Sherman's Food Adventures: February 2009

Marble Slab Creamery

After some Japanese food (again, I seem to eat a lot of that), I wondered if anyone wanted dessert. I was considering going down to Save On or Safeway to pick up some pie. But Nikita (that's what I'll call her from now on) suggested I go to Marble Slab which was nearby. Ah yes, I've been to Coquitlam Marble Slab since it's the closest location to my house. There are quite a few people who will argue that the copycat (I've learned recently), Coldstone Creamery, is better. Well, even if it is, we don't have Coldstone up here in Canada.

You may ask what exactly is Marble Slab. Well, it is essentially an ice cream parlour with freezing cold slabs of marble where they mix in goodies with your ice cream. Think of it as a Blizzard or McFlurry, but Marble Slab uses hard ice cream instead of soft serve. Moreover, you have a choice of several flavours of ice cream other than plain vanilla. The cold slabs of marble ensure that your ice cream doesn't melt into a gooey mess while the mixing takes place. To my surprise, the staff at this location of Marble Slab were not only inviting me to take pictures, they knew exactly what a blog was and asked about it! These employees are in the know!

I ordered a couple of items: a sundae, vanilla ice cream with apple pie pieces and a double dark chocolate ice cream with Skor Bar. The staff were very friendly and had my order completed before I even had a chance to finish taking all of my pictures. The staff made sure I had utensils for my order and lids as well. So how does it taste? Well, the ice cream at Marble Slab is pretty good, it's creamy and has plenty of flavour. However, if you start adding goodies to the ice cream, it can get rather sweet, but I guess you wouldn't be getting Marble Slab if you didn't want sweet anyways. One possible negative of Marble Slab is that it can get pricey. One order of ice cream with one mixin' (that's one item), is $4.95. You have a choice of it being served in a cup or a waffle cone. This is not incredibly expensive, but knowing that gourmet gelato at places like Vivo, Amato and La Casa cost less, it may not be worth it for ice cream "connoisseurs". However, I personally like it. It's a fun, tasty treat, as long as you don't do it too often.

The Good:
- It's fun
- It's sweet and sinful
- Your kids will love you for it

The Bad:
- A bit pricey
- It's sweet and sinful

Marble Slab Creamery
Various Locations
www.marbleslab.com

Marble Slab Creamery on Urbanspoon

Simon Sushi

Nikita, who introduced me to Bombay Palki (now Sohi's) invited us over to her place in Langley for some sushi. There is this new Japanese restaurant that opened up next to their subdivision called Simon Sushi. My first thought was: Simon Sushi? Sounds like someone's name or "Simon Says". But I know that she and her hubby have good taste, so I trust their judgment. So, off we go to Langley! We head over to pickup our food at Simon Sushi and my first thoughts are: where are the other stores? Simon Sushi sits in a little mall all by itself with very few tenants around it. Upon entering the restaurant, I was pleasantly surprised by the modern decor and the cleanliness of the place.

It was a bit comical to me that all the staff wore "Simon Sushi" apparel in bright colours, particularly the lime green caps. The staff there seem very friendly, they didn't even stare at me when I began snapping pictures. I guess they figured I was a Japanese tourist? Anyways, we headed back home with our food which consisted of: Salmon Sashimi, Crunch Avocado Roll, Alaska Roll, Spicy Salmon Roll, and Dragon Roll.

The generous slices of Salmon Sashimi were very fresh. The same could be said about all the other rolls as well. The Crunch (have no idea why it's not called Crunchy) Avocado Roll was good, it had tempura bits rolled on the outside. This gave a nice contrast in texture to the soft avocado. The Alaska Roll was tasty; however it was very odd. First, the salmon was on the outside and then it was topped with something that resembled miso/ginger dressing, which is usually found on Japanese green salad.

The Spicy Salmon Roll was quite spicy, if you don't like heat, don't eat this one. Lastly, we had a specialty roll, the Dragon Roll. The roll was pretty good; however, much like the other rolls, it was smaller than expected. The Dragon Roll costs $9.95 and I didn't think it looked like a $9.95 roll. Although it was quite tasty, I think the same roll at Tomoya is 1/2 larger for the same price. One of the reasons the rolls seem smaller is that Simon Sushi, unlike Samurai Sushi House, does not use a lot of rice on the outside of the rolls. But, I do think they could use a bit more rice just to give the rolls a bit more substance. With that being said, I still think Simon Sushi is a solid choice for Japanese food out in Langley.

