Guu Otokomae

Eating out with other people has its advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage (in addition to having the company of your friends, of course) is that you get to order more dishes without raising any questions from the staff. The disadvantage is that I’ve got less say over which dishes to order. Such is the case when I visited Guu Otokomae with a couple of my friends over the weekend. This is one of several establishments of the Guu franchise, a popular Japanese Izakaya in Vancouver. We went there during lunch time. In addition to tapas, they offer lunch sets (I cannot remember the exact prices for them, but they’re around $10). After much debate, my friends decided share two lunchsets (“Curry Chicken” and “Grilled Mackerel”) and some tapas (Negitoro Garlic, Spicy Calamari, and Chicken Kara-Age), the latter two of which I pushed for since I do love fried food.

Negitoro Garlic ($8.90):

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Negitoro Garlic

N/A
This consisted of chopped tuna and avocado and is served with garlic baguette. I wasn’t able to eat the tuna since I’m allergic to avocado, but I did have a slice of the baguette, which was crispy and buttery.

Spicy Calamari ($8.90):

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Spicy Calamari

4/5
This was deep fried squid served in a spicy tomato sauce. The tomato sauce had a great flavour, being tangy with just a slight bit of heat. The squid was a bit soggy from the sauce, but that didn’t bother me much.

Chicken Kara-Age ($8.90):

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Chicken Kara-Age

3.5/5
This consisted of pieces of boneless deep-fried chicken, and is served with hot & sour onion sauce and garlic mayo. The chicken was dark meat, and was thus tender and juicy, with a great crispy coating. The meat was a bit underseasoned and bland on its own, but did taste good with the garlic mayo.

“Curry Chicken” Lunch Special (around $10):

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“Curry Chicken” Lunch Special

3.5/5
This consisted of grilled chicken with curry sauce, rice, and salad. The chicken was dark meat, and was thus quite tender and juicy, although underseasoned and bland. The curry was thick and had a nice bit of heat, but I did find it to be a bit too salty.

“Grilled Mackerel” Lunch Special (around $10):


2.5/5
This came with a side of rice and miso soup. The mackerel was tender and well-seasoned. Unfortunately, it did have a rather unpleasant, fishy scent, which turned me off.

In spite of my general reluctance to eat out with others, I had a very good time with my friends at Guu. The food, while not outstanding, is still quite good and the prices are reasonable. The service is also friendly. This is a great place to visit with a couple of buddies to share some tapas.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Spicy Calamari, Chicken Kara-age
Guu Otokomae Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kofta Meatball Kitchen

Being the immature idiot that I am, I really cannot resist a restaurant with a sign like this outside

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I cannot resist a ball joke.

For those of you that don’t know, this is outside Kofta Meatball Kitchen. They are a joint located in Gastown that, of course, serves up meatballs in several different varieties: Pork, Beef & Ricotta, Chicken, and Vegetaball (clever pun). You can get them in a bowl, in a sandwich, or in rabbit food salad. You order at the front counter and they’ll call you once your food’s ready. I had their The Perogie and Mac & Cheese bowls.

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The menu

The Perogie ($11):


3.5/5
This contained Pork Meatballs, macaroni, and potato wedges in a cheese sauce. The meatballs were very tender and juicy, and pretty well seasoned and flavourful. The macaroni were tender, but not mushy; I did find it to be quite underseasoned and bland, however. I did quite enjoy the potato wedges, which were tender and well-seasoned.

Mac & Cheese ($11):


3.5/5
This contained Beef & Ricotta Meatballs and macaroni in a cheese sauce. The meatballs here were a bit tougher/drier compared to the Pork Meatballs, but still relatively tender, and had a nice bouncy texture. It had a nice bit of heat to it; unfortunately, I found it to be quite lacking in salt. Again the noodles were well cooked, but quite underseasoned.

While I wasn’t crazy about the sides from Kofta Meatball Kitchen, their balls were quite juicy and tasty, and a pretty good size too (sorry I can’t resist a childish joke). The portions were fairly generous for the prices and the staff were very friendly. This is a joint that’s definitely worth visiting.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: The Perogie
Kofta Meatball Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cadeaux Bakery

Asides from Trafiq, probably the best bakery in Vancouver is Cadeaux. They are probably best known for their five-layered cakes, which they usually sell in three varieties: London Fog, Carrot Cake, and a rotating chocolate variety. They do also have a large variety of other food as well, including tarts, croissants, cookies, and other pastries. Since it’s the holiday season, they were also offering some seasonal goods, including yule logs. During my visit, I had their Cheddar & Herb Scone, Cinnamon Croissant Swirl, Rum & Eggnog Yulelog Slice, Chocolate Caramel Crunch Cake Slice, and also an Almond Croissant for my mom.

Cheddar & Herb Scone (?):


3.5/5
The scone had a slightly crispy top. It had a great tender and moist interior, and was quite flaky. I could have done with a bit more herb and cheddar flavour, however.

Cinnamon Croissant Swirl (?):


3.5/5
This was filled with a dollop of caramel/toffee in the center. The croissant, while not melt in your mouth, was still tender and had a nice buttery flavour. It was nicely caramelized and had a wonderful crispy texture and great fragrance of cinnamon. The toffee inside was thick and gooey, although it was slightly a bit too burnt for my taste.

Rum & Eggnog Yulelog Slice ($5.50):


2.5/5
This was off of their seasonal holiday menu. The cake was relatively tender and moist. I wasn’t a bit fan of the rum/spice flavour, but I think that’s just a personal preference. Unfortunately, I really disliked the frosting on the exterior as I found it to be quite stiff and greasy, and also bland.

Chocolate Caramel Crunch Cake Slice ($6.50):


4/5
This consisted of layers of chocolate cake sandwiching a caramel mousse and is surrounded by white icing. The cake was quite tender and moist, while the mousse was luscious, with a wonderful caramelized flavour. I did unfortunately find the white icing outside to be a tad too gummy and greasy for my liking.

Almond Croissant ($4.05):

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Almond Croissant

N/A
I didn’t have this; my mom did. She absolutely raved about it though, so it’s probably pretty good.

Having visited Cadeaux in the past and grown to love the bakery, I must say that my latest visit did leave me a tad bit disappointed. Nevertheless, their cakes are definitely fantastic and very reasonably priced for the quality. This is definitely a place that’s worth visiting if you enjoy sweets.

Summary
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Cake Slices
Cadeaux Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Nelson the Seagull

What do you think when you hear the name “Nelson the Seagull”? Personally, I imagine some kind of kids story about a seagull named Nelson. What I certainly do not imagine is a hipster bakery/cafe in Gastown, but that is exactly what that turned out to be. In addition to fresh baked bread and various other treats, they have a small menu of sandwiches, breakfast items, and drinks. I had their Lemon Zest Marzipan Croissant, Carnivore Sandwich, and Jam Wheel.

Lemon Zest Marzipan Croissant ($4.00):


3.5/5
The pastry was quite flaky and tender, with a slightly salty flavour and a nice fragrance of lemon zest. I do wish that there was more marzipan.

Carnivore Sandwich ($12:00):


4/5
This contained roast beef, pesto, cheese, and mustard, and was served on their housemade sourdough bread. It came with a small side of greens, which didn’t seem to be well dressed and was bland, although I did enjoy the strawberries that were mixed in. The bread was crusty on the outside and tender and chewy on the inside, and appears to have been lightly buttered. The filling was very tasty, with the meat being tender and smoky, the cheese creamy and sharp and the pesto lending a nice flavor and fragrance. It is a tad on the salty side, but I quite enjoyed it.

Jam Wheel ($4:00):


3.5/5
The pastry was a tad soggy, but still flaky and had a nice buttery flavour. The jam was not overly sweet, thick, and filled with blueberries. This was simple but tasty.

In spite of the strange name, I quite enjoyed my visit to Nelson the Seagull. While I wasn’t blown away by the food, I thought that it was still pretty solid. The prices are a tad on the higher side, but not unreasonable. This is a spot worth checking out.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 3.5/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: The Carnivore
Nelson the Seagull Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Coffee Bar

While visiting Neslon the Seagull recently (review on that coming up), I happened to pass by a cafe named The Coffee Bar. Seeing the display of pastries at the front counter, I couldn’t resist but stepping in. They have a pretty good selection of baked goods, including cakes, cookies, and pastries, as well as sandwiches and wraps. They were a bit priced on the higher end however, so I decided to just get a Chocolate Cheesecake and Apple Croissant.

Apple Croissant ($4.20):


3/5
The apples were tender, mildly sweet, and had a nice fragrance of cinnamon. The pastry was slightly gummy from the filling and a bit bland, however, and not really like a croissant.

Chocolate Cheesecake ($8.50):


3.5/5
This consisted of chocolate mousse mixed with pieces cheeseacke and walnuts on top of a chocolate-cake like crust. The mousse was quite dense, creamy and chocolatey; I do wish that there could be more cheesecake mixed in. It was quite sweet (I personally didn’t mind), and a bit stale tasting, especialy the walnut on top, which I found to be a bit rancid.

I haven’t tried any drinks at the Coffee Bar, but I have to say, I was a bit disappointed in their food. While not bad, they weren’t particularly good either, and not really worth the price. The staff were fairly friendly however, and they did have a nice space inside, so I guess it wouldn’t be a bad hangout.

Summary:
Food: 3/5
Price: 3/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3/5
Recommendations: N/A
Coffeebar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Purebread

Probably the bakery with the most impressive selection of baked goods is Purebread. Every time I go there, I find myself almost frozen with indecision as I literally want to try everything that they have, but don’t have the wallet (or stomach space) to do so. Recently, following an aforementioned trip to Nemesis Coffee, I decided to drop by the place again. On this occasion, after several minutes of consideration, I got their Lemon Chevre Brownie, Mini Buttermilk Coconut Cake, Salted Caramel Brioche Slice, and Pecan Sticky.

Lemon Chevre Brownie ($4.50):


4/5
This consisted of two layers of brownies sandwiching a thin layer of goat cheese filling. The brownie was quite dense, fudgy and chocolaty. The goat cheese had a nice bit of pungency, although I do wish that it could have more tang.

Mini Buttermilk Coconut Cake ($6.00):


4/5
The cake was dense, but still tender and moist, and was filled with shreded coconuts, which lent a nice fragrance. The icing was sweet, with a slight bit of tang, although a bit greasy.

Salted Caramel Brioche Slice ($6:00):


3.5/5
This was essentially a bread pudding that’s covered in caramel sauce and topped with berries and almonds. The bread itself was thick and dense, but a bit bland and gummy; I did also find parts of the outer edges to be a bit overly charred. I really enjoyed the caramel sauce, which was sweet and thick with a nice caramelized flavour.

Pecan Stickies ($4.75):


3.5/5
This was a pecan sticky bun. I found the bread to be a bit tough. However, the caramel sauce was thick, gooey and tasty, and had a nice fragrance from cinnamon. I also loved the pecans, which were nicely candied and crispy.

I quite enjoyed my latest trip to Purebread; all of their treats have been quite enjoyable. While I’ve noticed a steady increase in their prices (and I also think that they seem to be decreasing the sizes of some of their treats), the current costs are still reasonable. All in all, this is a solid bakery that I’d recommend checking out (and revisting at least several times because they have so many treats); I’m definitely going to be returning again as I’ve still haven’t tried even a fraction of their treats.

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 3.5/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 4/5
Recommendations: Lemon Chevere Brownie, Buttermilk Coconut Loaf
Purebread Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Nemesis Coffee

Honestly, I can’t help but wonder why there are so many cafes/coffee shops around here. Not only are there chains down every block (Starbucks, Blenz, Tim Hortons, Artigiano, JJ Bean etc.), but we’ve also got a ton of independent ones too. It’s not that I’ve got anything against them; I just can’t help but wonder why the demand for them here is so high.

Anyways, one coffee shop that I’m glad to have visited is Nemesis Coffee, which is located on Hastings in Gastown. They have a pretty tidy and spacious interior, and in addition to coffee and drinks, serve up a menu of breakfast/lunch items as well as baked goods. I had tried their Pistachio Kouign Amann, Scone, Classic Chocolate Cashew & Sea Salt Cookie, and Almond Bostock.

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Pastries

Pistachio Kouign Amann ($4.25):


4/5
The outer layer of pastry was crispy, rich and caramelized while the interior was soft and moist. The pistachio paste was mildly sweet and had a nice fragrance.

Scone ($4.25):

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Scone

4/5
The scone appeared to contain some green onions, bacon, and cheese (their flavours appear to vary daily). The interior was tender and quite moist. It had a nice savoury flavour without being too salty.

Classic Chocolate Cashew & Sea Salt Cookie ($3.25):


4/5
The cookie had a nice crispy exterior, while tender and moist on the interior. The chocolate was not waxy and melted in my mouth, and quite well distributed throughout the cookie. The sea salt on top provided a nice bit of salty flavour to contrast the sweetness. I could have done with a bit more cashew.

Almond Bostock ($4.50):


N/A
This consisted of a cake that’s filled with berry preserves and topped with almonds. I actually didn’t have this; my mom did. She really enjoyed it, and said that it was very buttery.

While I’m personally not a big patron of cafes (I’m not particularly keen on shelling out >$3 for a cup of Joe), I am really glad for the existence of Nemesis Coffee. Their pastries have all been superb and worth the prices. This is a place that’s definitely worth a trip.

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 3.5/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 4/5
Recommendations: Pistachio Kouign Amann, Scone, Classic Chocolate Cashew & Sea Salt Cookie, Almond Bostock
Nemesis Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Crab Park Chowdery

Last week, I tried making mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, I completely messed up my milk to potato ratio, which caused it to become a completely soupy mess. So instead, I told my parents that it was totally intentional, and that it was supposed to be potato chowder. Hey, it was still quite tasty though. In fact, I personally think it tasted better than the chowder that I recently had from Crab Park Chowdery. This are a small shop located in Gastown, not far from the Waterfront. They have a limited menu featuring soups and a few sandwiches. You order at the front counter and the staff will bring the food to your table (if you’re eating in). I had their Big Beef Sandwich and a Loaded Baked Potato Soup.

Big Beef Sandwich ($15.95):


4/5
The sandwich is basically a grilled cheese that’s loaded with marinated sirloin and horseradish mayo. The bread is nicely grilled and crispy. There was a huge load of gooey cheese inside, as well as large chunks of beef, which were very tender and juicy. It is quite a messy sandwich, with the filling often falling out, and also very rich: I think that some people might find it to be a bit too heavy.

10 oz Loaded Baked Potato Soup ($7.75 alone, $5.50 with Sandwich):


3/5
This contained potato and bacon soup, and came topped with some onion and tomatoes. The soup was creamy, but not overly rich. Although reasonably well-seasoned, I found the flavours to be a bit one-note and not very interesting. I did also find the price to be a bit steep for the portion.

Although I did not find the soup at Crab Park Chowdery to be outstanding, I did really enjoy their Big Beef Sandwich. I do find their prices to be a bit steep. While I’m not head over heels about this place, I still think this place is worth a visit if you happen to be nearby.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 2.5/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3/5
Recommendations: Big Beef Sandwich
Crab Park Chowdery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Haru Korean Kitchen

There’s got to be a perfect spot between eating something while it’s fresh, crispy and hot, and not burning my tongue. Unfortunately, I still have yet to find it. My latest attempt was at Haru Korean Kitchen, a small but tidy Korean shop located in Gastown. It seems to be quite a popular place; almost the entire restaurant was filled when I visited during lunch time, although fortunately, the shop did clear out a bit after shortly after. I had their Kimchi & Pork Jeon, Crispy & Crunchy Chicken Nuggets, and Jap-Chae Noodle + Beef. Of course, I wanted to tackle the chicken and pancake while they were still fresh and crispy…and of course, ended up burning my tongue in the process =/.

Kimchi & Pork Jeon ($14.50):


3/5
They offer several varieties of pancake; this one contained kimchi and pork. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of kimchi (I think it’s more of an acquired taste), and this really didn’t do anything to change my mind. I will say however, if you do like kimchi, then you’ll probably appreciate this dish as they do put quite a bit of it in the pancake. I couldn’t find any of the pork however. More importantly, I found the pancake to be a bit too soft and soggy; a few pieces were crispy but others were very soft and fell apart when I tried picking them up. This isn’t bad, but it’s not nearly as good as the pancake from a place like So Hyang.

Crispy & Crunchy Chicken Nuggets ($10):


4/5
This came with eight good sized pieces of chicken that’s drizzled with spicy sauce and is garnished with chopped nuts and pumpkin seeds. The chicken was very meaty, tender and juicy, while the batter was quite light and crispy. I did find it to be a tad on the bland side however. The chopped nuts were a very nice touch.

Jap-Chae Noodle + Beef ($13 + $2):


4/5
You have the option of adding meat to your dish for an extra $2; I decided to add beef. The noodles had a nice chewy texture and was flavourful, being sweet without being overly so. I also quite enjoyed the beef, which was tender and had a flavourful sweet marinade.

Although I did experience a few painful burns from trying to eat crispy chicken nuggets, I did enjoy most of the food at Haru Korean Kitchen. Their prices are also fairly reasonable. The service is quite efficient, although the staff is not the most attentive. All in all, while this doesn’t beat out places like So Hyang, it is still worth checking out for some decent Korean food.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: 3/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Crispy & Crunchy Chicken Nuggets, Jap-Chae
Haru Korean Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Deacon’s Corner – Gastown

I love French toast, I love fried chicken, I love pulled pork. Thus, when I heard about the Big Mounties, which consists of three pieces of French toast layered with fried chicken and pulled pork, along with swiss cheese and two eggs for good measure, I just HAD to try it. The dish can be found at Deacon’s Corner, a casual diner specializing in American comfort food. They have two locations, one in Kits and one in Gastown. I’ve visited their Kits location several months ago and decided to check out their Gastown location. In addition to the Big Mounties, I also had their Souther Belly Biscuit.

Big Mounties ($15.50):


4/5
This consisted of three slices of French toast sandwiching a layer of pulled pork and a piece of fried chicken, and was topped with two eggs. I LOVED the French toast: they were soft and fluffy with a wonderful sweet fragrance of cinnamon. The fried chicken was not the greatest: even though it was reasonably juicy for white meat and well-seasoned, the breading was quite soggy. I did really enjoy their pulled pork however, which was very tender and juicy, and had a nice sweetness, which I like in my pulled pork. Personally, I’d go with their Pulled Pork Monte Cristo, which is a similar dish but missing the top layer of fried chicken.

Southern Belly Biscuit ($13.50):


3.5/5
This consisted of bacon, an egg, cheddar cheese, biscuits, and two sausage patties, all topped with gravy and slices of jalapeno peppers, and came with a side of hashbrowns. I found the biscuits themselves to be a bit too soft and soggy, without any discernable flavour; I actually preferred the ones from Jethros a bit more. The gravy was not overly thick/gummy, but was also a bit bland for my taste. The meat was tasty however: the bacon was quite crispy and the sausage patties were tender, juicy, and had a nice spicy flavour. The jalapenos also helped lend more flavour to the dish. I also really enjoyed their hashbrowns, which were shredded and very crispy on the outside and was also quite well-seasoned.

I quite enjoyed the dishes that I had at Deacon’s Corner. While neither are perfect, I absolutely loved their French toast and I quite enjoyed their pulled pork. The food is also very filling and the prices are reasonable. The staff is not the most attentive, but are quite friendly. All in all, this is a place that I’d highly recommend checking out for some tasty, hearty comfort food.

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 4/5
Service: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5
Recommendations: Pulled Pork Monte Cristo, French toast

Deacon's Corner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato