Lab Retreat (Coconut Thai Restaurant & Decades Coffee Club)

So I recently got dragged on a lab retreat with my colleagues, and I’m not exaggerating about the being dragged part: I initially said that I didn’t want to go, but then received an email from The Boss basically ordering me to come along (partly because I didn’t go on the retreat the year before and party because he knows that I’m extremely antisocial). We spent three days up in the mountains in Chilliwack, doing some hiking and kayaking, as well as some very brief scientific discussions to justify our retreat. We made a couple of stops during our drive to and from the location, and I was reminded of why I like to eat alone.

1. I don’t like to hang out with people. Don’t get me wrong, the people at my lab are absolutely great and fine dining companions. I’m just a Gollum. I like to live inside my own little cave with my precious pastries and other treats.

2. I don’t get to pick which restaurant to go to. The Boss does, and The Boss is very picky and does not like any “shady” looking greasy spoons or diners. And for some reason The Boss during our trip decided that he wanted Thai food (even though there are like over a dozen Thai restaurants back home in Vancouver), so we ended up going to Coconut Thai Restaurant, which turned out to be a small, casual shop located near a large strip of stores and restaurants not far from the highway. Fortunately, there weren’t many people when we dropped by late in the afternoon and all 12 of us were able to get seated together at a long time. And this leads me to the third reason why I don’t like eating with others…

3. It takes FOREVER for everyone to finish deciding what they want. I’m a pretty impatient person. I tend to make decisions very quickly. About half of my dining companions, however, were much less decisive, and I found myself just sitting there, getting increasingly hangry while I waited for the others to finish making up their goddamn motherf***ing minds. It seriously took every ounce of self-control not to have a hangry meltdown.

In the end, we finally got our orders out. We got some appies (Satay, Popcon Shrimp, Crispy Wontons) to share, as well as individual dishes. I had their Lunch Pad Thai and Thai Iced Coffee.

Satay (Chicken, $7.99):

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Satay (Chicken)

3/5
One portion comes with 4 skewers, and was served with peanut sauce. We had the chicken version, which was made with white meat, and was a tad bit dry. However, I quite enjoyed the sauce, which had a great fragrance of coconut.

Popcorn Shrimp ($7.99):

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Popcorn Shrimp

3/5
This consisted of a small plate of fried shrimp that’s served with sweet chilli sauce. The shrimp had a nice crispy texture, and was quite flavourful, but were also very small. The portion was also quite small, probably more suitable for a single person than for sharing.

Crispy Wonton ($7.99):

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Crispy Wonton

3.5/5
The wontons were really nice and crispy, and was quite tasty when covered in the sweet and tangy plumb sauce. This was a simple dish that was surprisingly tasty.

Lunch Pad Thai (Chicken, $9.45):


3.5/5
I had the lunch version of their pad thai, which came in a smaller portion and came with a side of soup, salad, and spring roll. I quite enjoyed the pad thai: the noodles had a nice bouncy texture, a great fragrance of peanuts, and a nice tang. You get to chose how spicy you want your food; I requested spicy, and the heat level was perfect for me. I was quite disappointed by the lack of meat in the dish however: I had requested for chicken, but only received probably two pieces. The sides were okay: the soup was brothy and savoury with some vermicelli noodles while the spring roll was crispy but did not really had any filling inside.

Thai Iced Coffee ($2.50):

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Thai Iced Coffee

3/5
This was quite sweet; I actually could not detect any coffee flavour, just sweetness. I thought that the coffee was supposed to be like this, but according to one of my dining companions, who had been to more Thai restaurants than me, their iced tea was also overly sweet.

I was lukewarm on Thai Coconut. The food was okay, but not particularly memorable. I found the portions for their appetizers to be a bit small for sharing, but their lunch specials are pretty good deals. The service was fairly attentive, but not overly warm or friendly. All in all, this wasn’t a bad place, but not one that I’d necessarily recommend either.

