Vera’s Burger Shack – UBC

During my recent to the UBC location of Pizza Garden, I passed by Vera’s Burger Shack and realised that it’s been some time since I’ve had a burger. Thus, I decided to visit the spot the next day. The place, for those of you that haven’t visited, serves customizable burgers as well as about a dozen “Hall of Fame” varieties, along with hot dogs and various sides (fries, poutine, onion rings etc). They do also have daily specials where, for $14.5, you get a burger (which changes depending on the day), fries, and bottomless drink. Since it was Friday, I had the choice between any of the burgers from Monday-Thursday specials. I got a Stinger Burger and also substituted my fries for Jalapeno Bottle Caps for an extra $3.

dav
The only hall of fame I care about

Stinger Burger with Jalapeno Bottle Caps ($14.50 + $3):


3.5/5
The burger came with jalapeno bottle caps & cheddar. The burger itself seemed relatively small, but was fairly thick and surprisingly filling. The patty was quite thick and juicy, and all the sauces and fillings made it quite flavourful. The jalapeno poppers were quite crispy on the outside, and had a nice bit of heat; it was a little lukewarm and mushy on the interior, however.

In the end, I do think that all the jalapenos might have been a bit too much (not going to go into details, but I did have regrets a few hours later). The burger was fairly tasty, although I do find their prices to be a bit steep for the type of restaurant. Personally, I do much prefer Red Robins, but I think that this is still a decent place for a burger.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 3.5/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Burgers
Vera's Burger Shack Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pizza Garden – UBC

Probably the first food that I’ve had at UBC was pizza from Pie R Squared. A considerable number of new pizza places have appeared over the years. One of them is Pizza Garden, which is located at University Village, right next to an A&W. In addition to whole pies, they also offer premade slices, which they’ll heat up for you (they also have a few chairs available if you want to eat in; otherwise, they’ll pack your slices in a box for you to go). I had their Hawaiian, Pollo Eccllente, and Calabria slices.

Hawaiian Slice ($2.85):


3.5/5
This was topped with prosciutto and pineapple. Even though the pizza wasn’t hot by the time I got to it, the crust was still quite crispy. The outer edges were a bit too tough/chewy, however. The amount of topping was a tad on the sparser side, though still substantial enough to make the pizza tasty and flavourful. Although according to their website, the meat here is supposed to be prosciutto, I think it’s actually ham (it tastes like it at least). I quite enjoyed the pineapple (yes, I’m on that team) with provided a nice sweetness.

Pollo Eccllente Slice ($2.85):

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Pollo Eccllente Slice

3.5/5
This was topped with grilled chicken, spinach, red peppers and onions. the chicken was white meat, and was hence a bit on the dry side, but was at least well seasoned. I enjoyed the onions, which lent a nice flavour.

Calabria Slice ($2.85):

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Calabria Slice

3.5/5
This was topped with sausage, capicolla, and hot soppressata. This was probably the most flavourful of the three slices that I’ve tried. My favourite was the soppressata, which had a great bit of heat (be warned if you don’t like heat).

The pizza at Pizza Garden was fairly enjoyable: their crust were crispy even when cold, and while they weren’t overly generous with their topping, it was still substantial. The prices aren’t exactly cheap, but not unreasonable either. This isn’t my favourite pizza place, but it’s worth stopping by for a quick bite at UBC.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 3.5/5
Service: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Pizza Slices
Pizza Garden Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Meinhardt

I’ve passed by Meinhardt a number of times while visiting Pacific Centre, and recently decided to check this place out. For some reason, I always thought that the place was some kind of cafe due to signs that they’d have outside advertising breakfast/lunch specials. Well, it turns out they’re actually a grocery store in the vain of Whole Foods. Oh well. They still have quite a large selection of tasty-looking cakes and other desserts, as well as various other items. After much hemming and hawing, I settled on a Pork Empanada, Chocolate Decadence Cake Slice, and Black Forest Slab Cake.

Pork Empanada ($3.99):


3.5/5
The crust was a bit tough and not flaky enough for my liking. There was a generous amount of meat filling however, which was quite tender and juicy, and had a nice bit of heat.

Chocolate Decadence Cake Slice ($4.99):


3.5/5
This consisted of layers of chocolate sandwiching chocolate mousse, and was coated in chocolate buttercream. The cake was fairly tender and moist, while the mousse/buttercream was a bit hard/stiff, but not greasy. I did find it to be a tad on the sweet side. This is certainly no match for the version at Trafiq, but it is still fairly tasty.

