Sherman's Food Adventures: Copa Cafe (Vancouver)

Copa Cafe (Vancouver)

"I want to eat Asian", boldly stated by Chill after our softball game.  At that point I wasn't sure if he was referring to food or something more along the lines of Rob Ford...  Whatever the case, we had to figure out where to go that would help us beat the heat (ie. cold drinks in an A/C environment).  So off we went to Copa Cafe on Cambie since it seemed to fit all of our individual requirements.  This revisit of sorts has been delayed for a few years since Copa struggled with some inconsistencies.  We were hoping they had worked everything out.

Much to the delight of Boss Woman, we shared a bunch of dishes amongst a few of us.  Of course her selection was as obvious as a bike lane in Downtown.  Yes, she selected the Scrambled Eggs and Shrimp on Rice Noodles.  This was pretty good with flat rice noodles that were only mildly greasy and nicely kissed by a hot wok.  On top, the starch-thickened scrambled egg sauce was silky while being well-seasoned.  The decent amount of shrimp were meaty and only slightly overdone.  For myself, I chose the HK-Style Cafe classic - Linguine Bolognese.  Well, usually it is with spaghetti, but they like to use linguine here for some reason.  I found the pasta to be a bit too soft, but it wasn't mushy either.  The sauce was pretty dry for some reason and did not coat all the noodles sufficiently.  It was meaty though with the classic sweet onion taste accented by star anise and melted cheese.

Bear decided on another classic being the Baked Pork Chop Rice.  Now this one was saucy where the rice was adequately coated.  I particularly liked the pieces of tart tomato as it livened up the usually pretty mild watered-down ketchup-based sauce.  As for the pork chop, it was firm yet tender while coated with a thin layer of breading.  I liked how it wasn't mushy.  The rice was nicely wok-fried where it didn't get too wet with the sauce.  Milhouse went off the board somewhat and ordered the Baked Grouper Florentine Style.  Even though there was ample mild cream sauce on top, I felt it wasn't enough for the rice as it remained rather dry.  The fish was good though being flaky and moist.

Judes decided to go for the Assorted Meat Chow Mein which was the weakest dish we had by far.  The noodles were super crispy (which was actually a good thing), but there was way too little sauce to make an impact.  Hence, the whole dish was dry despite the ample amount of BBQ pork, chicken, sprouts and veggies.  The lack of sauce also meant the dish didn't exhibit any real flavour either.  To ensure our eating satisfaction, I suggested we add the B+B Combo consisting of chicken steak and fried cod filet with black pepper sauce.  This was nicely done with a succulent deboned chicken leg that was nicely crisped up.  The fish was breaded lightly and fried until golden brown while sporting a moist interior.  Peppery and salty, the sauce was impactful.

One last dish was the Portuguese Chicken on rice in a hot stone bowl.  As much as there was seemingly a good amount of sauce on top, the dish was crying out for moisture.  The rice ended up to be dry (due to the hot stone bowl), which was actually appealing, but without enough sauce, it was hard to eat.  Furthermore, there was a complete lack of flavour such as the classic coconut milk and sweetness.  At the very least, the chicken was moist.  As part of B+B combo, we also had a bowl of Borscht on the table.  Yes, it is the HK-style cafe version, but it was decent with lots of bold acidity and bite.  It was also loaded with ingredients.  Overall, we thought the food was okay, but not in the same league as Gloucester down the street. Portions and pricing were good though, especially being mini-meals (which included a bevy).

The Good:
- Decent portions
- Well-priced
- Comfortable seating

The Bad:
- Average eats
- Dishes were dry
- Service was sparse

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Alvin said...

I find their baked portugese chicken infinitely better. Actually, I haven't found a cafe that puts as nice a char on their baked dishes as Copa. God knows why they keep those stone-bowl items on their menu...

LotusRapper said...

Baked dishes (on rice or on spaghetti) are quite good at Moon Cafe on Fraser & 46th.

Sherman Chan said...

@LR Moon Cafe closed over a week ago for good...

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