Summary:
Food: 3/5
Price: 3.5/5
Service: 3/5
Overall: 3/5
Recommendations: Pad Thai

On our return back, we stopped by another joint in Chilliwack for late lunch/early dinner. Once again The Boss chose the spot, and this time he decided to go to a coffee shop named Decades Coffee Club. Yes, The Boss loves his coffee (he even brought his own espresso machine along for the trip so that he can get his espressos every day). Since it was pretty late in the afternoon when we visited (around 5 o’clock), the baked good/dessert selection in the shop was pretty limited. They have a relatively limited food menu consisting of different fillings (Bella Roma, Tropical Chicken, Pesto Chicken) in either flatbread, panini, wrap or quesadilla form, as well as a decent selection of either cold or hot drinks. I had a Pesto Chicken Quesadilla, Nachos, and their Seasonal London Fog. This brings me to the 4th reason why I don’t like eating with others:

4. I’m a glutton. I’ve got a freakishly massive appetite. I didn’t know how big the portions at the shop were, and I was worried that I’d still be hungry if I just got one quesadilla. On the other hand, I didn’t want to order too much food for fear of being regarded as either a massive glutton by my peers, or worse, a moocher since The Boss was covering all the food costs for the trip. I ended up getting some nachos since it’s generally regarded as a shareable item and I could get it under the pretense of wanting to share with others (which I did).

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Food & Drink Menu

Seasonal London Fog (12 oz, $4.85):

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Seasonal London Fog

3.5/5
Their seasonal version was lavender flavoured. The tea had a really nice fragrance of citrus, and was very creamy and foamy. It was a tad on the sweeter side, and I would have liked the tea flavour to be stronger. I also was unable to detect any lavender.

Nachos ($12.45):

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Nachos

1.5/5
This consisted of tortilla chips topped with cheese, tomatoes and olives, and were served with sour cream and salsa. I did not really care much for this dish. The chips I found to be a bit stale and not as crispy as I want. There wasn’t that much cheese present, and most of the chips were bare. I did enjoy the sour cream.

Pesto Chicken Quesadilla ($10.65):

mde
Pesto Chicken Quesadilla

4/5
This consisted of a tortilla filled with pesto, chicken, and cheese. The menu describes it best “simple and delicious”. The tortilla was perfectly grilled and was nice and crispy. There was a generous amount of filling inside. The chicken was incredibly tender and juicy while the cheese and pesto lent great flavour and richness.

Again, I was quite lukewarm on Decades. I really enjoyed their quesadilla, but I did not like their nachos. If I had been visiting the place by myself, I’d have likely gone for two quesadillas, or one quesadilla and a flatbread/panini.

Summary:
Food: 3/5
Price: 3.5/5
Service: 3/5
Overall: 3/5
Recommendations: Pesto Chicken Quesadilla

I know that I like to complain a lot, but I have to say the retreat was not half bad. Okay, I’d still have MUCH preferred to have stayed at home in my own little cave hissing and stroking a piece of cake (I’m so sorry for this disturbing image), but I’m still glad to have spent some time socializing with my lab mates and, more importantly, not offending my boss. We had a hike during our last day up into the mountains. I almost perished during the trip, but I did get some nice pics (proof that I did actually go up the mountain).

Coconut Thai Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Decades Coffee Club Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Trafiq

I always get excited every time I visit Trafiq, which is still my favourite bakery in all of Vancouver. The place has the most stunning cakes that I have ever seen that actually taste every bit as great as they appear. Honestly, if the world is coming to an end, I’d spend the final days at Trafiq eating all of their treats. During my latest trip, I had their Schnecken, Decadent Brownie with Pecans, Carrot, Exotique, and Chocolate Decadence Cakes, and a Butter Croissant for my mom.

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The gates of heaven

Schnecken ($3.75):


4/5
This was their version of a sticky/cinnamon bun, and consisted of a roll that is covered in toffee sauce and bits of walnuts. The bread itself was quite soft, tender and fluffy. I loved the toffee sauce, which was gooey, had a great caramelized flavour, as well as a wonderful fragrance from the nuts.