Black Forest Slab Cake ($4.99):


4/5
The layers of cake was very tender and moist, with a nice bit of chocolate flavour. The cream was fresh and light, while the cherry fillings provided a great bit of tang.

Although I was a bit surprised/disappointed to find out that Meinhardt wasn’t what I thought it was, I did quite enjoy their food. The prices for their premade foods are fairly reasonable; I do find their groceries to be expensive, however. While I personally wouldn’t go there for groceries, their cakes are worth checking out.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 3.5/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Black Forest Slab Cake
Meinhardt Fine Foods Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

My Home Cuisine

When it rains it pours. For the past 2 months or so, all of my experiments have been disastrous. My gene cloning kept on failing (which is one of the most basic protocols in the lab, and is something that I’ve been successfully doing for several years), and I couldn’t figure out the source of my problem. When I told my supervisor, he told me that I was “degrading” because I haven’t been doing enough cloning lately and has gotten sloppy from lack of practice (which isn’t true because I’ve actually been cloning up to until the point when my cloning suddenly stopped working out of nowhere).

Anyways, feeling pretty low, I didn’t really have the energy to travel out far to find a spot to eat. I decided to just stick to the vicinity of UBC, and made my way down to the International Village. I decided to check out My Home Cuisine this time. They are a Chinese fast food shop with a menu consisting of combos, which comes with your choice of rice/noodle and 2 or 3 of their pre-prepared items (also the staff speak Mandarin, which was nice, as I can finally understand them and not look like an idiot like I did at Cafe Gloucester recently). I had their 2 Items Combo with Fried Rice and Sweet & Sour Pork and Sesame Chicken.

2 Items + Fried Rice (Sweet & Sour Pork, Sesame Chicken, $8):


3.5/5
Their combos comes with your choice of 2 items and either plain rice or fried rice/noodle for an extra 50 cents (I went with the fried rice). The sweet & sour pork and sesame chicken were both very meaty, well-seasoned and coated in a sweet sauce. They weren’t crispy, but that is expected since it’s fast food. I did find that the two meats were very similar flavour-wise; apart from being different meats, they did taste almost identical. The rice didn’t have much flavour on its own, but was fragrant and paired well with the meat.

I was pleasantly surprised by the food at My Home Cuisine. For a fast food joint, I found their dishes to be quite solid. The prices are also more than reasonable. This is a pretty solid place at UBC for some quick and tasty lunch.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: N/A (they only have combos)
My Home Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Petra Cafe

I know embarrassingly little about all the eateries that are around UBC. I’ve only been down to the Internal Food Court probably once or twice, and have never even heard of the existence of Petra Cafe until recently. The latter is one of several fast food places located in the aforementioned food court serving up popular Mediterranean dishes. I had their Beef Donair Wrap and Roast Lamb Plate.

Beef Donair Wrap ($6.80):


3.5/5
Taste-wise this would have been 4/5. The beef was quite tender and well-seasoned, the vegetables all tasted fresh, the pita bread was fluffy and chewy, and the sauces were flavourful. Unfortunately, my main complaint with this wrap is that it was pretty poorly made: it literally tore and all the fillings fell out when I tried to pick it up and eat it like a regular wrap (granted, I do have sausages for fingers, but still). I ended up just eating all the fillings and the wrap separately.

Roast Lamb Plate ($10.95):


3.5/5
All platters came with rice, potato, pita, salad, and tzatziki. The lamb itself was very tender and quite well-seasoned, and didn’t have any gamey flavour that usually puts me off. I did find there to be a bit too less meat (it contained a large bone), but for the price I really can’t complain. The salad was a bit bland and stingy on the feta, but the vegetables did taste fresh. The rice was a bit too soft for my liking, but flavourful, and contained beans and chickpeas. The pita was again soft and fluffy, and the tzatziki thick and tangy.

In spite of the mess from the donair wrap, the food at Petra Cafe. Their prices are also extremely reasonable. This is a spot at UBC that’s definitely worth checking out (I only wish that I had known about it sooner).

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4.5/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 4/5
Recommendations: Roast Lamb Plate, Beef Donair Plate
Petra Cafe 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):

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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

Rain or Shine Ice Cream

I’m generally not the biggest fan of ice cream. Don’t get my wrong, I certainly would gobble down a tub of ice cream if it’s there, but it’s not really my first choice for dessert. Thus, for the longest time, I resisted going to the new Rain or Shine Ice Cream shop that has opened at UBC. I mean seriously, how good can their ice cream possibly be to justify paying $7 for a small cup when I can probably get a full 2 Litre tub for the same price at a grocery store? But, after months of seeing a flood of people go past me every day, enjoying scoops of ice cream from the aforementioned shop, I finally caved. I stepped into the store today and…I ended up spending (and eating) $15 worth of ice cream by getting both a Sundae an a 2-Scoop Waffle Cone. Hey, go big or go home right? *I just have zero self control*

Sundae ($7):


4/5
The sundae consists of your choice of 2 scoops of ice cream, 2 toppings, whipped cream, and a cherry. I picked London Fog and Malted Milk Chocolate for my ice cream, and Candied Hazelnuts and Waffle Cone Pieces for my topping. The ice cream was dense without being overly hard, and very smooth. The London Fog had a great, assertive flavour of citrus and tea while the Malted Milk Chocolate had a nice fragrance an sweetness of honey comb. I really liked their waffle cone, which was fresh, and had a crispy yet at the same time tender, melt-in-your mouth texture. The hazelnuts were also fresh and crunchy.

2 Scoop with Waffle Cone ($7):


4/5
I picked Coffee Toffee and Peanut Butter for my scoops. The Peanut Butter was nothing short of fantastic, with a perfect balance between sweet and salty flavours and a wonderful fragrance from the peanut. The Coffee Toffee had a great fragrance of coffee, and a good bittersweet flavour; however, the toffee seems to be mia as I did not get any pieces at all. The waffle cone did get a bit soggy from the ice cream, but was still very tasty.

After having tried Rain or Shine Ice Cream, I must admit, I do understand why it’s such a popular shop. Even though their prices are steep, their quality certainly does justify the cost. This place is definitely worth checking out, especially during the relatively rare “shine” days in Vancouver. Hopefully you’ll have more self control than I do (I ended up having a bit of a stomach ache for the next several hours).

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 3.5/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 4/5
Recommendations: Peanut Butter, Malted Milk Chocolate, London Fog

The Fish Counter

Everything tastes better deep-fried in my opinion. Case in point: I typically don’t care for fish. At best it’s lean and boring, at worst it’s got some terrible, disgusting “fishy” smell. However, if you coat a piece of fish in batter, deep-fry it a golden-crispy brown and serve it up with a side of French fries and tartar sauce…well, let’s just say that you’ve got my interest.

Anyways, I was visiting my absolute favourite place in all of Vancouver this week, aka Trafiq (more on that in a future post), and I decided to make my way to The Fish Counter a few streets down for lunch. They are a small fish shop that happen to also have a kitchen serving up what many consider to be one of the best renditions of fish & chips in Vancouver. I got a 1 pc Halibut & Chips with an extra piece of Ling Cod.

1 pc Halibut & Chips ($14.95):

dav
Literally the ONLY time I’m excited about seafood


4/5
This was served with a side of slaw, tartar sauce, and a good amount of fries. The coating on the halibut was fantastic: light and crispy. The fish was meaty and flaky, and most importantly very fresh, without any off-putting smell. I did find the fish to be bland on its own however; I don’t think that they seasoned the meat at all. I personally didn’t really care for the slaw, which seemed to be dressed in some mustard and had a strong peppery flavour. Their fries were almost like actual potato chips as they were quite thinly sliced and very crispy (and tasty).

1 pc Ling Cod ($9.99):

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Lingcod

4/5
Once again, coating was incredibly light and crispy. The fish was juicier than the halibut, and again was extremely fresh and had no off flavour whatsoever. Again however, the fish did not seem to be seasoned and was a bit bland on its own.

Even though I’m usually not the biggest fan of seafood, I quite enjoyed the Fish & Chips at the Fish Counter. The prices are a bit high, but given their quality, I think that it’s worth the price. The seating is quite limited: there are only a few counters and benches available. I do wish that they could add some seats for their counter at the front of the room (currently you eat standing), but then again, I’m exceptionally lazy. All in all, this is a fantastic place for some quality, fresh and sustainable seafood.

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 3.5/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 4/5
Recommendations: Fish & Chips
The Fish Counter Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Vivo Deli

Potatoes are easily my favourite vegetable. You seriously can’t go wrong with them. Whether you fry them, bake them, roast them, boil them, mash them, stick them in a stew (LOTR’s one of my favourite movies fyi), they always taste fantastic. Heck, I even like potato salads. Considering my tremendous fondness for potatoes and all its different incarnations, it is a bit strange that I have never heard of knishes until recently. For those of you who don’t know, a knish is a Jewish dish consisting of a pastry that’s filled with mashed potatoes. It sounded amazing to a potato head like me, so I just had to try one (or, more accurately several) for myself. The only place in Vancouver that I could find serving this dish was Vivo Deli. They are a small shop located in Kerrisdale, right beside London Drugs. They offer several different varieties of knishes. I got a Chicken Mushroom, a BBQ Beef, and a Smoked Beef.

Chicken Mushroom Knish ($3.00):


4/5
This consisted of a pastry that’s filled with mashed potatoes, chicken, mushrooms, and fried onion. The pastry was soft and flaky while the potatoes were smooth and very well-seasoned and flavourful. I did find them to be just a bit stingy with the filling; however, the pieces of chicken that was present were tender and flavourful.

Smoked Beef Knish ($3.00):


4/5
This was similar to the chicken mushroom knish, except it contained smoked beef, egg, cheese, and fried onion. Again, I do wish that there was more meat and cheese mixed into the mashed potato. The small pieces of beef that were present was quite tender, and had a nice salty flavour. I could not detect any egg or onion however.

BBQ Beef Knish ($3.00):
N/A
I didn’t actually eat this myself: I gave it to my mom. It was completely, purely out of selfless, altruistic reasons, and definitely NOT because I was seriously stuffed from gorging myself on large heros and pizzas over the last few days. Anyways, she really enjoyed it, even though she did complain a bit about the beef being a bit “spicy” (she’s a whimp who can’t handle any heat).

I’ve really wanted to try a knish, and my visit to Vivo Deli has finally fulfilled my wish. Their prices are relatively reasonable: currently the knishes are going for $3 each (plus tax), but they do offer discounts when you buy multiple (I saved 50 cents by buying 3). They also offer bags of frozen knishes to take home. Be sure to check this place out if you happen to be in the area and are looking for a snack or lunch.

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 3.5/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 4/5
Recommendations: Knishes (whichever flavour you prefer)
Vivo at the Fair Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Frites with Benefits

So I’ve finally got myself a FWB. And no, I’m not talking about a friend with benefit. I mean who needs friends with benefit when you can have frites with benefits? You can’t eat your fri- okay I’m going to stopright there before it gets dirty. ANYWAYS, I was having a craving for poutine, so I decided to pay a visit to Frites with Benefits. They are one of several places in Downtown that offer French fries/poutines. They are more unique from other joints however in that they provide some unique Asian-fusion flavours like Kimchi and Okonomi. I got their Bacon and Pulled Pork Poutine.

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The various “benefits” that comes with your frites

Bacon and Pulled Pork Poutine (Regular Size, $8.99):


3.5/5
This came with a very generous amount of topping: there was a good heap of pulled pork and bacon bits. The pulled pork was sufficiently tender and juicy. It was more on the savoury side, and I personally prefer to have a bit of sweetness in my pulled pork. The bacon was smoky and had a good salty flavour. Now, I don’t know if it’s true, but I heard that authentic cheese curds aren’t supposed to melt, and theirs did, but seriously I couldn’t care less, I enjoyed the cheese. The fries were thick and flavourful. I do feel that they did use a bit too much gravy however, and the fries on the bottom got quite soggy.

On a return visit, I decided to try one of their gourmet fries, and ordered their Cirspy Chicken Fries.

Crispy Chicken Fries (Regular Size, $8.99):


4/5
This consisted of pieces of fried chicken and your choice of sauce: I picked their peanut satay, which was creamy and sweet, with a slight bit of heat; I did find the peanut flavour to be a tad weak however. Once again, there was a generous amount of topping. The chicken was tender and flavourful, although the batter did understandably get a bit soggy from the sauce. Since there was no gravy, the fries were much crispier and quite tasty.

So I’ve quite enjoyed my trysts with my new FWB. Seriously though, this is a really great little shop that I think definitely deserves more recognition. Although I do find their regular size to be a bit on the smaller side, and not quite large enough for a meal. However, they do give a generous amount of topping, and I think that it is still pretty good value for the price. If you happen to be looking for a new FWB (okay, seriously, I’m going to stop), be sure to check this place out!

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 4/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 4/5
Recommendations: Gourmet Fries, Poutines
Frites Granville Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato