Agora Cafe

While I keep on emphasizing on the fact that I’m quite the meat eater, but I don’t mind having some vegetarian cuisine every now and again. My most recent dallying into the world of vegetarism is at Agora Cafe. They are a spot tucked at the back of the Orchard Commons student residence on UBC. They’re open during the academic year (September to April), where they offer a small menu of sandwiches, lunch items, and baked goods, most of it appearing to be vegetarian and/or vegan. During my visit there, I had an Agora Sandwich and Granola Bar.

Agora Sandwich ($3.75):


3/5
This is filled with cheese, hummus, and greens, and comes on your choice of bread, I went with white. The bread on the sandwich was nicely toasted and crispy. I found the filling of the hummus and sandwich to be quite salty however.

Granola Bar ($1.25):


3/5
The granola bar was a bit too hard and crunchy for my taste, but did have a nice sweet flavour and was well-toasted. There was a good amount of chocolate chips, dried fruits and nuts mixed inside.

I enjoyed my visit go Agora Cafe. The food was fine, though not great; the prices are very affordable, however. This is definitely a great choice for an affordable campus meal.

Summary:
Food: 3/5
Price: 5/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 4/5
Recommendations: Sandwich, Granola Bar
Agora Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

The Hungry Nomad

I work at the Michael Smith Laboratories at UBC, and every time I go out the building, I see the Hungry Nomad. They are a food truck with a small menu of sandwiches and fries. I finally broke down recently and decided to try them out. I had their Classic Grilled Cheese Sandwich (which I added pulled pork to for an extra $3).

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Menu

Classic Grilled Cheese Sandwich + Pulled Pork ($12 + $3):


4/5
This came with a side of fries and a slice of pickle. The bread was perfectly toasted, and was buttery and crispy on the outside. There was a good amount of cheese and pulled pork, which had a great sweet and savoury flavour. I did find the meat to be a bit dry, however. The fries were also very good, and were very crispy and fresh.

I was quite blown away by the food at the Hungry Nomad; the sandwich was fantastic and the fries were very tasty. The price was a bit on the higher side, but I think that it’s worth it for the food. This is definitely a good lunch option on campus.

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 3.5/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Grilled Cheese Sandwich, Fries
The Hungry Nomad 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

A&W – UBC

There was once a graduate student (who has graduated the previous year) in our lab who, for a couple of years, would always eat A&W teen burgers for lunch. Apparently, he has done some calculations and determined that the teen burgers at A&W gives the best calories per dollar out of all the fast food chains. Now I haven’t checked the calculations myself (personally, I’d assume that McDonals would have the better deal), but I was quite a big fan of A&W in highschool: my favourite things to get were their teen burgers and onion rings. Having not visited this place for years, I decided to check out the UBC location recently after finding that the international food court was completely filled and had no seats. I had a Teen Burger with Root Beer & Onion Rings.

Teen Burger + Root Beer & Onion Rings ($6.49 + $5.40):


3/5
The burger contained a patty, cheddar cheese, bacon, and various veggies. The patty was relatively juicy and flavourful. I couldn’t reallly get much of the bacon or cheese. It was also on the smaller side (I’m not sure, but I think that they might have reduced the size over the years). The onion rings were kind of lukewarm, but still had a good crispiness and was not overly battered. I quite enjoyed the root beer (the only type of beer that I enjoy).

I don’t know if they have changed their burgers or if my memories were flawed, but I found the teen burger to be considerably smaller than I remembered and quite skimpy on the bacon and cheese. The prices were also a bit steep for a fast food chain (I don’t know how our former grad student did the calculations but I’m 100% sure now that McDonalds have the better calorie per dollar value). Overall, I do feel a bit disappointed by my revisit, but it isn’t a bad spot in a pinch.

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

Running Chicken

Not too long ago I attended a Christmas dinner party with my lab mates. One of them was Korean and brought homemade fried chicken to the dinner, and someone brought up Running Chicken, which was a joint at UBC above the International Food Court that serves up Korean style fried chicken. Even though my colleagues didn’t really give the place glowing reviews, I decided to check it out anyways. In addition to the aforementioned chicken, which they offer in several flavours (plain, passion, honey soy, spring) they have a pretty good menu of popular Korean dishes. I had their Carbonara Tteokpokki with Cheese, Deep Fried Dumplings, and Half & Half (Passion and Honey Soy) fried chicken.

Carbonara Tteokpokki with Cheese ($9 + $1.50):


3.5/5
This consisted of rice cakes in a cream sauce with bacon, onions, and a few pieces of broccoli, as well as cheese for an extra $1.5. I really enjoyed the rice cakes, which had a great chewy texture. The sauce was rich and creamy, albeit a tad watery. It was oddly sweet however; I would have preferred the dish to be more savoury.

Deep Fried Dumplings, 5 pc ($6):


3/5
The dumplings were filled with a mixture of pork and chive. The skins on the exterior were quite crispy. The chive provided a nice fragrance. Unfortunately, I did find the pork to be a bit bland and one note.

Half & Half, Passion and Honey Soy ($24):


3.5/5
The chicken pieces were tender, juicy, and meaty. I quite enjoyed the Passion, which was flavourful and had a great heat. The Soy was a bit less exciting in comparison, although it was still flavourful. The main problem I had with the chicken, however, was that it was not crispy. In fact, if I wasn’t told that it was supposed to be fried chicken, I probably would have thought that it was stir fried. The whole portion was quite generous, and is probably good to share between 3-4 people (I had it all to myself though).

So I guess my colleagues were right in their review of Running Chicken: the food there were just mostly mediocre. The prices were fairly reasonable, and the staff I encountered were friendly. This isn’t a place that I’d necessarily recommend, but if you’re at UBC it is a decent option for some Korean food.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Passion Fried Chicken, Carbonara Tteokpokki
Running Chicken 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

The Boulevard Coffee Roasting

I’ve taken up drinking coffee since beginning grad school. I only drink it for the caffeine however, and not for any taste. I really can’t appreciate a good cup of coffee: I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between something from a fancy artisinal shop and something from McDonalds (my boss on the other hand…). Thus, I’ve never been particularly interested in visiting Boulevard Coffee, a coffee shop at UBC that apparently roasts their own coffee beans. However, they do offer food in addition to their coffees, and recently, while running late with experiments, I decided to drop by the place for something to eat. I had their Chicken Bacon Ranch and Cranberry Pesto Prosciutto sandwiches. Their sandwiches are all premade and reheated at your request.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Sandwich ($9.05):


3/5
This consisted of chicken breast, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, and ranch dressing in between apple bread. I personally didn’t care too much for the bread: I found it to be a little too soft and didn’t hold the fillings well. The filling was also a bit scarce: I didn’t really get much chicken or bacon. I did enjoy the ranch dressing however.

Cranberry Pesto Prosciutto ($9.05):


4/5
This contained prosciutto, mozzarella, cranberries, pesto and greens on a French baguette. I much preferred the bread here, which was nice and crispy, and held the fillings well. The sandwich was very flavourful from the pesto and the prosciutto, which is given in a fairly generous amount. It does get a tad salty, but I still really enjoyed it.

Although I haven’t tried any of the coffees, the food at Boulevard Coffee Roasters is decent. While I was underwhelmed by their Chicken Bacon Ranch, I did quite enjoy tehir Cranberry Pesto Prosciutto. I do find their prices to be a tad high compared to other spots: the sandwiches were relatively small and not overly filling. This won’t be my favourite spot at UBC for food, but it’s still worth a visit.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 3.5/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Cranberry Pesto Prosciutto

The Boulevard Coffee Roasting Co. 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