Carrot Cake ($6.95):


4/5
This consisted of four layers of carrot cake sandwiching cream cheese frosting. The cake was moist, had a nice flavour of cinnamon and other spies, and was chock full of nuts. The cream cheese frosting was smooth and not too heavy, and had the great tangy flavour that I love. Unfortunately the slice that I got was a bit older (it was the last one remaining from the entire cake), and I did find the almond and cereal decorations to be stale-tasting.

Decadent Brownie with Pecans ($3.75):


4.5/5
This was topped with a layer of chopped nuts. The brownie itself was very dense and fudgy, just the way that I like, with a great chocolaty flavour. The nuts lent a wonderful crunch, fragrance, as well as just a tad of salt. This is a very basic treat that’s done very well.

Exotique Cake ($6.95):


4.5/5
“Silky coconut mousse, refreshing tropical fruit, “semi-freddo”
This is one of their new summer flavours (which may or may not remain on the menu for long). The cake was, as expected, incredibly tender and moist, and the mousse was luscious with a wonderful fragrance from the coconut. The layer of fruit in the middle (which appears to contain mango and pieces of pineapple) had a great tartness. The one complaint I have is that the filling was rather wet, and did make the cake just a bit soggy. This is a very tropical and refreshing dessert, and perfect for those looking for something a bit lighter.

Chocolate Decadence Cake ($6.95):


5/5
This consisted of layers of chocolate cake and mousse, enclosed in a thin layer of chocolate ganache and is topped with a chocolate truffle. This is one of my favourite cakes in all of Vancouver, and I just have to get it every time I visit Trafiq. The cake is moist, dense and rich while the mousse is smooth and luscious, with a perfect bitter sweet flavour. The truffle has the texture of a really dense and fudgy brownie. The slice is pretty generous – some people may be able to share but I can polish off one easily. Seriously, I can probably polish off 2-3 slices if I don’t control myself.

Butter Croissant ($3.25):

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Butter Croissant

N/A
My mom had this. She absolutely LOVED it and thought that it was one of the best plain croissants that she’s ever had.

I loved everything from Trafiq. They are still easily the greatest bakery in all of Vancouver. Their prices have increased since last year: their cake slices are now going for close to $7 (from $6). However, given the incredible quality (and pretty good portion), I think that the prices are more than worth it. All in all, if you like sweets at all, seriously go and treat yo self at Trafiq.

Summary:
Food: 4.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 4.5/5
Recommendations: Schnecken, Brownies, Any of their Cakes
Trafiq Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Romer’s Burger Bar

As I’ve stated in previous posts, I do try to keep an open mind when it comes to people’s food preferences. There are exceptions however, and one thing that I just CANNOT get behind are lettuce buns. Like why? Seriously, why? I consider myself to be pretty relaxed when it comes to things like “authenticity” (a term that I do not believe in when it comes to food). I’m fine with people putting their own spins are different dishes. But lettuce buns are just a ten steps too far. A burger with a lettuce bun is just not a burger to me; its an abomination. If I were running the country, I’d have the practice of using lettuce buns banned. People who order burgers with lettuce buns should be stoned…okay, maybe that’s a bit too much, but you know what I mean. And I know that you can make the argument that it isn’t any of my business and that it doesn’t really “affect” me the way other people eat, but that’s not quite true: I honestly die a little on the inside whenever I see a burger wrapped in lettuce :(.

Thus, when I went to Romer’s Burger Bar, there was no question on what bun I was going with for my burger. The latter is a popular oint with several locations around Greater Vancouver; the one I went to was their Kits location located on 4th Avenue. Although they are a ‘burger bar’ they do also serve a pretty good variety of casual pub fare and snacks. I got their Righteous Rib Burger as well as Romer’s Almost World Famous Drunken Doughnuts.

Righteous Rib Burger ($13.95):


3.5/5
In addition to a beef patty, this burger contained braised short rib, maple smoked bacon, sweet onions, gorgonzola cream, and fresh thyme. I was quite impressed by the patty itself, which was tender and juicy. The short rib was a bit uneven, being tender in some parts, but quite dry and hard in some others, particularly around the edges. I really enjoyed the gorgonzola cream, which added a great juiciness and flavour and the brioche bun (because a real burger has to have an actual bun and not lettuce) was soft and fluffy. I did find the overall flavour to be a bit one note: everything was savoury and I could have done with a bit of sweetness to balance out the flavour.

Romer’s Almost World Famous Drunken Doughnuts ($8.95):


4/5
This consisted of 10 small donuts that were dusted in powdered sugar, and were served with a trio of dips: limoncello, maple whisky, and Kahula Nutella. The donuts themselves were fresh, warm and soft, reminiscent of the mini donuts that you can get at PNE. The limoncello dip was similar to that of the curd in a lemon tart, and was quite thick with a wonderful tanginess. In all honesty, I couldn’t really tell the difference between the other two dips, although both were tasty, except that one (the darker dip, which is probably the Khula Nutella) had a stronger liquor flavour than the other.

I quite enjoyed the food that I’ve sampled at Romer’s. While I didn’t find their burgers to be mind-blowing, especially for the pretty steep price (quite frankly, I actually think Red Robins is better), I did really enjoy their doughnuts. The server I had was quite friendly, although not particularly attentive. All in all, not a bad place to check out if you’re craving a burger or some other pub fare (Proven fact: a cute innocent puppy dies every time someone orders a lettuce bun, so keep that in mind when you’re ordering your burger).

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 3.5/5
Service: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Romer’s Almost World Famous Drunken Doughnuts

Romer's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tandoori Fusion

I try to keep an open mind and not judge people by their tastes, whether it is in people, fashion, movies or food. You like what you like. Hey, I enjoyed most of the recent DC movies, even though everyone else seems to hate them, and I didn’t like Star Wars, even though most people love them. It’s the same with food. I don’t care for most seafood, but I do LOVE Chinese fastfood. There’s nothing wrong with that: all tastes are subjective.

But I will have to admit, I do get very annoyed with my conservative, close-minded parents who literally hate everything, including other country’s/culture’s cuisines. This goes especially for my dad – I swear the only thing he eats are congee, mung bean soup, and stewed daikons. But one of the cuisines that they hate the most are Indian/Middle Eastern food. They can’t stand the smell of spice, saying that it “stinks”. Thus, I have to eat out to get my fix for aromatic, flavourful curries. Recently, I decided to try out Tandoori Fusion, a small Indian restaurant located on Broadway what I’d often pass when taking the 99 from UBC. During my visit, I got their Butter Chicken, Lamb Korma. Now, I had heard that their curries are served with a side of rice or naan, but apparently that’s only for takeout orders: you have to actually pay extra for the sides if you are eating in. I decided to go with a side of Plain Naan and some Veggie Samosas.

Butter Chicken ($16):

4/5
The curry was creamy with a nice sweetness and tang without being overly tomatoey (which I enjoy). There was a pretty fair amount of chicken present, which in spite of being white meat, is still quite tender and flavourful.

Lamb Korma ($18):

4/5
The curry was savoury and flavourful, with a warm heat, and is filled with bits of ground nuts. There was a good amount of large chunks of lamb present, which were tender without any hint of gaminess, and well seasoned.

Plain Naan ($2.50):

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Plain naan

4/5
Since I ate in, I had to pay for the naan (they provide complimentary rice/naan with their curries if you get takeout). The naan was fresh, soft and fluffy, and was fantastic when dipped into the curry sauce.

Veggie Samosa ($6):


4/5
One order comes with two modest-sizd samosas. The samosas weren’t exactly crispy, but had more of a soft, flaky outer crust, and are filled with a generous amount of savoury and flavourful potatoes and peas.

I really enjoyed the food at Tandoori Fusion: I found their meat curries to be all extremely flavourful and served in pretty good portions. I did find their prices to be a bit steep however, especially since they don’t include any sides for their curries. All in all, this place is definitely worth checking out; I’d just recommend getting takeout instead of eating in as it is a better deal.

