Sherman's Food Adventures: Cattle Cafe (Burnaby)

Cattle Cafe (Burnaby)

What has happened to our hockey team? We were once the toast of the division, now we are just plain toast. After our 5th loss in a row, in crushing fashion (9-0), we needed to refocus. What better way to do that than to go eat? Well, at least that's what I was gonna do. Drown my sorrows in food, lots of it. Polka King was so distraught, I had to drop him at home prior to meeting up with the rest of the team to eat. Well, either that or he had more important plans. Is there a Polka Queen in the works? Hmm... Anyways, Gadget Girl and I had already settled on the restaurant of choice a few nights ago. Rather than standing in the foyer of the ice rink looking at each other in complete confusion as to where to eat, it seemed like a good idea to make plans first. Seeing how she and Mr. Blueberry had to be near the Metrotown area, Cattle Cafe came to mind. Actually, it was Snake who alerted to me this new location in the former digs of Swish Swish (and before that Death by Chocolate). Coincidentally, Jacqueline (a faithful reader) emailed me the same day alerting me of Cattle Cafe as well. Was this a sign? Well, either that or Snake has a pseudonym! You know, he does look good in pink...

As expected, there was a wait when we arrived at the place. You see, Cattle Cafe has a few things going for it. Portions are large, prices are fair and quality is decent. A pretty good recipe for success. Now a wait at this location is a bit tricky. You see, since Death by Chocolate was the original occupant of this unit, it wasn't exactly the biggest place. Furthermore, it was never meant to house a full-service kitchen. Thus, there is a very limited amount of seats. Being curved on the exterior side doesn't help the cause. Well, I guess we were lucky because it didn't take too long for our table, probably 20 minutes or so. Pretty impressive considering we had 9 people. Too bad they gave us a table that really was meant for 8. We ended up sticking Milhouse at one end of the table, with the back of his seat pushed up against the neighbouring table. Problem solved! LOL...

We took the longest time to decide what to eat since the menu is pretty extensive. Being that we were seated in time for the late night menu (starts at 9:00pm), we took advantage of it. However, Chipmunk decided to go for the full-sized version of the Pork Chop in Creamy Onion Bacon Demi-Glaze on Rice. Alright, I'm not even sure if the sauce is an actual demi-glace; but it sure tasted great. I could definitely get the saltiness of the bacon and the sweetness of the onions. Furthermore, the pork chop itself was super tender and juicy. Rollergirl (no, not Heather Graham) went for the Brisket & White Turnip Hot Pot. Looking quite pale and sliced razor thin, the brisket was bland. In fact, the whole thing was bland. I think that was the intention since there was a side of XO sauce. At least the meat was tender. Rice and 2 small dishes rounded out the meal. Emilicious ordered the same hot pot as well (gasp! duplicates!) and she struggled to finish it.

Gadget Girl and Mr. Blueberry were quite ambitious and decided on 3 dishes to share starting with the Pork Chop in Coconut & Mango Creamy Sauce with Rice (mini-meal size). Despite looking like a 2-year old plated the dish, it tasted a whole lot better than it appeared. The creamy sauce was not heavy at all exhibiting a refreshing mango flavour. The Boneless Chicken Mushrooms in Black Pepper Sauce on Rice was a stark contrast to the mango sauce. Definitely peppery with a good amount of salt, this was a bold and heavy sauce. By all accounts, the chicken was tender as well. Lastly, they shared the Basa Filet & Tofu Hot Pot. This was a complete bust. The small pieces of fish were overly battered; thus the texture suffered. The sauce was alright being your typical oyster/soy sauce blend. It was quite watery though.

Milhouse ended up with the Fish Filet in Creamy Almond Sauce on Rice. I tried some of the sauce and there was certainly a quasi-pesto thing going on with it. Milhouse and Bear seemed to have the same observation. It was a bit strange; but in the end, it worked, especially with the fish. Boss Woman took forever to decide on her order and finally settled on the Tom Yum Seafood Hot Pot. I warned her that it would be slightly spicy and indeed it was. I should've warned her that by virtue of ordering seafood, she might not get full. Too late, she complained it wasn't fulfilling. I swear she can out eat us all. Personally, I felt there was a good amount of seafood for the money.

At first, I was tempted to order one of their signature soup noodles. The method here is to choose what type of noodle, soup base and toppings to create your own personalized bowl. In the end, I went for the mini-meal Brisket & White Turnip with Rice Noodle in Soup. Being almost exactly like the hot pot, everything was just plain bland. It wasn't bad per se; but some people may want more flavour. Well, I did get extra flavour in the form of a wayward mosquito that landed smack dab in the soup. I proceeded to pick it up with my chopsticks and chuck it onto the table. I continued eating my noodles to the horror of the people around me. Hey, I'm Chinese! As if one meal wasn't enough, I actually ordered the Baked Pork Chop with Tomato Sauce on Rice. Crispy on the outside while tender and juicy on the inside, I thought the pork chops were perfect. The lack of pork fat made it even better (not that I don't like pork fat; but not in my pork chop). The sauce was a typical Hong Kong-style cafe tomato sauce. It was flavourful with some tartness.

Bear ended up with the mini-meal version of the baked pork chop, except with spaghetti instead of rice. For $2.00 less, it wasn't much smaller! I should've ordered that one instead! Most meals include coffee or tea; add $1.00 for cold drinks and $2.00 for specialty drinks. In terms of value, Cattle Cafe has that nailed down easy. Portions are fair for the price while food quality is generally quite good. That would probably explain the constant line of people waiting at the front door.

The Good:
- Fair price
- Fair portions
- Pretty good sauces (even though they don't look it)

The Bad:
- This location has a severe lack of seating
- Service is pretty basic

Cattle Cafe (Burnaby) on Urbanspoon


Jenny said...

my friend was just telling about this place too, it does seems to be a bit of a buzz surrounding it. The food looks okay, but from the sounds of it taste great. How would you compare this with place like Copa cafe?

holly said...

I had a craving for Cattle Cafe this week, but couldn't remember where their new location was. Thanks for reminding me.

I really wanted their waffle balls too (which are reputed to be the best in Vancouver). Also, they have the best HK style food in the metrotown area. Consistent food and great prices.

So where did I end up? Tom & Jerry's diner on Hastings. I had their salisbury steak dinner but everyone was ordering their $9.95 steak dinner and $5 chicken wings (1lbs) special. Maybe next time.

LotusRapper said...

That's funny Jenny, I also thought of Copa for comparison too. Although I live very close to Copa, after the first 4-5 times I got bored of them and don't find their menu particular of good value.

Since I work at Metrotown I should try Cattle. I was a Lao Shan Dong regular until their 2nd location The One opened up, and have been going there regularly since. But I do crave HK-style cafe food from time to time.

Sherman, what's their price range and average price ?

Sherman said...

Hi Jenny, it does taste okay. Some better than others of course. The main draw is not really the taste, it's the price and portions. I think Cattle is a better value than Copa. And some items are indeed better.

Holly, yah, no one had enough room for the waffles. Next time! T&J's eh? Well, at least they dropped the prices to align with their food quality.

LR, prices range from $7 - $9. Good value indeed.

Anson said...

Hey Sherman,

I had the opportunity to go at 1:30pm to try this place out. There was STILL a line-up. Although with a party of two, it was much faster. I could not imagine what this place was like during PEAK hours. Line-up could be 45minutes!

Place is too cramped. I ended up having to help my server...serve me coffee, the entree, and cutlery. She could not reach my table because of a table in the way. Maybe I could have tipped myself. Heh.

But agree. Large portions for good prices. There's no other cafe style place as competition in the far as I know....right? Will likely go back.

Sherman said...

Anson, that place is way too cramped. But alas, it is the value quotient that rules here. Some items better than others though.

LotusRapper said...

I tried to have lunch at Cattle last week during lunch hour. The line-up was about 20 mins. I was by myself but that's no advantage, as many other parties waiting were for 2, and it seems most of their tables are 2-person. I gave up after 15 mins and went next door to Tomoya (Japanese). They are next door to Lao Shan Dong.

Was seated, served hot tea, and given menu within a minute of walking in. Had the $9 combo (three items) which were huge in quantity and well-made. Been awhile since I've been to Tomoya, now I'll remember to go back more often.