Generally, Vancouverites have been exposed to many different types of Asian cuisines - some over-represented and some under-represented or even non-existent. By now, the Hong Kong-style cafe is not the mystery it once was. Well, to most people that is. For those who need the info, a Hong Kong-style cafe is a restaurant that serves up a Chinese interpretations of various types of cuisines such as pasta prepared with a ketchup base or a white sauce that usually involves milk and corn starch. How about the traditional 2 egg breakfast served with a side of Spam or hot dog wiener? Alas, we can't forget about the Portuguese chicken or baked fried pork chop rice. Yes, the food sounds weird and the ingredients even weirder; but people love it. Now, there is a Japanese version of sorts to this type of cafe. It also includes their interpretation of Western food with a combination of Japanese comfort foods. There are several places that do serve this type of food, namely Hi-Genki, Vanya, Tenhachi and Kimura. However, there was one place on Denman that served only this type of food. Unfortunately, Yoshoku-Ya closed its doors recently after many years of being at that location. Now, the owners have set up shop at the former location of James Street Cafe on Boundary at 29th Ave. Simply named 29th Ave Cafe, they are serving up the same favourites from before.
After 3 games of softball for our tournament, we were pretty tired and somewhat hungry. Well, most people were hungry; but for me, I had just finished a large corned beef sandwich from Kaplan's not too long ago. Oh, and I had a matzo ball soup too... Well, that didn't prevent us from heading over to the newly opened 29th Ave cafe for some Japanese comfort food. Bear, our resident Japanese food expert, reminded us to save room for purin, in this case the Japanese version of creme caramel. Now, the menu is simple; yet there is a little of everything for everyone. For myself, I had the Chicken Saute with Mushroom Sauce. For the price, it was a fairly good portion with a perfectly cooked chicken breast. And when I say perfectly cooked, I mean juicy, moist and tender. That is easier said than done, especially with such a thick piece of meat. The sauce was silky and flavourful with a hint of wine. I could barely spot the chicken at first because there was so many mushrooms on top. I had to get a side of rice to eat this so I could soak up every little drop of the delicious sauce. Bear asked me if I wanted to share an order of Chicken Cream Korokke and there was no
doubt I would oblige. I'm glad I did since the korokke was very good. Very crisp outside (not oily either) and filled with a pleasantly creamy inside full of chicken and onions. For his main, Bear had the Hamburg Steak or their version of the Salisbury steak with tonkatsu sauce on top. The meat was extremely moist and juicy. This is due to steaming it first before pan-frying. The meat itself had lots of flavour and a touch of onion. However, the tonkatsu sauce was a little weak. Of course the accompanying veggies were coated with an obscene amount of butter (which is a good thing!).
Boss Woman went for the Pork Cutlet Curry Rice, which should have been called: A Lot of Curry with some rice and a pork chop. Anyways, typical of Japanese curry, this one was sweet with only the mildest hint of spice. The pork chop was meaty and fried beautifully. It was moist and tender. Judes went for the Pork Cutlet (Tonkatsu) and much like Boss Woman's pork cutlet, it was thick, juicy and crisp on the outside. With a bottle of Tonkatsu sauce on the table, I merely doused my piece of meat. Finally, Milhouse had the Pork Tenderloin Cutlet, which was similar to Judes' order except it was a different cut of meat. And much of the same, it was equally moist and crispy. At this point, I was not really in the mood for more food since I'd already ate essentially 2 dinners within 3 hours apart of each other. But Bear insisted I try the Custard Pudding (or Purin or Creme Caramel or whatever you want to call it). For $3.00, this was a friggin' steal. Not because it was merely cheap either. This was so good; it could rival or surpass many "fine dining" establishments in terms of execution. No joke! There was no air bubbles within the silky smooth custard. It was only semi-sweet and the best thing of all was the rich, smoky caramel - so tasty. In fact, all of the food was yummy and well-priced. Despite the lack of staff, our glasses were always full of water and we never felt neglected. Sure, the place isn't much to look at; however, if it's Japanese comfort food you're looking for, this is the place to be.
- Reasonable prices
- Wonderfully executed dishes
- Super friendly owners
- The place is not much to look at
- If the place gets busy, service might possibly suffer