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 3/5
Service: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Curries, Naan
Tandoori Fusion Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fortuna Bakery

Ever since finding an alternative route to the Burnaby Heights via 49 and 130, I’ve been more keen on visiting the restaurants/bakeries in that region. A few weeks ago, I had the chance to visit the Valley Bakery. More recently, I was able to visit Fortuna Bakery. The latter is a Portuguese/Italian bakery located on East Hastings, that serve a large assortment of breads, pastries, cakes, and other baked goods. You take a number from the front counter and wait to be called. During my visit, I got to sample several of their cakes: Triple chocolate Tiger, Apple Cheesecake, Red Velvet, Carrot, Vanilla Slice (which I gave to my mom), and one simple named as “Cake Slice” (which I believe is a St. Honore Cake).

“Cake Slice” ($3.10):


4/5
This appears to be a St. Honore Cake, and consisted of sponge cake and custard in between some puff pastry, and is covered in cream and docrated with a small custard-filled cream puff. The cake was soft, light and luscious, and was mildly sweet with a nice fragrance. The cream tasted fresh and was lightly sweet. The cream puff was a bit soft, but had a generous amount of creamy custard inside. The only thing that I did not care for was the puff pastry, which had of course gone soggy from the custard and was difficult to cut through.

Triple Chocolate Tiger Cake ($2.30):


4/5
This consisted of layers of chocolate and vanilla cake sandwiching milk and white chocolate mousse, and was covered with milk and white chocolate ganache. The cake was dense but moist, and had a nice cocoat flavour, while the layers of mousse were creamy and sweet. This is a pretty flavourful and sweet dessert, and requires a bit of a sweet tooth to enjoy.

Apple Cheesecake ($2.20):


3/5
This consisted of layers of apple and cheesecake on top of a breadcrumb crust, and is topped with a strussel. The cheesecake strangely did not resemble a cheesecake at all – it was more like a thick, dry custard that was mildly sweet without much tang. The strussel was soft, but had some sweetness while the apples provided a nice bit of crunch. I also found the cake to be just a bit stale/freezer-burned. However, in spite of its flaws, I did still find it to be fairly enjoyable.

Red Velvet Cake ($3.10):


4.5/5
This was a straightfoward cake consisting of layers of red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, as well as bits of chocolate cake. The layers of cake were dense, yet tender. I loved the bits of chocolate cake, which had a great fudgy flavour. I did also enjoy the cream cheese, which was luscious and sweet, although I do wish that it could be a bit tangier.

Carrot Cake ($3.10):


4.5/5
This is another straightforward cake consisting of layers of carrot cake sandwiching cream cheese frosting. The cake again was dense but moist and tender, and chock full of carrots, walnuts, and other pieces of fruit. It also had a nice bit of spice. Strangely, I actually enjoyed the frosting a bit more in this cake compared to the red velvet (even though they should be the same), and thought that it was a bit tangier.

Vanilla Slice ($3.10):


N/A

With the exception of the cheesecake, I thoroughly enjoyed all of the treats that I got from Fortuna Bakery. The prices are also a steal. The service was a bit slow: I had to wait probably 15 minutes to be served, but the staff are quite friendly. All in all, I really enjoyed my visit, and I HIGHLY recommend checking this place out.

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 4.5/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 4/5
Recommendations: Carrot Cake, Red Velvet Cake
Fortuna Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Storm Crow Alehouse

I’ve just found the geekiest pub in Vancouver and that is Storm Crow Alehouse. The latter is located on Broadway near Granville (they also have a second location named Storm Crow Tavern located on Commercial Drive). From the moment you walk in, you just feel happy. The walls are decorated with various sci-fi/fantasy posters (I’ve got a huge crush on Nathan Fillion and got a kick out of seeing a poster of my future husband Malcolm Reynolds), they have anime on the televisions (they had One Punch Man playing when I visited; seriously addictive show), and they have a large assortment of various board games stored in the back of the room. The names of their food is also unique, with references to geek stuff like Game of Thrones (which I love) and Star Wars (which I honestly am not big on – please don’t kill me). I had their Chalet Poutine 2000 and Mac & Cheese KD6-3.7.

Chalet Poutine 2000 ($14):


4/5
This is regular poutine (fries with cheesecurds and gravy) that’s served with sour cream, bacon bits and pickled onions. The fries that have not been soaked in the gravy were fresh and crispy, and well-seasoned. I quite enjoyed the gravy as well, which was not overly starchy and had a nice hint of pepper flavour. The sour cream and bacon bits paired surprisingly well with the poutine; I do wish that there was a bit more bacon present however.

Mac & Cheese KD6-3.7 + Pulled Pork ($15 + $4):


3/5
The noodles in the mac and cheese were tender while still retaining some texturing. I did find the sauce to be a bit too dry, causing the noodles to all clump together. More importantly however, I found the dish to be quite underseasoned and bland. I added pulled pork to my dish, and for $4 they do give you a pretty generous amount. Unfortunately, while the pork was tender and juicy, it was also quite bland and had only a mildly sweet flavour without much salt.

Although the food at Storm Crow Alehouse was not spectacular (although still enjoyable), their unique catering to those who like sci-fi/anime/fantasy makes this place worth checking out. If you are into geek culture, this is definitely a great place to visit with a group of friends.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Chalet Poutine
Storm Crow Alehouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

MDG Ma Dang Goul

I love KFC. It is probably the first fast food that I became obsessed with (McDonalds seriously SUCKED when I was living in China – I’m sure that they’ve probably improved now). However, I’ve now realised that there is another type of KFC: Korean Fried Chicken. I’ve sampled the dish a couple of times, and was having a serious hankering for it. To satisfy my craving, I decided to head out to MDG Ma Dang Goul, a small, causal Korean restaurant located on Denman, not far from Stanley Park. I got my KFC (Yangnyum Chicken) as well as a Haemul Paenon.

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Banchan

Haemul Paeon ($18.95):

mde
Haemul Paeon (Seafood Pancake)


3.5/5
This is a seafood pancake containing green onion, potato, squid, shrimp and mussel, and is served with a tangy and slightly spicy dipping sauce. The bottom crust was a bit soggy, but the top was nice and crispy from the fried potato. There was a pretty good amount of seafood present – I was not a particular fan of the mussels, but that’s just my personal taste. It was a bit bland on its own, but was pretty good when dipped into the sauce (or the yangnyum chicken, which I also ordered).

Yangnyum Chicken ($19.95):


4/5
This consisted of large pieces of battered chicken coated in a thick, sticky sauce. I guess that this is probably best described as a more gourmet version of sweet & sour/sesame chicken. There was quite a large amount of batter on the chicken, which would normally be a flaw, but in this case I actually didn’t mind as the batter was very crispy and just as tasty as the meat. The meat itself was tender and juicy. The sauce wasn’t spicy to me, but had more of a tangy/sweet and slightly fishy (though not in a bad way) flavour.

My visit to Ma Dong Goul has certainly helped satisfy my craving for KFC. The service was also decent: the staff were reasonably friendly, though not the most attentive. All in all, while this place did not blow me away (I prefer So Hyang), it is still a decent spot for some decent Korean food.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 3.5/5
Service: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Yangnyum Chicken
MDG Ma Dang Goul Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pane from Heaven

If there is one thing that I can take away from Seinfield it’s that muffin tops are the best part of a muffin. I like my muffins to come with nice, big tops. A muffin without a top is not a muffin worth eating. At least that was my belief until my recent visit to Pane from Heaven. The latter is a small bakery/cafe located near Kits Beach offering a small selection of quick bites and fresh baked goods. I got a Carrot Cake and Cornish Pastie. I initially did not want to get their muffins seeing that they didn’t have the wide tops that I like, but considering that they were only $2.75, I decided to bite the bullet and get a Blueberry Muffin.

Carrot Cake ($4.25):


3/5
The cake was a tad on the dry/hard side, but had a nice amount of carrots and raisins. The frosting was a bit overly sweet and missing the tanginess that I really enjoy from cream cheese. This wasn’t bad, but nothing special either.

Cornish Pastie ($3.25):


3.5/5
The outer pastry was soft and flaky, and had a nice savoury flavour. The filling, which consisted of ground beef, onions, celery, carrots and other vegetables, was flavourful and had a nice bit of spice.

Blueberry Muffin ($2.75):


4.5/5
I was initially a bit disappointed that the muffin didn’t have a domed top, which I always contend to be the best part of the muffin (and not just because of Seinfield). Fortunately, the muffin turned out to be fantastic: soft and moist, with a nice fragrance as well as mild sweetness. There was also a generous amount of blueberries present. This was definitely one of the better muffins that I’ve had.

My visit to Pane from Heaven has really made me rethink my stance on muffins: perhaps I need to stop judging muffins by the size of their tops. The rest of the food is not bad either. All in all, this is a ncie place to drop by if you’re in the area and are looking for a quick bite or coffee.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 3.5/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Muffins

Pane From Heaven Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Koko Monk

Note to self: do NOT enter a small artisinal chocolate shop if you are the only customer present. Not unless you’re willing to overspend on some extremely expensive chocolates because the staff (whose attention will be all on you) is friendly and gives you samples, and you end up feeling too damn guilty not to buy something. That happened last year, when I ended up spending almost $60 on a box of chocolates at Lisa Lou’s. More recently I had a similar experience at Koko Monk. The latter is a small chocolatier located near Kits beach offering handmade artisinal chocolates, drinks, and various pastries. It was empty when I entered, and I was immediately greeted by a lady who provided me with samples of their caramel and chocolate bars. Although I had initially only intended on getting their pastries, I just felt too guilty/embarassed now not to buy some of their chocolates. I ended up getting a few of their individual chocolates (Musee L’amour, Salted Caramel, Koko Turca), pastries (Chocolate Raspberry Brownie, Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart and Sour Cherry Tart) and a Matcha Bar for my mom. In total, I ended up spending about $35, almost $20 of which was on 3 small pieces of chocolate and a small chocolate bar.

Musee L’amour ($2.50):
4/5
In-house made raw pistachio praline with calamansi.
The chocolate was of high quality and melted in my mouth, and had a nice bittersweet flavour. The pistachio was rich and creamy while the the calamansi provided a wonderful citrusy fragrance.

Salted Caramel ($2.50):
4/5
Salted caramel, himalayan sea salt and raw sugar.
The chocolate was bittersweet while the caramel was sweet with a wonderful toffee fragrance. The texture of the caramel was a bit different from what I’m used to: in the past caramel is usually either runny or chewy. Here, it’s more like a paste.

Koko Turca ($2.50):
2.5/5
Turkish coffee and irish cream infused chocolates with nuts (almond and cashew)
The chocolate was again good, and melted in my mouth. Unfortunately, I really did not care for the flavours here: it had a strange, almost pungent scent that I really did not like. This did not work for me.

Chocolate Raspberry Brownie ($4.79):


4/5
This consisted of brownie with raspberry perserves and a layer of chocolate ganache. The brownie as nice, dense and fudgy. The raspberry preserves were filled with seeds and paired very well with the sweetness of the chocolate.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart ($4.79):


4/5
This consisted of a shortbread crust filled with a layer of caramel and one of chocolate ganache. The shortbread crust was tender and cut easily, although it was a bit bland on its own. The caramel just had a wonderful fragrance while the chocolate ganache melted in my mouth. I also quite enjoyed the cereal balls on top, which provided a nice bit of crunch.

Sour Cherry Tart ($4.79):


4/5
This consisted of a shortbread crust filled with cherry perserves and topped with strussel. Again, I did find the shortbread to be a bit bland. I did really like the filling however, which had a nice balance between sweetness and tart, and contained large pieces of cherry, while the streussel had a nice buttery flavour.

Matcha Bar ($9:49):

dav
Matcha Bar

4.5/5
My mom had most of the bar, but I was able to sample a small piece thanks to the staff and oh wow, the matcha flavour in this is seriously INTENSE! I don’t think that I’ve ever had any matcha-flavoured dish where the matcha is so prominently featured. They use really great quality too. I strongly recommend checking this out if you are a fan of matcha-flavoured desserts. Just be warned, it is pretty expensive – a small 75g bar will set you back almost $10.

The food was very good and you can tell that they are made from high quality ingredients. I do have to warn though: the prices for their chocolates are very steep: I ended up spending almost $20 for 3 small pieces of chocolate and a small bar. All in all, this is a very good independent store that I’d recommend checking out if you have enough money.

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 2/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Tarts, Matcha Bar (if you’re willing to spend the money)
Koko Monk Chocolates Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Jethro’s Fine Grub

It’s always sad when I see a non-chain restaurant close down, but that just seems to be a common occurrence in Vancouver nowadays. One of the latest victims to fall is the Dunbar location of Jethro’s Fine Grub. Even though I wasn’t completely blown away by their Gold Rush Pancakes – I thought that they had too much baking soda in them – I did really like their Banana Bread French Toast (whcih was seriously just as good as it sounds). Moreover, their portion sizes were seriously huge. I’m a massive eater, and in 95% of cases I can easily put down a plate of food that other reviewers claim is large enough to stretch into two meals. I seriously could not finish a stack of their pancakes. In fact, Jethro’s currently holds the ‘honours’ of being the only place that I’ve visited thus far where I could not finish a serving of their food. RIP.

Fortunately, Jethro’s does have another location on Fraser, which is currently still operating. Not knowing how long that place is going to stay open, and wanting to make sure that I get at least another go at their huge pancakes, I paid them a visit. I got their Rooster Pancakes a side of Biscuits & Gravy, and a side of their Pulled Pork.

The Rooster ($14):

dav
The Rooster pancakes – massive!


3.5/5
This consisted of two buttermilk pancakes that are stuffed with chocolate chips and are topped with whipped cream. Jethro’s are known for having probably the largest pancakes in Vancouver, with each pancake being about 2-3 times larger than most places. I quite liked the texture, with the pancakes being quite light and fluffy. Previously, I’ve had issues with the overpowering flavour of baking soda; this time around, it actually wasn’t nearly as bad (I could still taste it, but it wasn’t nearly as strong). I loved the chocolate chips, which were sweet and gooey – I do wish that they had more of it present. I do have to mention that the top pancake is better than the bottom one, which is much flatter (perhaps from being squished by the top one) and smaller. Of course, with all the other food that I had ordered, I was not able to make much of a dent into my pancakes and ended up taking most of the dish home in their pizza-sized boxes.

Side Biscuits & Gravy ($6):


3.5/5
This consisted of two large pieces of biscuits smothered in gravy. The gravy was a bit overly thick, but was not gummy and still quite enjoyable. The biscuits had quite a hard outer crust (you can’t cut through it; you have to pick the biscuit up and bite it), but a relatively tender interior. While neither the biscuits nor the gravy were particularly salty on its own, I did find that when eaten together it does get a bit too much (and I’m one who loves salt). It is quite filling, and a very good deal for only $6.

Side Pulled Pork ($4):

dav
Side Pulled Pork

2.5/5
The pork was quite tender and juicy. Unfortunately, it was seriously underseasoned: it was just flavourless and bland on its own. I did enjoy it with my side of biscuits however.

I really enjoyed my visit to Jethro’s. Although the food’s not exactly mindblowing, it was still very enjoyable and being the gluten I am, I love their huge portions. The service is also very good for the type of place it is: the server I had was very friendly and attentive. All in all, I’d recommend checking this place out for some affordable and reasonably tasty diner food. Just be warned, they do only take cash or debit (I know that their site appears to say they accept visa as well, but that’s not the case).

Summary:
Food: 3/5
Price: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Rooster Pancakes, Biscuits & Gravy, Banana Bread French Toast (from previous visit)
Jethro's Fine Grub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato