types of joints like these. I think it’s definitely worth checking out.

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 4/5
Service: 2.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Beef Brisket Stew, Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chops
Thai Son Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Paris Bakery

When I hear a place named “Paris Bakery” I’d assume a fancy French patisserie. Not so for the shop of that name that’s located on The Drive. No, they are actually a Vietnamese Banh Mi joint in the same vein as Banh Mi Saigon, which I visited about a month ago. In addition to various Banh Mi sandwiches, they also have appetizers and drinks. Everything appears to be made on order, and I do think that they make their own baguette. I had their Salad Rolls, Lemongrass Chicken Banh Mi, and Paris Special Banh Mi.

Salad Rolls ($6):


3.5/5
These are stuffed with vermicelli, veggies, shrimp and pork and comes with dipping sauce. The rolls have a nice texture, with the noodles being chewy and bouncy and the veggies providing crunch. They are bland on their own, but tasty when dipped into the sauce, which was slightly tangy and had a slight peanut flavour. They also appear to wrap the rolls on order, which is impressive.

Lemongrass Chicken Banh Mi ($4.75):


4/5
This banh mi was filled with pickled veggies, lemongrass chicken, and condiments like butter and mayo. The bread was crusty on the outside and chewy on the interior. There was a pretty decent amount of chicken, which was tender and juicy, and had a wonderful fragrance of lemongrass.

Paris Special Banh Mi ($4.75):


4/5
This was similar to the lemongrass chicken, but with various cold cuts instead of the lemongrass chicken. I personally didn’t find the meat here to be as flavourful as the chicken was, but it was still quite a tasty sandwich.

Even though I’m a bit disappointed that Paris Bakery’s not a patisserie, I still enjoyed my visit. Their banh mis, while not as large as the ones from Bah Mi Saigon, are just as tasty in my opinion, and the prices are very cheap. This is definitely worth checking out.

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 4.5/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 4/5
Recommendations: Banh Mi
Paris Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

La Gateau Bakeshop

I know that I shouldn’t complain snow (it’s Vancouver, and compared to most other cities both in Canada and the US we’ve been having it pretty good), but I just want winter to end already. Just when I thought that we were going to get out of this winter unscathed we get a cold spell…and with it snow…and probably even more snow for the next 2 weeks. Ugh.

Fortunately, I was able to make a trip to La Gateau Bakeshop before the first snowfall and all the buses breaking down and getting stuck half way up a hill. The latter is a small bakery located on East Hastings, not far from PNE and Playland. They seemingly special in custom cakes, but also offer cupcakes, mini cakes and other treats. I had their Red Velvet Cupcake, Salted Caramel Chocolate and Almond Cream Fruit Tarts, and Earl Grey Mini Cake.

Red Velvet Cupcake ($3.25):


3/5
The cake itself was pretty tender and moist. There was a good layer of cream cheese frosting. Unfortunately, I found it to be a bit too thick and lacking in flavour. I also felt that it had a slightly unpleasant aftertaste.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart ($4.75):


3.5/5
The crust was a bit blond, but quite tender; however, I did find it to have a slightly odd freezer-burned taste. I really enjoyed the chocolate and caramel ganache, which melted in my mouth and had a fantastic caramel flavour and sweetness.

Almond Cream Fruit Tart ($6.50):


3/5
This was filled with almond paste and cream, and was topped with fruit and a macaron. The macaron was quite airy and crispy, although quite sweet. I quite enjoyed the almond paste, which had a nice fragrance and was lightly sweet. Unfortunately, I found the shell to be a little too thick, although it was more well baked compared to the salted caramel tart. Again I did find thereto be an unpleasant freezer-burned flavour.

Earl Grey Mini Cake ($6):


3/5
The layers of cakes were quite tender and had a fluffy texture. I really enjoyed the layers of chocolate and the earl grey flavour. Unfortunately, I found the top layer of icing to be just terrible: it was thick, waxy and flavourless. I just ended up scraping it off and eating the rest of the cake underneath.

I had high hopes for La Gateau, and I have to admit, I do feel pretty let down by my visit. The treats, while not terrible, did leave much to be desired. The prices were also on the higher side, and in my opinion, not worth it for the quality. Not a place that I’d recommend.

Summary:
Food: 3/5
Price: 3/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3/5
Recommendations: N/A

Forty Ninth Parallel Cafe & Lucky’s Doughnuts (Kits)

Mmm…Donuts *drools*

dav

49th Parallel Cafe & Lucky’s Donughnuts is a popular shop with several locations in Vancouver. I’ve visited their Main St. location previously and have found their donuts fairly good (certainly better than Cartems imo). They’ve got another location in Kits that I’ve recently decided to visit. They had about a dozen varieties available when I arrived (I didn’t realise this but they had more in the back); I ended up getting a Maple Pecan Bismark and Salted Caramel Old Fashioned. Sadly, the donuts were put into paper bags, and the icing on the bismark got smooshed along the way home. Oh well.

Maple Pecan Bismark ($3.50):


4/5
Unfortunately, the icing on the donut got a little smooshed during the trip back home (paper bag not the best medium for carrying glazed donuts). The yeast donut was filled with maple cream and glazed with maple. I really liked the dough of the donut, which had a great fluffy and chewy texture. The icing had a great fragrance of maple; the filling wasn’t overly sweet. I didn’t get that much pecan flavour, however. The small pearls on top provided a really nice crispy texture.

Salted Caramel Old Fashioned ($3.25):


3/5
This was a sour cream old fashioned donut that’s glazed in salted caramel. The donut had a tender, moist texture, and a slightly tangy taste. Unfortunately, even though I could definitely see and smell the caramel, I really couldn’t taste it at all.

I quite enjoyed the yeast donuts at Lucky’s, although I was a bit disappointed in their old fashioned. The prices are on the high side at over $3, which is roughly twice the price of a spot like Duffin’s (whose donuts are equally as good imo). All in all, while I did enjoy my recent visit, I do personally find Lucky’s to be a bit overrated.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 3/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Maple Pecan Bismark
Forty Ninth Parallel Cafe & Lucky's Doughnuts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Jiu Jiang Japanese Restaurant

Sushi is just one of the things that everyone loves that I just can’t stand. I don’t like the taste of raw fish at all, and while I do enjoy California rolls, unfortunately I have discovered that I’m allergic to avocadoes (and avocado rolls without avocado isn’t really worth it imho). Fortunately, there’s still a good menu of other food at Japanese restaurants that I do like and can still enjoy: teriyaki, karaage, takoyaki, ramen, etc. Lately, I’ve been craving for some fried Japanese fare, and decided to check out Jiu Jiang. They are a small but tidy Japanese (although the name is Chinese, and at least a few of the staff speak Mandarin) shop located in Kerrisdale, near 41st Avenue. They have a pretty good menu consisting of popular Japanese dishes, both cooked and sushi/sashimi. I had their Takoyaki, Chicken Karaage, and Chicken Teriyaki & Egg Fried Rice.

Takoyaki ($5.25):

dav
Close up of Takoyaki

3.5/5
The takoyaki had a crispy exterior and was soft and creamy on the inside. I didn’t really get that much ocotopus inside, but that was fine since I don’t really care that much for octopus.

Chicken Karaage ($7.25):

dav
Close up of Chicken Karaage

4/5
This was actually more similar to the Taiwanese-style chicken vs. the Japanese style. I was quite impressed by the chicken: the pieces were large, tender and juicy. It was well-seasoned and flavourful, and had a great crispy exterior.

Chicken Teriyaki & Egg Fried Rice ($10.95):


3.5/5
This consisted of fried rice that’s topped with chicken teriyaki. I was a bit disappointed by the chicken to be honest: I found it to be a little anemic and lacking in grilled flavour, and also lacking in teriyaki sauce, although the meat was still seasoned. I really enjoyed their fried rice however, which was very well cooked and well-seasoned/flavourful. It came with a bowl of miso soup, which was just standard.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Jiu Jiang. Their food was tasty and very reasonably priced. The service, while not the most personable, was quite attentive and polite. I’d definitely recommend checking this spot out, even if you’re a weirdo like me that doesn’t like sushi.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Chicken Karaage, Egg Fried Rice
Jiu Jiang Japanese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato