As mentioned in my post on Chef Corner in Burnaby, I lamented the lack of Hong Kong-style cafes outside of Richmond and to a lesser extent Vancouver. It's like there is a black hole of sorts once we cross Boundary Road into Burnaby and beyond. I'm pretty sure there are people in the burbs who enjoy a baked pork chop rice with a cold Horlicks on the side. So why are we inundated with chain restaurants and sushi joints but nary a place that serves ox-tongue spaghetti??? Well, I guess we have to start somewhere and M Cafe in Coquitlam exists for that purpose. I gathered up the family including my parents to see if this place is legit or not.
We decided to get some of the classics including the Baked Pork Chop Rice. This was a pretty decent version with a chewy fried rice base. On top, there was enough sauce to moisten things up as well as providing the usual sweet and mildly tart hits. The pork chop was decent in size and still a touch crispy on the outside. It wasn't super moist, but hardly dry either. It was fairly tender. Interestingly, this was the small size and we felt it was plenty big already. The same could be said about the Baked Seafood Linguine with cream sauce. We wondered what a large size would entail. Despite sporting overcooked noodles, there was a generous amount of fish, imitation crab, baby scallops, shrimp and mussel on top. Although the sauce was more milky than creamy, it had a nice consistency and was well-seasoned.
My son was all about the Dual Set Combo because he loves the sole fillet cutlet. Something about the crunchy panko coating... Well, it was definitely on point texturally as well as the flaky and moist fish inside. The other item was the chicken steak and it was succulent and well-seared. It had a kick to it thanks to the ample chili flakes. He got linguine noodles as a side and with the influence of grandma, selected the lobster sauce. With just a mild hint of lobster, the sauce was thick and not overly salty. This also included a choice of soup and beverage. We ended up choosing the soup since he was didn't like the other choice. But he did like the $1.50 we added for the puff pastry topping on the Cream of Mushroom. Again, the soup wasn't creamy, yet rather milky. With that being said, it was decent being well-seasoned and full of mushrooms.
Viv and I wanted to try their build your own noodle soup with the vermicelli in Laksa Soup topped by tender beef and fish tofu. Although this was far from an actual laksa (being thin and watery with only a bit of spice and lacking coconut milk), it was fine for what it was. There was a tonne of chewy noodles in the broth and they didn't skimp with the ingredients either. In addition to the filler of Napa cabbage, we never seemed to run out of tender slices of well-marinated beef. On the other hand, there wasn't much of the fish tofu. My mom spotted the Baked Salted Chicken special for $14.88 on the table and it really was a fantastic value. This was a whole chicken that was pretty tender and moist, especially for free-range. There was no lack of flavour from the wok-tossed salt either.
Something that was completely devoid of impact was the Braised Beef Brisket and Daikon Hot Pot. Yes, we realized it was in a clear broth, but the whole thing really needed some salt. Also, the beef brisket was really thinly sliced short rib, which was dry and slightly chewy. The daikon was quite good though as it rode the fine line between being too soft and too firm. So after trying a good array of dishes, M Cafe offered up good value and decent eats out in Coquitlam. Sure, there is better in Richmond and Vancouver, but if you weren't willing to travel, M Cafe does the job.
- Decent for its location
- Large portions
- Spacious restaurant
- The place itself needs repairs and a thorough cleaning
- Again, only decent, but if you didn't want to drive far...