Sherman's Food Adventures: April 2017

Patsara Thai

Have you even noticed that there is an inordinate amount of Thai restaurants in and around the New West area?  Well, I wouldn't classify it as a bounty of Thai restaurants, rather, there are quite a few considering the population size and demographics.  It's just like the amount of Japanese restaurants in Ladner.  There really is not rhyme or reason, but heck, I like Thai food, so why am I even talking about this?  Big D and I met up with Slick at Patsara Thai situated in a non-descript building that could pass for anything but a restaurant.  They don't even have any signage other than the name in the window.

Since we met for lunch, we took advantage of their specials and ordered 4 dishes to share.  With each, a Spring Roll and Green Salad were included.  Nothing particularly amiss with these 2 items as the spring roll was hot and crispy with a veggie filling that was just the right density (not wrapped too tight or too loose).  The salad was a salad, but was fresh and topped with enough sweet and tart dressing.

We ended up with 2 curries starting with the classic Green Curry with chicken.  Normally, I find Thai curries to be mostly sauce with very little meat and ingredients.  Thankfully, this was not the case here (even though it was a lunch special).  There was a good ratio of chicken and veggies that made the dish fulfilling.  With that being said, the chicken was a bit on the drier side.  Flavours were pleasant, if not a bit sweet.  I would've like to see more spiciness.  We also got the Red Curry with pork and it was a bit more impactful.  Again, there was enough ingredients to call it a meal where the pork was more tender than the chicken.  Again, the amount of palm sugar was noticeable, but at the very least, it was balanced by the spice level.

Our other 2 dishes were noodles including Pad Thai with shrimp.  This was pretty traditional with pressed tofu, pickled turnip, peanuts, sprouts, lime and large shrimp.  I found that there was a good amount of wok heat to create caramelization (hence sweet again), some smokiness and a dry enough (in a good way) chewy noodle.  I would've enjoyed more tang, but the dish was not devoid of flavour though.  Textures were all on on point.  Our second noodle dish was the Pad See Ew with beef (cover all the meats right?).  Like the Pad Thai, the noodles were appealingly chewy with a good sear from the wok heat.  Flavours were surprisingly mild (which was fine by me as this dish can be salty) and the amount of beef was generous. From this small sample size, this was enough evidence for us to plan a return visit.  Can't beat good food at reasonable prices.

The Good:
- Solid eats
- Nice clean and spacious dining space
- Reasonably-priced

The Bad:
- Food was on the sweeter side
- I personally would've requested spicier (but that is easily done)

Dixie's BBQ

I'm a big fan of American BBQ, specifically Texas-style.  So when Dixie's BBQ opened up on East Hastings, I planned on heading out there after hockey one night.  However, due to our constant late night league times on Fridays, the place closed before we could ever hope to get there.  Finally, I couldn't hold on anymore and wait for an early game.  Rather, I just decided to hit up the place with the family.  Hey, I wanted the kids to get jacked up about BBQ as much as I do!

But before we got the festivities, I was confident that the kiddies would destroy the Frito-Pie.  That they did since it was covered with a meaty chili consisting of chunks of brisket, tomato, onions and beans.  The spice level was at a low-rumble and accented with a certain smokiness.  Okay, the corn chips weren't Frito-Lay, but whatever, Old Dutch worked for us.  I particularly loved the big chunks of tender brisket.

Seeing how we wanted to try everything, we went for The Bubba with smoked brisket, pork ribs, pulled pork, hot sausage link, fried chicken, country gravy, white bread, pickles and 2 sides for $35.00 each (for Viv and myself).  Just by eyeballing the meats, we knew they were on point.  The brisket was fairly moist with a rich smokiness and a flavourful bark that was peppery and purposefully salty.  Served in big chunks, the pulled pork was tender and juicy on its own without the need for any sauce.  The same could be said about the pork ribs as they were actually juicy while sporting a smoky and peppery bark.  I thought the sausage was pretty good too being meaty and firm with a definite hit of cumin.  Lastly, the fried chicken was succulent while featuring crispy rendered skin that was also peppery and lightly salty.  The side of country gravy was packed with sausage, making it robust and sinfully tasty.

For our sides, we chose Tatar Tots, Brisket & Beans, Mac n' Cheese and Corn Bread (2 were part of The Bubba and we added 2 more).  Of course, white bread and house-made pickles were included as wellOur favourite (especially with my son) was the mac n' cheese as it was creamy and had a nice sharp finish.  The noodles were al dente too.  Aggressively peppered, the tots were firmly crunchy while not super greasy.  Similar to the chili but with less spice, the brisket and beans was hearty and had depth.  We thought the corn bread was average not because it wasn't moist or flavourful, rather, it lacked a baked aroma.  I often lament over the fact we can't get really good BBQ up in Vancity, but for me at least, Dixie's does Texas-style BBQ justice.

The Good:
- Meats were not dry
- Sides were solid
- Reasonable pricing with all things considered

The Bad:
- Corn bread was so-so
- Not the best outside surroundings, but I didn't mind it  

Sushi Den

It seems like every neighbourhood has a community centre, a supermarket, drug store, McD's, Tim's and a sushi joint.  That's right, it is as common as the rest and in fact, would probably be the one constant compared to the others.  That's why there are over 600 Japanese restaurants in the GVRD.  Therefore, it also means that these spots are generally not Miku-killers (if we used that as one of the gold standards), but do serve a purpose where takeout is one of their biggest money-makers.  Take Sushi Den for instance.  With so many high rises and Rogers Arena nearby, there is rarely a time when it isn't busy.  We finally decided to check it out since we were in the area.

If you ever wondered why we always seem to order Assorted Sashimi, it's not solely for Viv and myself.  Rather, my daughter demands it (she will be high-maintenance in the future, I pity the boy who dates her...).  Well, this plate here consisted of Atlantic salmon, sockeye salmon, tuna, tai, toro, tako, ika and amaebi.  Pretty good value for $15.00 and it was more than acceptable.  Then only thing I didn't particularly care for was the toro as was strangely textured.  For my son, his demands was for his usual Tamago Nigiri (we added some Unagi Nigiri so there was some variety).  This was rather average with inconsistently sliced egg, yet at the same time, the rice was minimal.

We asked for the most popular specialty roll and it happened to be the Out of Controll.  Ah, so whimsically-named...  This was only $10.00 and consisted of 12 large pieces.  Why so cheap?  Think of it as the "scraps" roll where anything goes including both types of salmon, tuna and tamago.  Yes, the bits of fish in there were practically falling out, but if you aren't picky, it works.  We found the rice to be a little dry, but okay.  Another dish for my daughter was the Pork Gyoza, which was deep fried (not my personal preference).  Despite that, it was actually not bad as the skin was only moderately thick while crispy.  The best part was the tender and juicy pork filling which was a nice balance between meat and cabbage.

The next 2 items were attacked by my son not only because he was hungry, but also they are his favourites.  The Chicken Teri-Don was a bit heavy with the rice as there was only a modest amount of tender chicken.  It could've used more sear and sauce.  The rice was chewy, yet again, a bit dry (and in need of the aforementioned sauce).  Surprisingly, it came with tempura which was doubled-up with our order of Assorted Tempura.  We found the batter to be fairly thin and crispy, albeit a touch greasy.  The veggies were on point including asparagus, broccoli, yam, sweet potato and lotus root.  The ebi was meaty and cold-water buttery.  Overall, you can probably ascertain that the food was serviceable and with reasonable prices considering its location, Sushi Den will keep the locals coming back for more.

The Good:
- Reasonably-priced
- Well-portioned
- Serviceable

The Bad:
- It's okay, but of course there is much better
- A bit cramped and crowded   

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