Sherman's Food Adventures


Bear has the biggest sweet tooth.  He can munch on dessert after he has already had dessert.  Yes, second dessert!  I guess it consistent with Winnie-the-Pooh and his honey obsession right?  Therefore, he usually influences my savoury-tooth into becoming a sweet-tooth, even if is only for the briefest of moments.  So when we had to meet up, he suggested that we should head over to Trafiq.  Good idea since I've never been to the place and all I've heard is good things about their wonderful cakes.

Bear insisted I try the Chocolate Cake (which I've had before since he brought it to a party once but I totally forgot) and it was one of the best I've had in a long time.  Despite its appearance, the cake was not overly sweet.  Rather the play between the dark chocolate cake and the creamier chocolate cream created layers of discernible flavours.  The best part was the texture as it was moist (but not wet) while the cream was light.  I also gave the Salted Caramel a shot and it was much sweeter than the chocolate cake.  However, it was purposefully sweet with a caramel smokiness accented by the slight bite of salt.  Once again, the cake was airy and light while the cream was even lighter.

For myself, the Zen (yuzu matcha) caught my eye with its beautiful shade of greens.  Unlike many matcha cakes I've tried, this one put the matcha far into the background.  I could definitely taste it, but the bitterness and typically strong flavour gave way to the floral and bright yuzu.  It ate almost like a fruity cake rather than one that had matcha in it.  Nicely balanced and textures were on point once again.

I got a couple of items to go including their Walnut Coffee Cake with butter streusel.  Seemingly standard and not interesting, the coffee cake was super moist and fluffy (while not being wet).  The sweet topping was a bit smoky from the caramelization.  I appreciated the extra internal layer in the middle that balanced out the sweetness.  On the topic of sweet, the Amazing Schnecken was a truly tasty sticky bun.  Although it looked to be off-the-charts sweet, it really wasn't.  Of course it was still sweet, but purposeful.  Again, there was a caramel smokiness and butteriness.  The bun itself was soft and light.

The last item was the Chunky Monkey (croissant bread pudding with chocolate and banana).  As suggested by Bear, I nuked this and it came out perfect.  Custardy and definitely aromatic from the bananas, this was also just sweet enough.  Loved the dark chocolate topping.  However, I can see some people might not enjoy the dense texture.  However, I personally thought most of the items were on point and in fact, some of the best in the city.  Definitely a solid choice for cakes, for a slice or even the whole darn thing.

The Good:
- Attractive and on point cakes
- Purposefully sweet

The Bad:
- Pastries are okay, but cakes are better
- Seating is limited and tight


Whenever I see people raving about something like, "this is the best sushi in Langley" on Google reviews and/or Yelp, I get a bit suspicious.  So how do they quantify this?  Have they gone to every sushi joint in Langley?  Also, what is their experience with Japanese food (ie. the best California roll doesn't constitute the best sushi anywhere...).  So when Nikita and I were deciding on which Japanese restaurant to visit, I suggested Miraku since many have remarked it as the "best in Langley".  Okay, I have only been to a handful of places in Langley, but since Nikita and Bluebeard have lived in Langley forever (and I do mean forever as Nikita was born and raised there), they could give an educated assessment of the place.

We started with the relatively expensive Assorted Tempura for $15.95.  When it hit the table, the price tag seemed reasonable since it consisted of 6 ebi and a good amount of veggies.  It was apparent that they were careful with the batter as it was paper thin, yet crispy and not greasy.  The ebi was buttery with a light snap while the veggies were done right.  In particular, the sweet potato and yam were sliced thinner than usual, hence it was not heavy to eat.  For some odd reason (could it have been my camera?), we were served a complimentary appie in the Tempura Salmon Salad drizzled with sweet mayo and vinaigrette.  This was pretty good as the salmon was still moist and the batter was as good as the previous dish.

Onto some sushi, we had the Spicy Salmon Roll, New House Roll and a few pieces of Nigiri.  Sporting the same spicy dressing, both rolls had a saucy kick to them, but wasn't overpowering.  The sushi rice was chewy with the right moisture level.  I found it mildly seasoned.  They were prepared carefully where the rice was even and minimal while the filling was generous.  As you can see in the picture of the Sushi Combo, the nigiri was appealing in appearance and the ratio of fish-to-rice was on point.  We kept it simple for our order of sashimi with the Sockeye Salmon (not pictured).  It was aesthetically-pleasing where the texture was soft with a bite while the flavour was fresh and sweet.

As per usual, we got an order of the Pork Gyoza for our daughter since she can eat all of it by herself.  These were seared on 2 sides rather than one, which created a crispiness on the outside.  They weren't overly aggressive with the sear which meant the smokiness and caramelization was lacking.  Inside, the filling was soft and moist with a good balance of cabbage and pork.  Rather than ordering it in nigiri form, we had the Unagi Donburi instead. I wasn't a huge fan of the presentation in a shallow bowl, but it ate quite well.  The rice was chewy and texturally on point while the buttery unagi was moderately sauced. I mention this because the rice could've used a bit more flavour from the addition of more sauce.  Also, not sure how the plethora of green onions added to the dish.  So is Miraku the best in Langley?  It is purely subjective, but for us, it was indeed pretty good albeit expensive.

The Good:
- Carefully prepared
- Fish quality was good
- Nice people

The Bad:
- Pricier than the others

My Greek Taverna (Surrey)

For as long as I can remember, I've had My Greek Taverna on the list of to-eat-at-restaurants.  It really didn't matter which location either as they have one each in Coquitlam and Surrey.  Every time I've had a chance to visit the place, something else came up or the place was closed.  So it got forgotten for like the last 8 years (almost the life of the blog).  Finally, I got chance to check the place out despite some varied reports from others.  I happened to be in Surrey, so we headed towards Scott Road at 64th.  On that note, the place isn't the easiest to get access if one was traveling southbound on 120th.

Things got off on a relatively good start with the Calamari.  It was a generous portion of large rings of squid.  It was fried golden brown being lightly crispy and easy on the grease.  The squid itself was tender while retaining an appealing bite and chewiness.  On the side, the tzatziki was airy and garlicky with dill.  However, they were over-zealous with the seasoning as some pieces were stingingly salty.   The same could be said about the Chicken Souvlaki as each nugget of chicken breast tasted purely of salt.  Such a shame as it was grilled almost to perfection with a beautiful charred exterior and being relatively moist for white meat.

As much as it wasn't as salty, the Roast Lamb was not immune to the same issue.  Although it was pleasantly garlicky, it was still overseasoned in our opinion.  We were pretty excited that the portion size which was generous, but ultimately, it was disappointingly dry and chewy.  The desired gelatinous, moist and tender texture was missing.  On the positive side, the rice was one of the best we've ever had being chewy, well-seasoned and nutty.  The best dish of the bunch had to be the Moussaka where it had a delicious and texturally-appealing layer of bechamel.  The meat was moist and well-seasoned while not being salty emitting the classic nutmeg essence.  Overall, this visit to My Greek Taverna could've been good if not for the overuse of salt and the chewiness of the lamb.

The Good:
- Large portions
- Excellent rice
- Except for the lamb, proteins were on point

The Bad:
- Overuse of salt
- Lamb was dry

Kamayan-Style Dinner @ Kulinarya

I'm sure many of you have either seen or tried a seafood boil in Vancouver and/or in the States.  Something about a pile of food and eating with your hands has a certain appeal and wow factor.  Sure, it may not be for everyone and really it can get rather expensive, but the novelty does exist where it is worth trying at least once.  Something along the same lines is the Filipino Kamayan-Style Dinner (or boodle fight).  Multiple dishes of Filipino cuisine are stacked or lined up atop banana leaves for a group to share without the use of any utensils.  A bunch of us recently visited Kulinarya in Coquitlam to experience this feast.

We arrived a bit early, but since they were still setting up, we ended up waiting outside until they were done.  Once inside, we were greeted to a long table lined with banana leaves with the dishes we chose for the meal.  Sitting atop rice (wished it was garlic rice), there was Kaldareta, Crispy Pata, Fried Tamarind Chicken, Fried Bangus, Pinkabet and Lumpia.  Rounding out the mess of food was some fried plantain and fresh mango slices.  On the side, we had the usual vinegar condiment for the crispy pata, plum sauce for the lumpia and banana ketchup for whatever we wanted it with.  Everything was spaced out accordingly so that everyone seated at the table had access to all items.

My favourite item of the bunch was the Crispy Pata as it featured crunchy crackling that had gelatinous fat underneath.  As for the meat, it was tender and fatty with the aromatic flavour from the deep fry.  I enjoyed the tendon and fat attached to the bone as I picked it off to dip into the tasty vinegary sauce.  The Lumpia was also good being crispy (despite sitting for awhile) with a tasty filling.  The Kaldareta was creamy with fatty and tender beef.  Loved scooping up the rice saturated with the coconuty sauce.  I wasn't a huge fan of the chicken though (specifically the white meat) as it was dry. 

Moving onto dessert, we got a large order of Halo Halo complete with the base of evaporatied milk and shaved ice topped with the usual ingredients such as beans, agar jelly, palm seeds and ice cream.  This was pretty typical where it ate well and was a refreshing finish to a heavy meal.  However, this was not the last dessert as I spotted some Ensaymadas behind me on the counter.  I got one to eat in and several to go.  These were money featuring a soft and sweet bun topped with finely shredded cheese.  Surprisingly, I found these 2 desserts the highlight of the meal.  It wasn't as if the rest of the food wasn't any good (except for the chicken).  However, the temperature was a real problem, but then again, they have to set it up.  I guess you can't really win in that regard.

The Good:
- Cool experience
- Relatively reasonable pricing
- Nice people

The Bad:
- Food was rather cold (but logistically cannot be hot either)
- Chicken was dry

La Forêt Bakery and Coffee

Here we go with one of the latest and greatest things to hit Instagram in La Forêt Bakery and Coffee.  Located on Jubilee Ave just South of Metrotown, one would not expect to find such a place here.  Resembling an industrial building on the outside, it was a pleasant surprise to find such an expansive and inviting room.  The place could house a large restaurant, instead the tables were spaced out generously while the ample skylights and foliage created a courtyard-like atmosphere.  Mijune and I met up there recently to check it out.

We decided to try out a range of items including the basic Croissant.  On the outside, it looked pretty legit with the obvious layering and a nice hue.  However, when we took our first bites, this is where it all fell apart.  First of all, the interior was doughy and dense.  It was a bit undercooked where the layers stuck to each other.  Also, there wasn't much of a crunch from the outside while little shattering occurred.  Moreover, it didn't even taste buttery.  Next up, we tried the Double Matcha Cake which resembled an opera cake.  We liked the crunch of the layers as well as the hard white chocolate on top.  The matcha was pretty muted while the layers of buttercream were too aggressive in our opinion.

As mediocre as the croissant was, the Canelé was way worse.  Even before we ate it, the texture was off due to the use of a silicone mold.  The exterior was extremely tough and gummy (supposed to be thick, but not this tough).  Inside, it was one solid piece of custard that had the texture of a jube jube.  If you've ever had this before, this texture was completely wrong.  It is not supposed to be solid and dense.  Rather, it should've been tender with only some resistance.  From that, we moved over to the Mango Tart which was average.  We found the mango to be not ripe enough where it lacked flavour and was tough.  Underneath, the tart shell was somewhere between firm and crumbly.

Lastly, we sampled the Beef Bulgogi Sandwich served on squid ink bread.  Visually, this was stunning with the black bread.  However, it was pretty dry.  On the other hand, the beef bulgogi was on point being tender and well-marinated.  I would've preferred the slivered red peppers to be roasted rather than being raw.  Yes, they provided a crunch, but the flavour didn't go.  Unfortunately for us, La Forêt was a miss despite the gorgeous space and friendly staff.  Of course we didn't try everything, so there could be some redeeming qualities to the place.  With that being said, for the things we did try, they were not that impressive.

The Good:
- Expansive and gorgeous space
- Friendly people

The Bad:
- Sub-par pastries

Chinatown BBQ

Back in my youth, it was a thing to visit Chinatown.  From the torturous circling of Pender and Keefer Streets for that prized parking spot to the constant dodging of loud spitting, it was a part of my childhood.  We would frequent the classics such as Ming's, Hong Kong Cafe, Chiu Chow Restaurant, Park Lok, New Dynasty, the original Hon's, Golden Horse and the recently burned down Daisy Garden.  It used to be 2 storefronts but they shrunk to one as Chinatown began its decline.  Lo and behold, just a few stores down, we find the brand new Chinatown BBQ with the same BBQ master from Daisy Garden.  Clad in modern retro decor that is both clean and somewhat hipster, this is probably the model whereby others can resurrect this historic neighbourhood.

They're keeping it simple with a BBQ-focused menu supplemented by small bites and some Chinese curry.  We were forced to keep it simple since they were out of Roast Pork.  Our first dish was the BBQ Duck on Rice that sported both a leg and some breast meat.  Although the pricing at $10.95 could be considered on the higher end, there was enough duck to justify it.  Furthermore, the duck was on point being succulent and well-brined while not being salty.  The skin was nicely rendered and crispy, especially the leg and back portion.  There could've been a bit more rice for the amount of duck though.  We also got a small plate of the BBQ Pork and by the visuals, it looked pretty legit.  Yes, it was as good as it looked with a caramelized bark where inside, the meat was juicy and fatty.  Flavours were balanced, yet the glaze was not as impactful as the one at HK BBQ Master.

We got a side dish of Jellied Pork Hock and Marinated Jellyfish which was smaller than the usual serving size.  They had run out of jellyfish and provided what was left, so they charged us a couple of bucks less.  Fair deal IMO.  Although sliced a bit thick for my liking, the pork hock was still good where the fat and skin was nicely gelatinized while the meat was tender.  What brought it all together was the tasty garlic vinegar dip (and plenty of it).  Since the jellyfish was the bottom of the barrel, some pieces were quite small.  Texturally, there was good elasticity and the marinade was a good mix of soy, spice and sesame oil.  To get our greens for the meal, we got the Boiled Gai Lan topped with stir fried garlic and ginger in soy.  The gai lan was cooked just right being crunchy and vibrant.  Loved the aromatic and strong garlic flavour.

We had to wait awhile for our last dish since they prepared it to order.  The Soy Sauce Chicken was magnificent being succulent and downright juicy.  There was a nice sweet soy flavour to the chicken that was just right where the skin was tasty and appealing in colour.  Loved how the side ginger and green onion condiment was mostly ginger like some other places.  Despite missing out on the roast pork and curry, we got enough of a taste to say that Chinatown BBQ is legit.  Prices are a few bucks more than the usual, but the place is clean and retro modern.

The Good:
- On point BBQ duck and soy chicken
- Service was actually friendly
- Clean

The Bad:
- A bit more expensive than other similar places
- Need to work on having enough food to last the day

Midam Cafe (Richmond)

Hot off the heals of our meal at Dolpan Korean BBQ, we decided on doing it all over again at nearby Midam Cafe.  Well, it wasn't really right away, more like a month in between meals.  Even though there has been a Midam out in Coquitlam for many years, I've never had a chance to visit the place.  They are known for their house-made rice cakes in addition to several other Korean specialties including dessert.  Once again, I was almost side-swiped by some lady in the parking lot a la Richmond style...  Ah, the sacrifices for eating in the heart of traffic hell...

Onto the food, we ended up ordering the Pan-Fried Fresh Pork Belly served with tofu, egg and stir-fried kimchi.  This was quite good with nicely seared pieces of pork belly that were meaty while still tender.  I liked how the ratio of fat and meat was almost 50/50 which meant each piece was easily edible.  It went well with the usual spicy bean sauce on the side.  I wasn't fond of the stir fried kimchi though as it was more like 90% white onion.  Another enjoyable dish was the Deep Fried Sweet & Spicy Boneless Chicken.  Each nugget was massive in size and lightly breaded.  Beyond the lightly crispy exterior, the meat was succulent and supremely juicy.  I thought the dish was more sweet than spicy though.

Next up was the Stir-Fried Spicy Chicken in the recently popular (in Vancouver that is) UFO grill (with corn, egg and cheese).   As much as it costs $35.00, there was plenty of food in the deep cast iron grill.  The chicken was tender and moist while mildly spicy.  I loved the soft rice cake that had a pleasant chew and mouth feel.  The whole thing went well with a bowl of white rice as there was lots of savoury sweet spiciness.  

For dessert, we shared the classic Rice Cake Waffle drizzled with syrup.  This was warm and soft with only a minor amount of crispiness.  Compared to the ones I had at Saemaul, these were more like the typical rice cake texture (rather than being crunchy).  Our second dessert was the Black Sesame Shaved Ice and there was no mistaking it by appearance and taste.  It was on the sweeter side, but the aroma really came through.  The ice was a bit melted, but was fairly light and fluffy.  So based on the items we had, our experience at Midam was quite good.  They really do a good job with their signature item in savoury and sweet applications.

The Good:
- Rice cake on point in texture
- Fairly diverse options including dessert
- Funky atmosphere

The Bad:
- A little pricey
- Parking lot for this location is insufficient