Thursday, May 30, 2013

Vancouver: Felicos

o-o-opa richmond-style

 When in Richmond, I usually go to the same places, and only these places, then I get the heck outta dodge:

  1. Daiso
  2. Ikea
  3. T&T or H Mart
  4. Sushi House
  5. Jang mo jib  – As of February 2013 – I no longer go. Service sucked. Food sucked. Ever wonder how to tell if a Korean restaurant is sh*t?  Easy. There are only Chinese people eating there – like exclusively.

Um ya, that’s my Richmond repertoire. I am willing to get down with other things. The trick is getting me there. Momma GG likes to meet in Richmond – it’s accessible for both of us. So I begrudgingly showed up after work.  Happy I did, because I found a replacement for #5 up there. I didn't do it on my own co-worker Naka suggested it. Naka did good.

Welcome to the club Felicos

Just a few blocks from Lansdowne station there’s a standalone Mediterranean restaurant. The interior was memorable for its art deco feel and high ceilings with skylights.  Very Momma GG friendly. A meld of new age class and traditional comfort. I MUST mentioned their doors. Yes, their doors. Their front doors are beautiful. Strikingly so. I want them in my home. If I ever buy a home. But that may be unlikely as I have commitment issues. I just went off on a tangent...

Felicos serves the contemporary Greek food we have come to expect, in a rather cute, more upscale venue. All for about a $5 surplus.  
Sauteed seafood ($19)
A nice serving of prawns, scallops, halibut, and salmon in a creamy white wine mushroom sauce
REALLY good - the sauce was not too creamy - juuuuust right

Chicken souvlaki ($16)
Meat, juicy pieces served with staziki, rice pilaf, roasted potatoes and salad
See that potato?  Really good...
AAA Beef souvlaki special ($17)
Damn's those potatoes again.
Was not happy about the lack of tzatziki on my plate, but I simply took Momma GG's
Momma GG doesn't like tzatziki? Wth mom...
She does love greek salad though, which is why I gave her mine too:
So flavourful - and fantastic feta.
This is no Stephos. It’s family-owned but with warm and welcoming service and well-seasoned, well-made dishes with the traditional elements of Greece: olive oil, garlic, cheese…

Bottom line? We’d all pay the extra $5 per dish.
Felicos on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Vancouver: Kaya Malay Bistro


I had no idea there were so many Malaysian restaurants in Vancouver. I don't think I ever went to one in Toronto. Ever.

Come to think of it, the first time I had it was with the BFF in Sydney. It was spectacular. Guessing nothing in Canada will come close, but at least I know it's not for lack of quantity.

Yes, yes, Banana Leaf is a favourite among native Westcoasters. It's good. Tropika is on my list. If Aerie loves it, I'm pretty sure it will likely come out on top as my favourite. I'll let you know.

I hit Kaya Malay for lunch yesterday with Riri and Beatrice, two co-workers. Yes, co-workers. See everybody, I play well with others. I'll be frank, it has been different working in such a big office. The inherent nature of that means navigating office dynamics, relationships and politics. But I think I'm lucky - my office is really well balanced.

The three of us hit Kaya because Riri likes that there's no line and it's less crowded than Banana. And in my opinion - which is why you're here right - I liked it better. 

cheap + cheerful
Kaya's roti is also better because it's not as soggy, but I think the curry is better at Banana.

The laksa was better too, although a slightly smaller portion.

Bring on the next one. I'm gonna eat malay to the top.

Kaya Malay Bistro on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 17, 2013

Vancouver: Negativity

sorry, we're open

It seems I have a quandry. It's the first time I've had this problem. I hear it's common and it's not a big deal.

This is the first time I have more negative opinions than positive ones.  What is up Vancouver?

Personally, I don't want to start posting bad reviews on my blog. I mean there's only so many ways I can tell you I thought it was crap. 

But seeing as I keep having bad nights out and money wasted, I have been pushing some of my negativity on Yelp and Urbanspoon. I have to admit - I kind of like clicking the "thumbs down" button on Urbanspoon.

Vancouver: Joey

vancity passion
:Various, Burrard:

Vancouver chain restaurants have become Toronto's local watering holes. You go to hunt, not to eat. But in their natural element, these chain restaurants continue to thrive - a perfect balance of after work fun but always against a backdrop of great eats.

When I was still in Toronto I shared with you how I felt about Cactus Club.  Yes, I still love it, but not as much, especially not after Joey. I'm pretty sure Vancity is the only place where you can love chain restaurants and not fall off your high horse.

After all this time, I finally tried Joey.  I likely avoided it on name alone. I loved a Joey once. A long time, another life ago.

My experience at Joey was guided by Totoro. She has great taste, knows food, and is oodles upon noodles of fun. I don't see Totoro often, but love when I do.

The service is spectacular. It really is. They say as much on their site, and they practice what they preach. I've heard executive chef Chris Mills is intensely passionate about what he does.  The food is a testament to that. No one mentioned how cute he is...but he is isn't he?

I can't eloquently describe the menu, so I won't try. There's an obvious Asian influence, but the food crosses all sorts of demarcation lines without being predictablyfusion. If you know anything about food, you'd know this is not an easy task - especially not for a big restaurant group. Yet Joey pulls it off.

Two of the dishes deserve to be praised. When creativity drives a great dish and melds flavours and textures - it really is phenomenal:

Sushi cones - seriously?
Beautiful, innovative, elegant, delicious
Crispy mashed potatoes (off-menu order of a side)
Unique, unexpected, and delicious
Totoro and I also shared:

Ahi tuna tacos
Not my favourite. They were awkward to eat and I don't like deep fried wontons.
 I love that 
Totoro agrees - we can't both be wrong. Still pretty. 
Lettuce wraps
Crisp fresh lettuce cups (bonus points for attention to detail - these cups were perfectly cut) and a generous serving of shrimp-noodle goodness
We also had a side of fries. Because I always have to have french fries. Joey's fries? Great.

And one must always end on a sweet note:

Have mercy
I f*cking love doughnuts. These remind me of the amazing plump lemon doughnuts I had in Sydney at Rockpool. Just as delicious. Lemon curd mascarpone creme and fried dough. 

Lively, great decor, fantastic service, and above all - affordable and consistent.

I love a new Joey. He's nothing like the first; this Joey's inventive, ambitious, and quite perfect.

Joey Burrard on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Vancouver: Sabai Thai Spa

Report on Sabai Thai Spa


Location: Coal Harbour
Interior: Natural comfort - wood, bamboo, earthy tones
Ideally For: A place to take yourself, your girls, and your mom

Service: Manicure 
Price: $49
Duration: 1 hour
Details: File, cuticle care, buff, exfoliation, lotion massage, and polish application.
Massage: Great. About 5 minutes...likely the longest I've had for a mani, and great pressure.
Bonus. The Groupon special is available on It's also available directly from Sabai Thai. 1.5 hours (1 hour massage and half-hour facial) for $109 plus tax (regular price $277).
Comments: Service REALLY is wonderful. Fellow Yelpers have been raving about it, and most of them went with Groupons. Anyone who shops and primps and pampers as much as I do, knows there a minutiae of shame that comes with buying and using these deals. There shouldn't be. Yet there is. I think it has a lot to do with the fact we're treated so poorly when we hand them over. It's much like using Priceline to book a hotel. Everyone wants to save a few bucks when they can, and there are options that let us. Sadly, it costs a bruised ego. 

Not at Sabai Thai. 

99% of their staff were lovely. The other 1%? Well that just my own neuroses. Something about them irked me - could have been their lack of professionalism, or their talk-to-much approach.

Sadly, my manicure did not last. It chipped on day 2. That's where they lost points. Granted, Sparitual isn't known for its longevity. It may have something to do with the fact is organic and vegan. Sometimes added chemicals have their upside.

Either way, I liked it enough to go back. This time I'm going to try their thai massage. It's expensive, but if service and quality remain consistent - they'll become a favourite monthly treat.

It's not a luxurious oasis, but it is a cute little day spa without the pretentious pompous nonsense.

Products: Eminence for facials and Sparitual for hands and feet.

Longevity: Poor

Final Grade: B

Click HERE for Grading System.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Vancouver: DD Mau

mau down

I miss BMB, mostly their kimchi poutine – as delicious as it sounds funky. I hear they opened a second location in Toronto.  Not surprising.  There are more mouths to feed than Queen West can handle...

In my six or so months here, I've discovered that Vancouver is void of 'cheap and cheerful' and 'everyday ethnic'. And then I found DDMau. I liked it so much I had it two days in a row.

If DDMau used the standard banh mi, I would probably LOVE it. But they use their own baguette. It's good but not as good as the super perfect bread...ThatI could eat for days.

Their filling is a perfect grouping of everything I love about viet subs – herby, sweet and sour, meaty and crunchy…

I recommend the lemongrass chicken. Don’t be swayed by the fancy specials. Sometimes the ordinary is extraordinary.

The bun - cold rice vermicelli - is also good...but an afterthought.

DD Mau's ice coffee however – RIP OFF. A tiny cup is $3.50 and mine wasn’t even full. The girl gave me a half-full cup. I ordered two. They were both half-full. That I have zero tolerance for. They lost a star rating on Yelp for it.

DD Mau on Urbanspoon

Vancouver: Pizzeria Farina

alarmingly delicious

Disclaimer: The fire alarm rang intermittently for a the first quarter of my visit.  No idea why. It was loud and annoying, until I downed my first glass of wine...then it was just loud.

Seating is sparse with high metal bar chairs, but it was surprisingly comfortable – Momma GG thought so too which means it's senior friendly. Yes, Momma GG knows I call her a "senior".  She calls herself a "senior".

Farina's pizza is fabulous - very similar to Serious Pie in Seattle. The bottom crust was a little soggy in the centre but not enough to detract from the pizza.

They have a handful of tasty options and a daily special to boot.

The menu:

Our choices:

Daily special

The funghi was better than the special. The special was a tad salty, and I'm convinced it had more to do with the bitterness of the kale than the prosciutto, but my dinner guests disagreed. Either way all three of us liked funghi the best.

We polished off two pizzas. It’s a great place for an easy dinner. And in my books, one of the better pizza places in west coast Canada.
Casual, friendly, and simple. 

Housemade oils to boot. If you buy them at $10 I will shake my head at you. Why buy when you can easily DIY?!? Here, here, and here.
Pizzeria Farina on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Vancouver: Hawksworth


My BFF and crew are a sophisticated bunch. They like fine dining and have discernable taste.  They also bring out my most materialistic side, which, since moving to Van, has taken a back seat to my need to adapt to the tree hugging, kale munching, lulu lemon lounging…

I picked Hawksworth for dinner after it came highly recommended from Chloe's ma and pa. Those two know their food. Reservations were easy – one email and a telephone call later I had a table. They were, at all times, professional and courteous. Sidebar: whoever screens, hires and then trains the staff should really share his wisdom.
Hawksworth faces the backend of the Art Gallery and is on the lower level of the elegant Hotel Georgia. If context is any indicator, this tells you a lot about the restaurant – stylish, refined and heaps of character. 
In the interest of full disclosure, I should let you know if there was anything unclassy about the restaurant, it was me and my people. But hey, it was day 3 of a 5 day bender, and we started drinking at Reflections before our 8:30 reservation and the liquor flowed all throughout dinner. Tip: Visit Reflections - beautiful terrace...amazing drinks.

Our server was fantastic – attentive and polite. Even though he likely thought us sloppy, he didn’t let it show or detract from how well he took care of us.

Nine guests, six courses:
halibut ceviche grapefruit, avocado, jalapeño
Fresh and zesty.

pacific uni burrata, asparagus, nori, orange
Creatively delicious.
I've never had asparagus wrapped in fried nori and I LOVED that too.
spring legume risotto parmesan supplement of preserved perigord black truffle ($)
Simple. What I imagine spring tastes like.
kauai prawn house made cotechino, potato, shellfish broth
Sexy shellfish
Bonus points for the deep fried heads.
bacon wrapped rabbit loin leg meat croquette, apricot, violet mustard, jus
Quite beautiful, isn't it.

yogurt panna cotta mango, garam masala
Traditional panna cotta with an unconventional twist.

I haven't had a dining experience like this since Toronto. Simply put: smart delicious contemporary food, creatively plated and lovingly served in an elegant and beautiful restaurant. The seasonal six-course tasting menu is $84 ($94 if you add black truffles, which I did…because much like foie gras, I find it hard to say no to contemptuous obnoxiously expensive food...especially fungus), $134 with wine pairing. Before you balk at the price, let me give you some context. Average cost of fine dining in Toronto is $130 without wine and you leave hungry. $84 and filling, sounds like a deal.

Hawksworth is a little more appealing now isn’t it? Regardless, for me it has a special place. It was my first Vancouver fabulous fine food find. FFFF-ing awesome, and so worth it. 
Hawksworth on Urbanspoon