Pie R Squared

The time I’ve eaten at UBC, it was at Pie R Squared. Back then, they were located in the old SUB. The shop has now moved over to the new Nest. They serve up various pizzas by the slice or whole, pastas, calzones and various drinks. During my recent revisit, I had their combo 2, which consists of 2 slices of pizza and a pop of your choice. I had their Pulled Pork Pizza and BBQ Chicken Pizza.

Combo 2: 2 slices of pizza + 1 pop ($6.50):

Pulled Pork Pizza:


3.5/5
I have to say from the get-go, I was quite impressed by the crust on the pizza. In spite of having sitten under heat lamps, it remained quite crispy while the edges had a nice, chewy texture. The toppings were flavourful, with the pulled pork being tender with a slightly sweet and tangy flavour.

BBQ Chicken Pizza:


3/5
The crust here was also crispy, although I do find the edges to be a bit too hard and burnt in this case. The topping here was a bit on the bland side, and there was also a lack of chicken. It was still fairly tasty though.

Pie R Squared hasn’t changed much over the years. Their pizzas are fairly average; nothing outstanding but still tasty. Their prices are reasonable. There are definitely better choices available at UBC, but this isn’t bad in a pinch.

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

Tatsu Japanese Bistro

To keep this one short, my mom’s birthday has arrived and she specifically told me that she wanted to eat sushi rolls, the fancy kind with seafood and avocado (which I’m actually allergic to, but who cares, I’m not a huge fan of sushi anyways). Being a completely home-bound recluse who doesn’t go more than 5 blocks out of the house, I had to resort to ordering takeout. I decided to try out Tatsu Japanese Bistro, which is a Japanese place located on Commercial Drive. I ordered three of their special sushi rolls: Prosciutto, Bull’s, and Lobster. I also got some food for myself, including their Kushiyaki Platter, Teriyaki Chicken, and Loco Moco.

Kushiyaki Platter, 6 pcs ($13.95):

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Kushiyaki Platter, 6 pcs

3.5/5
This came with two skewers each of chicken, shrimp, and bacon scallop. My favourite was actually the chicken, which was tender, juicy, and very flavourful. The shrimp was a bit on the bland side. The bacon had a nice smoky flavour, although the scallop was (as expected), quite small.

Teriyaki Chicken ($9.95):

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Teriyaki Chicken

3.5/5
I was a bit disappointed to see that the chicken didn’t come with any skin. The meat was still tasty however, being tender and juicy, with a nice smoky grilled flavour. It was a tad on the bland side however

Loco Moco ($9.95):

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Loco Moco

3.5/5
This consisted of either a beef or pork patty (I picked pork) on rice, and is served with rice, a fried egg, veggies, and sauce. The patty was quite tender and juicy, and had a nice flavour. The egg was slightly runny in the middle. I did find the sauce to be a tad tangy however.

Prosciutto Special Roll ($11.50):

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Prosciutto, Lobster, and Bull’s Special Roll

N/A
This came with mango, avocado, cucumber, cream cheese and prosciutto. I didn’t have this since I’m allergic to avocado; my mom quite enjoyed it though (she loves prosciutto).

Bull’s Special Roll ($11.95):
N/A
This came with ebi tempura, teriyaki beef, crab, cucumber, lettuce, and tempura crisps. I actually wanted to try this roll, but unfortunately it does come also with avocado (though not listed in the description). But my mom really enjoyed it; this was actually her favourite of the three rolls.

Lobster Special Roll ($15.95):
N/A
This came with barbecue lobster meat, asparagus, avocado and cucumber. Again, I wasn’t able to try this roll, but this was actually my mom’s least favourite of the three. The lobster meat that they give you is apparently from the claw, which most people don’t like.

Although I haven’t visited Tatsu, the food that I had received from delivery was quite solid. Their prices were also fairly reasonable. All in all, a decent place for some Japanese fare.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Kushiyaki Platter, Bull’s Special Roll
Tatsu Japanese Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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.

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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