Half Baked Cookie – Keep the squat cobblers away from this place!

I love Breaking Bad. It’s easily in my top 3 favourite TV shows, if not number 1. Oddly enough, I didn’t start watching their prequel/spinoff, Better Call Saul for the longest time. Even though I loved Saul Goodman/Jimmy McGill’s character, I wasn’t sure how a show just dedicated to him would work, and I felt that it was kind of gimmicky. Well, I started watching the show last week and I must say, I’m now hooked. While I’m not sure yet of how the series overall stacks up against Breaking Bad, it’s (as of early season 2, where I’m at right now) freaking fantastic.

So what does Better Call Saul have to do with a bakery called Half Baked Cookie? Well, let’s just say that something happened in episode 2 of season 2 that left me – in addition to a cramp in my abdomen from laughing – both a craving and an aversion to pie. And after doing a quick search on the internet for places offering “full moon pies” or “boston cream splats” (and no, I didn’t actually Google these terms), I found Half Baked Cookie, a small bakery located on Nanaimo St, several blocks away from The Drive. The bakery offers a rotating variety of different pies, as well as various cookies and biscuits. For my visit, I was able to get a slice each of their Chocolate Haupia and Banoffee Cream.

Banoffee Cream Pie ($5):

5/5

The description on their website pretty much says it all: “vanilla bean pastry cream, dulce de leche caramel, fresh bananas, espresso whipped cream and candied pecans“. Seriously, how can this NOT be good? Each and every flavour was present and worked together in perfect harmony. The crust was perfectly cooked, being rich and flaky without any burnt bits. I actually prefer it over the crust from the Pie Shoppe.

Chocolate Haupia Pie ($5):

5/5

Again, the description (“velvety layers of dark and milk chocolate coconut pudding and coconut pudding, topped with real whip, coconut flakes and milk chocolate”) says it all. I will just add that the crust for this pie tasted even better than the Banoffee Cream. The only small negative that I have was that I found the coconut pudding to be a tad heavy on the gelatin, but seriously, this pie is fantastic.

Half Baked Cookie is easily my current favourite place for pies. I cannot wait to return to get some of their other varieties. Seriously, if you like pies (and who doesn’t?) please do yourself a favour and head down there. Just don’t be a squat cobbler; there’s a special place in hell for people who’s waste these delicious masterpieces for non-eating purposes.

Half Baked Cookie Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cadeaux Bakery – Aka my 2nd favourite bakery in Vancouver

I love cake. I think that it’s probably my favourite food in the world. Any place that offers a good slice of cake will automatically find a place in my sugar-loving heart. Enter Cadeaux Bakery, a cute little spot near Chinatown that offers, in addition to a nice assortment of cookies, tarts, croissants and other treats, slices of five-layered cakes. They apparently always have three varieties available: their most well-known London Fog Cake, a Carrot Cake, and a variation of a Chocolate Cake. I’ve visited them twice now. On my most recent visit, I had their Ham & Cheddar Croissant and Raspberry Latte Cake slice.

Ham & Cheddar Croissant ($3.75):

dav
4.5/5
Not much to say other than that it was flaky and buttery with a delicious savoury filling. I polished it off in no time.

Raspberry Latte Cake Slice ($6.25):


5/5
This is a real masterpiece. The cake itself was nice and moist. Because I got an end piece, I had considerably more frosting, which I was actually happy about because it was absolutely delicious: rich and chocolaty without being too sweet. Being five layers, the cake had two layers of aromatic mocha frosting and two layers of tangy raspberry frosting in between, both of which were luscious with bold assertive flavours that paired perfectly together. Although Trafiq’s Tiramisu still wears the crown for my favourite cake in Vancouver, I can confidently say that this cake wins the silver medal.

On a previous visit I had their Farmer’s Market Quiche and their popular London Fog Cake slice.

Farmer’s Market Quiche ($5ish):

dav
3/5
The crust was pretty good, being nice and flaky. I didn’t really like the actual filling though as it was a bit dry and bland. Furthemore, the slice was quite small, and I don’t think it was worth the ~$5.

London Fog Cake Slice ($6.25):

dav
5/5
The cake lives up to its reputation. It was really moist and delicious, with a perfect level of sweetness. I especially loved the layers of milk chocolate ganache. The one complaint I have is that I didn’t really get much of the earl grey tea flavour, so it tasted more like a plain vanilla cake with chocolate in between. Nevertheless, it was fantastic.

Based off of my two visits, I can say that Cadeaux Bakery sure knows how to make great cakes and is currently my 2nd favourite spot for cakes in Vancouver. Although they do also have a variety of other tasty-looking treats (salted caramel brownie, anyone?), I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get to them because I cannot resist their cakes.

Cadeaux Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lucky’s Doughnuts – Overrated, but still good

Lucky’s Doughnuts is a popular doughnut shop with (now 3?) locations in Vancouver. They offer a good variety of unique flavours, and appear to have been much praise on social media. Of course, I had to check them out, so I headed over to their closest location, which again is on Main Street (why do they get all the good bakeries?). For my visit, I got their Apple Bacon Fritter, which was just calling my name, and their¬†Creme Brulee.

Mmm doughnuts…*drool*

Apple Bacon Fritter ($3.5):

3/5
The first thing that jumped out at me as I bit into the doughnut was how great the dough was. It was soft and fluffy with a slighty chewy texture. The doughnut was actually more savoury than sweet with the dough having a slightly salty taste that’s further fortified by the bits of bacon inside and on top. I was a bit disappointed by the lack of flavour: apart from the glaze on top there wasn’t really much going on inside the doughnut other than a few smal bits of bacon. Furthermore, although it’s supposed to be an “apple bacon” doughnut, and I could not detect any apple flavour at all.

Creme Brulee ($3.25):


4/5
Again, the dough was fantastic. The doughnut was sweeter than the fritter, and was topped by a really nice, crisp glaze perfectly representative of the dessert it’s modelled after. It also had a good amount of mildly-sweet caramel pudding. While the flavour of this doughnut is definitely an improvement over the fritter, I still found it to be a bit too demure.

Based off of my sampling, I do feel that the doughnuts are a bit overrated. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy their offerings overall and I will certainly be back in the future to try some of the other flavours. As much as I loved their dough however, I do wish that they could have been a bit bolder with their flavours. Those who like less sweet desserts will certainly appreciate these doughnuts more.

Forty Ninth Parallel Cafe & Lucky's Doughnuts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sushi S Japanse Restaurant – Post-comp exam celebrations

One more time
We’re gonna celebrate
Oh yeah, all right
One more time…

So I finally did my comprehensive exam (which I’ve been dreading for literally MONTHS), and miraculously, in spite of a number of stumbles and embarassing moments that I’m actively trying to suppress in my memory, I actually passed. I’m now a PhD candidate. Woohoo!

While Daft Punk advoates celebrating by dancing and partying, I prefer to celebrate by eating. After scrolling through the list of places on Skipthedishes again, I decided on Sushi S Japanse Restaurant since it appears to be quite favourably reviewed and (being a Japanese restaurant) it had some options that my dad (who is easily the pickiest eater I know) might actually eat.

Rainbow Special Maki Roll ($11)
Tarantula Special Maki Roll ($11)
Aburi Salmon Oshi ($13)


I didn’t try any of the rolls, since 1) I actually do not like sashimi. I know this is unpopular (asides from Mr. Picky, aka my dad, I’m literally the only person I know who doesn’t like sushi). I just cannot understand why raw fish (or meat) tastes good. I just find it bland and slimy, and not at all enjoyable and 2) I’m allergic to avocadoes, which is present in all of the rolls. My mom, who likes sushi and who’s not allergic to avocado ate the sushi. From the feedback that I got from her, it was generally quite good, although she did find the rice to be a bit undercooked. Her favourite was the Rainbow Roll, followed by the Tarantual Roll. She didn’t like the Aburi Salmon as much as she felt there was too much rice and not enough fish.

Chicken Teriyaki ($9.3):

dav
1.5/5
I’m so disappointed. I love chicken teriyaki. Being a non-sushi eater, this has always been my go-to dish to order at Japanese restaurants. I don’t care if it’s pedestrian or inauthentic, I absolutely love it and any decent version is an automatic 4/5 for me. This is one of the worst versions that I’ve had. The pieces of chicken were small and thin, and many of them consisted of mostly skin with barely any meat in between. Moreover, the skin was soggy and lacked any crispiness at all. I don’t know how they could have screwed this dish up, especially considering that most of their other food was decent. Seriously, I’ve had much better AYCE chicken teriyaki.

BBQ Beef Rib ($14.8):

dav
4/5
The beef was flavourful and coated in a sweet sauce that I actually quite liked. It was a bit chewy and grisly in some parts, but was definitely superior to the beef from the yakiudon. This is easily my favourite dish of the night.

Beef Yakiudon ($12.1):

dav
3.5/5
The yakiudon was topped with a good amount of grilled beef. The beef as on the tough/stringy side, which was what I expected (I don’t think that I’ve ever had good teriyaki beef; is it something to do with the cut that they use?). Fortunately, the noodles were enjoyable, having a good amount of flavour and a nice,still slightly chewy texture. Overall, one of the better stir-fried noodle dishes that I’ve had.

Unagi Don ($14.3):

dav
3/5
The flavour was pretty good. Unfortunately, as it often happens, the eel did have a “fishy” flavour. It wasn’t too strong though, and I did still enjoy it.

Salmon Kama ($4.4):

dav
3.5/5
I personally found the fish to be underseasoned and on the bland side; otherwise however, I quite liked the dish. The salmon was very tender and juicy; in fact, I prefer it over more expensive cuts.

I had relatively high expectations of this restaurant since it appears to have pretty good reviews, and I am left somewhat disappointed. While I don’t think that this place is bad, but I doubt that I’ll return either. Not quite the celebration that I wanted, but oh well. I’ll have plenty of more opportunities to celebrate in the days to come. Trafiq, here I come

Sushi S Japanese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Baker & Table

Baker & Table is a small bakery located on Fraser St. near 49th avenue. They offer a selection of Japanese-inspired goods, which helps distinguish them from the very popular Breka Bakery located just a block away. On my visit there, I got their Matcha Tiramisu, Red Bean Melonpan, and Belgian Chocolate and Caramel Roasted Apricot Torte.

Matcha Tiramisu ($5.5):


3.5/5
Technically not a tiramisu since it hasn’t got any coffee or marscapone. The cake is a bit on the dry side, but that is countered by the layers of matcha and chocolate mousse sandwiched in between. The matcha flavour was quite weak and I personally would have liked the cake to be a bit sweeter overall (I have a high sugar tolerance).

Red Bean Melonpan ($3.25):


3/5
Considering that I’m not a big fan of red bean desserts, this was pretty good. The bun was fluffy and soft, and the red beans had a good texture (soft but not mushy) and a good sweetness. Those who do like red beans will probably enjoy this.

Belgian Chocolate and Caramel Roasted Apricot Torte ($5.5):


4.5/5
I’m a huge chocoholic, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this is my favourite of the three items that I’ve tried. Unlike the tiramisu, the cake was considerably more moist and the chocolate flavour strong and bold. Although there wasn’t that much apricot, the few pieces that I did encounter were juicy and lended a nice tangy contrast to the chocolate. This cake satisfied my chocolate fix, and left me a happy camper for the day.

While I did like most of the food offered by Baker & Table, I do take issue with their prices. The sizes of their cake slices are quite small, and I do feel that >$5 overpriced, especially considering that Breka across the street is offering equally delicious cakes with considerably more generous portions at lower prices. However, if you are a fan of Asian-style desserts, then this bakery is a good alternative.
Baker & Table Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pie Hole

I was recently reading a paper (I think it was Metro) that contained a review of the Pie Hole. The writer had some very positive things to say about their homemade crust and fantastic pie fillings. This was more than enough to prompt me to visit the shop a few days later. I was hoping to try out “Colleen’s Mistake”, not just because of the name, but also because their website describes it as “our buttery crust is filled with a rich chocolate fudgey centre and topped with maple candied salted pecans and house made whipped cream and caramel sauce“. Seriously, are you not drooling? Unfortunately, as per usual, they weren’t serving that pie at the time of my visit *sob*. I did notice that their website has an option of ordering pies 48 hours in advance though. I don’t know if they do it for individual slices, but I’ll give it a shot (or maybe I’ll just order the entire pie; I’m sure I can finish one by myself). Anyways, from the selection that they had, I picked their Pulled Pork Handpie as well as their Canadian Maple Pie.

Pulled Pork Handpie ($7.25):

4.5/5

The crust was every bit as good as I had hoped: rich, flaky and buttery. There was a good generous amount of pulled pork filling, which was tender, juicy and flavourful.

Canadian Maple Pie ($7):

4/5

The filling had a good assertive maple flavour and was sweet withought being overwhelmingly so. The whipped cream topping fresh, mildly sweet, and a welcomed contrast to the sweeter filling. Of course, due to the filling, the bottom crust of the pie did become a bit soggy, and the crust on the outer edge was slightly over-baked (i.e. it was a bit bitter in some parts). It was still flaky though and melted in my mouth.

While I really enjoyed the food, I do feel that the prices are a bit steep. I’m certain that they use really good, high quality ingredients, but I’m still not sure if that justifies the $7 price tag for a moderately-sized slice of pie. Nevertheless, I will definitely be returning to try some of their other offerings.

The Pie Hole  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bakery Sate – Now that’s a good cheesecake

The very first time that I’ve ever tried cheesecake was 18 years ago. It was probably just a month or so since my parents and I had arrived in Canada and I was about to turn 7. One of our friends, who has been living in Canada longer than we have, took us to Costco, and my parents got me a mango cheesecake for my birthday. We had no idea of what a cheesecake was (cheesecakes and other “Western” foods weren’t very common in China at the time). I was expecting an actual “cake” cake, and was surprised to be met with a thick layer of sour-tasting stuff that made me feel kind of nauseous since I wasn’t used to eating rich creamy stuff. None of us liked the cake, and we ended up tossing about 1/2 of it out.

Fast forward to current day, and I’ve become a banana. Well, maybe not quite, but I’ve certainly grown to appreciate Western cusine (as well as other non-Chinese foods) much more. And I’ve come to like cheesecake…New York-style Cheesecake that is. I’m not a big fan of soft, fluffy mousse-like desserts; they just don’t feel substantial enough. I like my cheesecakes to be firm and dense. Which is what brings me to Bakery Sate: I heard that they offered a mean Cheesecake of the New York variety. Of course, being a glutton, I wasn’t content with just a cake so I got their Nutella Banana Croissant Bread Pudding as well.

Display case. Sorry for the glare; I still suck at taking photos.

Nutella Banana Croissant Bread Pudding ($3.5):

4/5

I love nutella, I think it goes great with bananas (and just about everything else), and I like croissants, so this sounded like a sure hit. The bread pudding had a nice crispy outer crust of buttery croissants and was filled with generous chunks of bananas. I did wish that there was more nutella, but that’s probably because I’m a huge nutella lover.

Cheesecake ($5.5):

5/5

Now that’s what I call a good cheesecake! The curd was smooth, creamy, and had the firmer texture that I want in cheesecakes.¬† It was coated with crushed walnuts, which not only added a good crunchy texture, but also a great nutty flavour. The crust also had a nutty flavour, and was a welcomed textural contrast to the curd. It was topped with a thick layer of sweet whipping cream that went surprisingly well with the tanginess of the cake. Overall, this was easily the best cheesecake that I’ve had in a long time.

My visit to Bakery Sate has certainly made me a fan. I cannot wait to be back to try out some of their other delicious-looking cakes and pastries.

Bakery Sate Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato