Sherman's Food Adventures: December 2020

Off The Grid Cafe

Over 3 years ago, I had visited Off The Grid Waffles out on Kingsway near the old Wally's Burgers location.  I tried a few things and it was really good!  But keeping with my "cannot do a blog post with less than 3 items off the menu" rule, I didn't end up posting about it.  Therefore, it sat there in my queue waiting for my revisit to try more things.  Well, I never ended up going, so I didn't do a post at all!  Fast forward to the present and they have moved to Fraser Street on the same block as Angel Cafe.  No longer are they just a waffle shop, they are now Off the Grid Cafe dishing up brunch and fried chicken.

Since I've been on a fried chicken sandwich quest, it was only reasonable to try all 3 of their available sammies including the Off The Grid Original (cheese, cabbage and BBQ mayo), The Ring (onion ring, bacon, cabbage, cheese and BBQ mayo) and The Fiery Bird (spicy fried chicken thigh, cheese, cabbage and BBQ mayo).  The fried chicken thighs were as crunchy as they appeared in the picture.  Nicely spiced and brined, the chicken was juicy too.  I would've preferred cheddar over the processed cheese, but it didn't make or break the sammies.  The fiery bird was mildly spicy with plenty of tanginess.  Loved the brioche buns, soft and warm, it held everything together.

As for their Fried Chicken, we sampled their 2 PC Meal with a side of waffle fries (at a waffle place... nice!).  Mind you, other side options were plentiful including Cajun wedges, onion rings, yam fries and curly fries.  By employing the exact boneless thighs as the sammies, the fried chicken was crunchy and well-seasoned.  The dark meat was juicy and tender as well.  Waffle fries were prepared properly being crunchy, even when it sat for awhile before we ate it.

Off to the sweets, they served it to-go because there isn't any dine-in service at the moment.  We had the Ferrero Rocher Waffle Cup as well as a Mango Shake.  Just like before, the waffles were fantastic.  Crispy on the outside while soft and chewy on the inside, the texture was on point.  Nicely aromatic and lightly sweet too.  Ice cream was good quality being hard and creamy.  The shake was nicely blended and thick.  Just sweet enough and definite mango essence.  So as you can see, the menu has diversified to not only offer more selection, it is a great way to get through Covid until dine-in service can return.  There are also many brunch items on the menu as well.  Solid stuff and great for takeout, even the desserts!

 *All food and drink were complimentary*

The Good:

- You would think the waffles would be the star of the show, it is actually the fried chicken

- Waffles are still great!

- Reasonably-priced

The Bad:

- Cups for the waffle desserts could be bigger, a bit difficult to eat


I'm sure many of you are familiar with the Chinese version of Ja Jeun Mein that sees white flour noodles topped with a ground pork sauce mixed with soybean paste (and other ingredients) and finished with julienned cucumber.  I enjoy this dish very much but I actually prefer the Korean one more (Jajangmyeon).  That recipe calls for Korean black bean paste, lots of onion and pork belly.  So when Jacqueline told me there was a tasty one found at Hanok in Richmond, I was totally game to go.  Of course we ate more than just that and ordered an array of other dishes on their lunch menu as well.

We started off the usual Banchan that included pickled radish, kimchi, stewed potatoes, bean sprouts and tofu skins.  Solid stuff where I found the kimchi to have good spice.  We also got the Kimbap as well and it featured big chunks of filling with chewy sushi rice.  Also in barely in the picture, we got the lunch portion of the Tangsuyuk.  The batter was a bit on the gummier side.  Yes, I do realize the potato starch should be crunchy and chewy, but this was a bit too chewy.  Flavour was good though with a balanced amount of sweet and sour.

Okay, for the one dish we were really here for - Jajangmyeon!  Well, this was in fact pretty solid.  Is it the best I've ever had?  Well no, but that didn't mean we didn't enjoy it.  The noodles were chewy and not clumpy.  There was plenty of sauce that was rich in flavour, but could've used more salt.  Lots of onion which provided sweetness and a touch of sharpness.  I would've liked to see pork belly as the meat was rather dry and lacking impact.

One of the best dishes of the meal was the LA Galbi (BBQ Beef Short Ribs).  Yes, this seemingly simple dish can often be disappointing due to being chewy, not marinated correctly and/or not seared enough.  Well, this one was done right with none of the issues I just mentioned.  These were buttery and tender with plenty of sweet and savouriness.  Charred just enough without being burnt too.

The same could not be said about the Japchae though.  They should have renamed this to "Yangpachae" as it was nearly all white onion with very little noodle.  Imagine this in terms of taste!  Yes, it did taste exactly how it appeared being sharp and overpowering.  Beyond that, there wasn't enough seasoning to counteract the onions either.  Compounding the issue was the lack of meat in this version (less expensive lunch option).

Fortunately, the Dolset Bibimbap was much better.  I wished there was a raw egg on top rather than sunny side, but I'm sure there was a reason for that.  Although it wasn't the most carefully constructed version of this dish, the stone bowl was sizzling hot and we were able to get a socarrat on the bottom.  Rice was not too wet, which helped the cause.  Plenty of ingredients made this hearty.

We also got the obligatory Spicy Soft Tofu Soup with beef.  This came literally boiling hot (which is what you want).  The soup base itself had depth and meatiness.  There was a balanced amount of spice.  There was plenty of soft tofu in the soup, but a bit lacking with the beef.  But it was the lunch special, so we didn't mind.  Overall, the lunch prices at Hanok are an absolute steal in my mind.  Food is generally good with a few hiccups.  I'd come back.

The Good:

- Inexpensive lunch pricing

- Decent eats

- Fairly good service

The Bad:

- Some items were a bit lacking, maybe due to lunch version?

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