29th Ave Cafe

*Restaurant is now closed*

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 m
ain, 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.

The Good:
- Reasonable prices
- Wonderfully executed dishes
- Super friendly owners

The Bad:
- The place is not much to look at
- If the place gets busy, service might possibly suffer

29th Ave Cafe on Urbanspoon

10 comments:

holly said...

Too bad I didn't read your post yesterday. My friends and I went looking for them at their old location on Denman and were disappointed they were closed. My friend really wanted to eat their korokke again.

I am so excited to see they are just a couple blocks away from my house. Now I can eat japanese comfort food whenever I'm in the mood.

Maybe weekly?

shokutsu said...

I made my way there the other day too. Neat little experience, and glad one doesn't have to go downtown with its brutal parking, to try these dishes... :)

LotusRapper said...

Hey thanks for this review, Sherman ! That part of Boundary/Joyce seems like a deadzone for good eats (or any eats) and I never slow down to bother looking at the stores around that curve anyway.

Didn't even know Yoshoku-Ya closed.

Since I love my tonkatsu (very few places in town I've been to make them well), I gotta try this place out. And with curry, what bonus. And that had better be genuine Glico curry too [grin].

KimHo said...

Oh, c'mon, shokutsu, 2/3 of the restaurants in Downtown are overrated so you might not necessarily be missing much!

LR, 29th Ave Cafe might be in the dead centre between Kimura, Joyce Skytrain station and El Inka Deli. So, it ain't necessarily there aren't any good eats, it is a matter of how much you are willing to drive (in this case, it is even walking distance!).

Sherman, forgot Hi Genki! Having said that, I hope it is as good as you are suggesting it to be. I went to Yoshoku-Ya eons ago and it was a bit subpar. However, it might be due to a combination of factors (lunch, ordered the hamburg steak) plus I had a preference for (the now closed) Barefoot Kitchen. But, hey, if they are in the new location and food is good... :)

holly said...

On no, not Barefoot Kitchen too!! They had a decent demi glace sauce. Darn.

Boy, the only ones left for your yoshoku cravings now are 29th Ave, Miura on Broadway, and Sangka Cafe on Kingsway (owned by 2 university grads).

Sherman said...

@Holly Yah, I was really pleased with the food there with the reasonable prices too. Lucky you are so close!

@shokutsu Yah, the parking lot is a nice treat. I love the owners there. So friendly.

@LR Dead zone it is. There are some decent places to eat up the street on Joyce though. Otherwise, nothing.

@KimHo I remembered your post on Yoshoku-Ya. The Hamburg steak was really moist; but the sauce was weak. So it's better but could still use some improvement.

LotusRapper said...

Went there last week. Ordered the regular tonkatsu with rice, potato salad (wth ?!?) and salad. The cutlets (2) were pretty good, crispy, juicy and had a good batter texture. The rest of the meal ..... felt like hospital food. When was the last time I ever had so much Thousand Island dressing on my plate, maybe during university days eating at Uncle Willy's ?!? Even had to pay $1 for the serving of plain rice.

Very meh IMHO. $12 out the door. Won't be back.

I can't wait to go try out Saboten.

Sherman said...

@LR I guess it is the "can't find this anywhere nearby effect". 29th Ave Cafe probably would not stand a chance if say, there were 4 other similar restaurants nearby. However, with the lack of such, then they'll suffice for now... Just like how Dim Sum (the only show in town) in Chinatown used to be in the 70's and 80's... Wouldn't be able to compete now.

LotusRapper said...

@Sherman: you are correct. I did notice the entire restaurant clientèle (1/2 full) were of the Asian youngsters under-30 crowd.

Thomas said...

I know this is a pretty old post, but just found out they're closed at this location as of this week. Really bummed as this was a great comfort food place.