The Good:
- Food tastes good
- Friendly staff
- Inviting dining room

The Bad:
- Prices are a tad high
- The rolls are a bit small

Simon Sushi
#5 - 20178 96th Avenue
Langely, B.C.
604-888-5055

Business Hours:
11:30am - 3:00pm, 4:00pm - 8:30pm (Mon - Sat)

Simon Sushi on Urbanspoon

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Jane`s

Okay, let's get this out of the way first. Jane's is a dive. Upon entering the place, we were greeted with wood paneling, red vinyl booths and an array of mismatched chairs with duct tape on them. Ah yes, my youth, circa 1970's - 1980's. However, don't let the retro decor scare you, there is something more to this. Jane's is a Chinese-Canadian food restaurant. That designation alone would send most people running for the hills, since this type of restaurant (especially in the GVRD) is slowly becoming extinct.

Well, I'm not here to talk about the quasi-Chinese food at Jane's. In fact, Viv and I were not impressed with the fried noodles that the next table ordered. We came to Jane's to have their $3.50 breakfast. Similar to other cheap breakfast places such as Bon's Off Broadway and Joe's Grill, the breakfast is cheap, but never to be confused with other places such as White Spot, IHOP and Denny's. However, some people might even argue that the breakfasts at the aforementioned places are not very good.

Anyways, what does $3.50 get you at Janes? Well, you get 2 eggs, a choice of 3 bacon strips, 3 sausages or a ham steak, with home fried potatoes and toast. Honestly, that's a lot of food for $3.50. For the kiddies, we ordered the 2 pancakes with scrambled eggs and a ham steak ($5.95). Of course for $3.50, there will be some trade offs. First, although the pancakes were extremely large, they were rubbery. Second, the scrambled eggs were not really scrambled, they were more like fried scrambled eggs (a la Hong Kong cafe-style). But really... for $3.50, I ain't gonna care! The service is quite friendly and efficient. Looks like a family-run operation. To sum it up, despite the 1970's retro decor (it's probably the same decor from then) and the issues with some food items, in the words of Snake, "When you can pay for a meal with loose change, that's a plus."

The Good:
- Cheap breakfast
- Ample portions
- Friendly staff

The Bad:
- It's a dive
- Not sure about the Chinese-Canadian food

Jane's
4217 Hastings Street
Burnaby, B.C.
604-293-1343

Business Hours:
9:00am - 9:30pm (7 days a week)

Jane's on Urbanspoon

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Anastasia

KDee had been bugging me for awhile to try out Anastasia Steak & Seafood out on 72nd near King George Hwy. One problem is that I live nowhere near there. However, I saw an opportunity tonight as I was going to attend my school's play in North Delta. So Viv and I trek out to Anastasia in Friday rush hour traffic. Upon entering Anastasia, we were greeted to a decor that was stuck in the 1980's, complete with big flower arrangements. By no means was it uninviting, we were just amused by it. Looking around the restaurant, we were surprised by the amount of seniors in the restaurant. I suddenly felt such much younger!

Since Anastasia is a steak and seafood restaurant, I choose to have Prime Rib and Viv chose the Chicken Souvlaki. First, we started off with the Calamari. It came hot, but curiously not crunchy. This could be attributed to the fact the rings of squid were quite large; thus making it harder to fry. Actually, I prefer larger rings of squid, so that didn't really bother me. My meal came with a choice of soup or salad, and I chose the clam chowder. It was cream-based and I liked it. However, it reminded me of the clam chowders I've had in Hong Kong-style cafes in the past. These type of clam chowders are exemplified by starchy milkiness rather than creaminess.

My prime rib was done perfectly (medium rare) and it came with the bone. This is one of the few times I have received the rib still attached to the meat. For me this was a bonus, since I really enjoy the meat around the rib itself. The baked potato that came with the prime rib was also done very well; however the vegetables were definitely a miss. They were spongy, a clear indication that they were frozen vegetables. For $21, I think one would expect fresh vegetables. Another miss was the garlic bread, it looked like a leftover pontoon from the Exxon Valdez oil spill. It was totally soaked in butter.

Viv had issues with the Souvlaki. The chicken itself was tender (except for the end pieces), but it was quite salty. The bed of rice was a bit cold and hard. However, the most disappointing part of the dish was the Greek Salad. For reasons unknown, there was basalmic vinegar in it. There shouldn't be balasmic vinegar in Greek salad (although there are versions with it), it stains the vegetables and cheese. In addition it overpowers the flavours. The acid should be only lemon juice. Also, the feta cheese (if it was feta cheese) consisted of small shavings on top of the salad. The feta cheese should have been in cubes or crumbled on top of the salad. Now, I'm not even sure how they were able to shave the cheese. Then, on top of the whole mess was dried oregano. It was not mixed into the salad, it was just dumped on top. I could say that this was the worst and the least authentic Greek salad we've ever seen.

So it's really hard to say how the food is at Anastasia from only trying 2 dishes and an appetizer. We saw the table beside us have the Seafood Dinner for 2 and it looked fabulous, with a bounty of seafood on a big platter. I'm sure there are some good dishes mixed with some bad dishes as Anastasia. This is where I have a concern. The prices at Anastasia are a bit pricey. I have no problem with that; however, the food quality as a whole must reflect those prices. For the 3 items we ordered, the food quality as a whole did not justify the price. I am not saying the food was terrible. In fact, my prime rib was excellent, but, for the price I paid, I could've eaten at the Keg and would have gotten fresh vegetables. As for the service, I would say that was the highlight of the evening. It was efficient, friendly and professional. It's just too bad the food has too many issues.

The Good:
- Service was excellent
- Dining room was comfortable, despite being in a time warp
- Prime rib was excellent

The Bad:
- Food quality is not in line with the prices
- Worst Greek Salad we've ever had
- Frozen vegetables

Anastasia Steak & Seafood
13486 72nd Avenue
Surrey, B.C.
604-594-2322

Business Hours:
4:00pm - 10:00pm (Tue - Thu)
4:00pm - 11:00pm (Fri - Sat)
4:00pm - 9:30pm (Sun)

Anastasia Seafood & Steak House on Urbanspoon

Vera`s Burger Shack

I was in the downtown Vancouver area today and decided to pay Vera's Burger Shack a visit. Although there are plenty of locations in the GVRD, there is not one near where I live. When I used to live in downtown, I would frequent the Kitsilano location on Cornwall. I guess my loyalty to this location has not subsided, since I subconsciously drove right to it. This particular location has doubled in size from the original one-unit restaurant. In my opinion, I think Vera's serves up some of the best burgers in town. However, it is not THE best burger, I would save that distinction for Moderne Burger (well, at least in my opinion).

Vera's burgers are good since they only use fresh ingredients. The patties are never frozen and are made fresh daily. Frozen patties are often dried out since the moisture in them have formed ice crystals. When they melt, all the juice is lost in defrosting and cooking. Unfortunately, a good burger comes at a cost. The basic Vera burger is $5.99, which is reasonable. However, the specialty burgers are all around $8 -$10, and that does not include fries. This brings up the debate whether a burger on its own is worth $10. I think this is solely based on personal preference. If you love burgers (which I do), then it is well worth it. If you are indifferent towards burgers, then you probably think it's crazy. Either way, Vera's continues to do well; therefore, they must be doing something right.

So, after looking over the menu several times (I have a habit of second-guessing myself), I choose the Pawer Burger, which comes with cheese, a fried egg and onions. I added roasted garlic for 69 cents. My burger was excellent, the beef was just cooked, so it was still moist and flavourful. Every bite was juicy; the melted cheddar cheese and runny egg yolk just oozed all over the patty. This is what a burger should be like! My friend (let's call him 007), went with the G-Money, which is a monster 2 - patty burger with double cheese, and double fried mushrooms. It was messy, with cheese and mushrooms oozing all over his hands. 007 proclaimed that the messiness helped enhance the burger experience. He seemed a bit distressed after finishing the burger since it was so big...

We also ordered a side of fries and they were fresh and crispy. They were what fries should be like; crispy on the outside, tender potato-ness on the inside. The total bill for our burgers, fries and drinks was not cheap, we could have eaten at Whitespot, Milestone's or Cactus Club for that price (assuming we ordered burgers there too). However, the burgers at the aforementioned restaurants are not as good (in my opinion), as Vera's. In conclusion, if you love burgers, Vera's is worth it, if you don't, then probably not.

The Good:
- Burgers are excellent
- Lots of options, in terms of toppings and menu items
- Many locations

The Bad:
- A bit pricey for this type of restaurant
- Parking is scarce (for this location at least)

Vera's Burger Shack
1935 Cornwall Ave
Vancouver, B.C.
604-228-8372
www.verasburgershack.com

Business Hours:
11:00am - 11:00pm (7 days a week)

Vera's Burger Shack on Urbanspoon

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Japadog

Okay, so I had a Pro-D today and it was all the way in Tsawwassen. Boy, was the traffic miserable getting there. A big lineup on Hwy 99 backed up almost to Westminster Hwy! Luckily I picked up Miss Y along the way, so we could take the carpool lane. The sessions were quite informative and interesting (it's true, I'm not just saying it to look good); however, the "healthy" ham sandwiches for lunch left us longing for some real food... Japadog!!!

What the heck is Japadog you might ask? Well, unless you've been living in a cave (sorry if I insulted you), Japadog is a hot dog cart right in front of the Sutton Place Hotel in downtown Vancouver. You might be wondering why in the world would I drive all the way from Tsawwassen to downtown for a hot dog, especially since Miss Y and I live in Burnaby. Well, these are no ordinary hot dogs! First of all, the wieners themselves are very good - meaty in texture and not overly salty in taste. That's a good thing, because the toppings make the hot dog. Various Japanese toppings are used to create a truly distinctive and delicious taste.

There are 4 Japanese-inspired hot dogs to choose from: Terimayo, Oroshi, Misomayo and Okonomi. From the picture of the menu, you can see that these hot dogs are not cheap; but for the taste experience, I think they are worth every penny. I decided to have the Terimayo and the Okonomi. The Terimayo is an all-beef dog with teriyaki sauce, Japanese mayo, fried onions and nori (seaweed). This is their best-seller and if you try it, you'll know why. The
combination of ingredients work really well with each other that gives you a taste explosion. The teriyaki sauce gives the salty and sweet kick, while the mayo mellows the flavour with a sweet smoothness. The nori adds a touch of aroma that is purely Japanese. However, I thought the onions were not caramelized enough and seemed too raw (I personally don't like raw onions).

I also had the Okonomi, which is a wiener made of Kurobuta pork (known as Black Hog or Berkshire Pork has more marbling, thus more juicy and tender pork), topped with Japanese mayo, fried cabbage, and Bonito flakes (dried fish). This hot dog is much more subtle in taste than the Terimayo since all of the toppings are quite mild. The cabbage supplied a very nice crunch, while the mayo kept the hot dog moist. The Bonito flakes gave a hint of fish flavour, but ever so slight. One thing I was not fond of was the casing for the weiner, it was very hard to chew.

On another visit, I gave the Misomayo a try and although it has some of the same components as the Terimayo, it has a flavour all to its own. First of all, it has a sesame miso sauce which is saltier and less sweet than the terimayo. Second, it has a turkey smokie rather than a beef dog. Although it does have the same creamy sweet mayo. Finishing the hot dog are radish sprouts that really don't add a whole lot in my opinion.

I haven't tried the Oroshi or the other fancy new dogs, but to me at least, nothing beats the original Terimayo. Interestingly, Miss Y had 2 plain hot dogs with sauteed onions.... As Forrest Gump would say, "and that's all I have to say about that...". So the only way you'll understand why we drove so far to fight with downtown traffic, try to find a parking space, lined-up in the freezing cold for a couple of hot dogs is to try it yourself!

The Good:
- Unique hot dogs
- Interesting flavours
- Quality ingredients

The Bad:
- It's a hot dog cart outside (not good in winter)
- Long lineups
- Can get expensive

Japadog
899 Burrard Street
Vancouver, B.C.
www.japadog.com

Business Hours:
12:00pm - 7:30pm (Mon - Thu)
12:00pm - 8:00pm (Fri - Sat)
12:30pm - 7:00 (Sun)

Japadog on Urbanspoon

Gourmet Pita

It's been pointed out to me that I've been eating way too much Asian food lately and upon closer inspection, it's absolutely true. However, I am finding it increasingly difficult to not eat Asian food in the GVRD. This is especially true in North Delta. Struggling to find non-Asian food, I decided to go back to an ol' standby, Gourmet Pita. Yes, it's not the most sexiest of choices to eat and blog about; but trust me, it's good eating.

Located in the same plaza as the Shell gas station on 112th and 84th, Gourmet Pita is not merely just a take out place. The restaurant itself is quite spacious and the seating is comfortable. In addition to pitas, there are salads, soups and smoothies. However, I'd stick with the pitas since this is what the place is all about. Funny thing happened when I asked if I could take some pictures. The staff looked extremely perplexed as they questioned, "Blog? What's a blog?" I tried to explain that I blog about restaurants on the internet and that still didn't seem to erase the confused looks on their faces. I think they finally just let me take pictures because they thought I was nuts or something.

Anyways, there is a wide selection of pitas ranging from Tandoori Chicken to Chicken Teriyaki. The prices range from $3.55 for a 7" Veggie to $6.98 for a 9" Chicken Breast. I've had a few of the pitas before and all of them have been pretty good. The freshness is what makes the pitas good - the meats and veggies are fresh. I chose the Tandoori chicken (it's my favourite), and picked my veggies and got Tzatziki sauce. Tzatziki sauce? On Tandoori chicken??? Yes, as odd as it may sound, it tastes good. The chicken was tender and there was just enough spice for flavour. The large pita is quite large, it is more than enough food for lunch. However, for the purposes of this post, I ordered the Chicken Noodle Soup as well. Let me say that I regret ordering the soup. First of all, it was stone cold. Second, the veggies were crunchy. I don't know about you, but I don't fancy crunchy soup. However, it did taste good, not being overly salty and the chicken was tender. But, as I said before, you come for the pitas at Gourmet Pita, nothing else.

The Good:
- Fresh food at decent prices
- Nice selection of pitas
- Comfortable dining room

The Bad:
- Don't eat anything else but the pitas

Gourmet Pita
#130 - 8380 112th Street
Delta, B.C.
604-507-7482

Gourmet Pita on Urbanspoon

Danny`s Wun Tun Restaurant

I've been reading quite a few reviews of this place on the internet and really didn't know what to think of it. Some people have said it's authentic Chinese food and others have called it "Westernized". That seems like polar opposites to me! So I wasn't planning on visiting the place anytime soon, since I don't live close to Richmond. But we decided to watch Slumdog Millionaire at Silvercity Riverport, which is quite close to Ironwood Plaza (where Danny's is located). Before I talk about the food, I must say that Slumdog Millionaire is a great movie - great cast and plot. Also, the end credits song "Jai Ho" is quite catchy. But before I turn this into a movie blog, back to the food...

After we parked, we approached Danny's and noticed the front display case full of BBQ duck, pork and roasted pig. This was a good sign, only authentic Chinese restaurants would have that. We were warmly greeted and seated promptly. The restaurant is clean and I really liked the decor. Also, the washrooms are clean too!!! In addition to the extensive regular menu, there are some lunch specials that include both wonton soup and rice. Some of the choices include Sweet and Sour Pork, Broccoli Beef, BBQ Pork, and Honey Garlic Spareribs. Now I have read a few reviews that call Danny's "non-asian friendly" (actually, they wrote something else, but I'm being PC). I would agree with that sentiment, most of the staff speak good English, the menu is in English/Chinese (trust me, in Richmond, it's not all like that), and the specials are not threatening (like pig's ear or beef lung).

I ordered off the regular menu to try the 2 things that judge a wonton restaurant - Wonton Noodles and Congee (rice porridge). The wonton noodles weren't bad, the soup tasted like wonton soup (made of shrimp shells, pork bones, and chicken). However, the noodles were a bit soft and not chewy enough for me. The wontons, made of shrimp and pork, were pretty average since they lacked filling and the shrimp was not crunchy. I suspect that the shrimp was not run under cold water long enough. This process makes cold-water shrimp, where the appearance becomes glass-like and the texture becomes quite crunchy. I had the Century Duck Egg and Salted Pork Congee. The congee itself was pretty good, it was thick and was not salty; however, the pork was not salty at all. This would indicate that the pork was not made in the proper manner. The proper way to make salted pork is to marinate it with loads of salt overnight, wash off the excess salt, then boil in water or in the congee itself until tender. The pork in my congee was tender as a result of baking soda and it was flavourless.

Other dishes at the table included Sweet and Sour Pork, Broccoli Beef, Almond Chicken, BBQ Pork and BBQ Duck. All were quite decent; but not spectacular. I thought the sweet and sour pork had a good balance of sweet, salty and sour. The broccoli beef was cooked well, with the broccoli being a bit crunchy still and the beef being tender. Quite surprisingly, the BBQ duck was excellent, it was perfectly cooked (being juicy inside and not too salty) and the skin was crispy. So is Danny's authentic or Westernized Chinese food? Well, I would say somewhere in between. I don't think the food is good enough for it's location - Richmond, the Chinese food capital of Canada. You must have outstanding Chinese food in Richmond to be considered good. I would say that Danny's is hit and miss. If Danny's was in out further in the burbs, where there is less competition, it would rate a bit higher. I'm not saying that Danny's is horrible, it's actually okay; but compared to the endless competition in Richmond, it's below average.

The Good:
- Staff is friendly
- Restaurant is very clean
- Lots of parking

The Bad:
- Food is hit and miss
- Food is not bad, but you can find better in Richmond
- Prices are a bit high for this type of restaurant

Danny's Wun Tun Restaurant
#3050 - 11666 Steveston Highway
Richmond, B.C.
604-277-3317

Business Hours:
11:00am - 10:00pm (7 days a week)

Danny's Wun Tun Restaurant (Ironwood Plaza) on Urbanspoon

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