Sherman's Food Adventures: February 2023

Smitty's Oyster House

At one point in my life (like before I was 20), I wasn't a really fan of oysters - raw or cooked.  However, as I ate more and more of them, I started to like oysters in all forms.  So going for happy hour oysters is a real thing for me and due to the recent social media hype about Smitty's (has been on my list for awhile), we decided to hit them up precisely for their happy hour (and the oysters).  If this location looks familiar to you, it used to the the Five Point...

So here we go with a dozen of Sunseeker Oysters complete with all the condiments including grated horseradish, lemon wedges, vinaigrette, cocktail sauce, hot sauce and habenaro hot sauce.  I've had Sunseekers before and they are somewhat similar to kushis except for being slightly larger with a more pronounced pouch.  In terms of flavour, they are a bit more briny in my opinion but equally sweet.  These were fresh and shucked perfectly with no shell fragments.

We also got the happy hour Salt Spring Island Mussels in a white wine, garlic, shallots, lemon and thyme butter.  This also came with frites on top and aioli.  Being SSI mussels, these were plump and decently large.  They were cooked beautifully being delicate and still juicy.  Nice brininess and natural sweetness accented by the properly cooked-down white wine broth.  I would've liked a bit more salt in the broth, but it wasn't a deal-breaker.  Crispy frites too.

Everything was served on a platter (they tend to do that here) and here we see the Crab Cakes as well as the Seared Scallops.  Although the crab cakes were filled with mostly crab with little filler, they were quite dense.  Even the breading was dense and heavy.  I did like the flavour though as it was full of crab essence and sweetness.  As for the scallops, they were good with a nice sear while still being tender.  They were well-seasoned and the pea puree was a nice compliment.  I also enjoyed the smokiness of the bacon with the crunchy cabbage.

Lastly, we had the Sablefish Risotto with lemon, broccolini and mushrooms.  Featuring crispy skin, the sablefish was beautifully buttery and moist.  It was properly seasoned too.  Underneath, the risotto was cheesy and perfectly cooked.  It was a tad on the clumpier side (as it didn't spread), but it was still good.  Overall, the food was quite acceptable at Smitty's and the oysters were yum.  I would come back.

The Good:
- Properly shucked fresh oysters
- Proteins cooked right
- The service we got was on point

The Bad:
- On the pricier side, but what isn't these days
- Crab cakes were dense

Fritz European Fry House

I can't even remember the last time I visited Fritz European Fry House.  Sure, there is an old blog post about it, but that wasn't the last time I ate there.  It isn't as if I don't want to re-visit the place, because I I like their frites (or fries, whatever you want to call them).  I'm pretty sure it is under different ownership by now too.  The main reason I haven't been back is that I do not live in Downtown anymore and frankly, there is not much space in there to eat the frites and/or poutine fresh.  I personally do not like eating my poutine while walking nor do I want to take it somewhere far where it will get cold and extra soggy.  However, I was staying within a block away due to a conference and it was the perfect opportunity to pick up a late night snack and have it still piping hot in my hotel room.

So yes, I got myself a medium-sized Bacon Poutine.  I gotta say, this was one fine poutine with plenty of crispy frites topped with a considerable amount of cheese curds.  Throw in a boatload of crumbled bacon and thick gravy, this was a decadent and sinful treat.  I thought the gravy had a nice consistency and was plenty flavourful.  The melted cheese curds were stringy and was evident in each bite.  I didn't remember it to be this good, but am glad I got to have it again.

Of course I also had to get some Frites and I went big with the large size.  Yah, that was a huge cone of some crispy frites that were full of potato goodness inside.  The best thing about these frites was that they were not too thin where they would merely be crisps and not too thick where it would be too dense. Seeing that this was less than 5 minutes from the time I received them, they were still hot and fresh. 

Naturally, I wasn't about to dip these into ketchup (nothing wrong with though), so I went for a couple of dips including Garlic Lovers and Chipotle Mayo.  Being the classic accompaniment, the garlic aioli was creamy and aromatic.  This is my personal fav.  However, the chipotle mayo was pretty good too with some heat and smokiness.  Now this post is a bit short, but since they only have these 2 menu items (poutine can have different toppings though) and no hot dogs available at the moment, this is all I could order.  This is also all I could eat too!  Still good to me and if I have the chance to eat it again, I will!

The Good:
- Solid frites
- Equally good poutine
- Open late

The Bad:
- Nowhere to eat them other than walking around, which is okay for the frites on a nice day


Menya Itto

I was hoping to visit Menya Itto when it first opened but really, I'm not all that into lining up for food these days.  So I let the initial hype die down and waited for a weekday before heading down to try the place.  The location on Robson Street (formerly Ramen Koika) happens to be their first Canadian location.  They are known for their Tsukemen, or dipping noodles, yet they also feature a good selection of soup ramen as well.

Of course we had to get their signature item in the Menya Itto Chashu Tsukemen with shiso infused crunchy textured chicken balls, pork belly chashu and thick housemade noodles.  This also included a pot of clear broth to dilute the remaining dipping soup once we were done.  As for the noodles, they were perfectly al dente with a pleasing chew.  The signature broth was silky with plenty of collagen.  It was flavourful with meaty depth.

We also tried the Classic Noko Gyokai Ramen with the spicy option. This was not quite Ramen Danbo, but still pretty solid.  The chicken broth was silky and creamy, yet not so much that it was too heavy.  The spice came through, but we could've done even spicier.  Juicy and tender, the two slices of chicken chashu was some of the best I've ever had.  The thin noodles were still chewy while cooked through.  Also added the Ajitsuke Tamago and it was excellent having a custardy yolk while being nicely flavoured without being salty.

We went big with the last dish in the Lobster Ramen with a full lobster tail, nori, half ramen egg, menna, corn and chashu.  I thought the broth was excellent almost akin to a lobster bisque (without the cream of course).  It was rich and had all of the appealing aroma and essence of lobster.  The lobster tail was perfectly cooked having a moist rebound and sweetness.  The slice of chashu was super tender and required no chewing.  Overall, the ramen dishes we tried at Menya Itto were solid with the lobster ramen really standing out.  There is a lot of competition for you ramen dollar in Vancity, so I would say there are plenty of other places to try at this price point.  However, Menya Itto belongs in that conversation.

The Good:
- Rich silky broth that isn't too heavy
- On point noodles
- Spacious

The Bad:

- A little on the pricier end, but on par with many other places in Downtown

Little Cafe on Robson

If you have been on IG or any other social media platform lately, you've probably seen the Supreme Croissants from Little Cafe on Robson.  For those who haven't come across these croissants, think a tightly-wound croissant scroll with flavoured filling and topping.  Now they are more than croissant scrolls though as there are sandwiches as well as hot beverages.  I was able to make it out there earlier enough to try some of their wares since they do sell out later in the day.

Behold, we have the Supreme Croissant in its Mont Blanc form with sweet chestnut cream on top and in the middle.  A roasted chestnut and gold flakes adorn the top of the croissant.  As it appears in the picture, the croissant was crunchy and firm on the outside and soft on the inside.  Beyond the sweetness of the chestnut cream, the outside of the croissant featured a sweet crunchiness.  This thing was pretty large, so sharing it is the best way to go.

I also tried their Blueberry Lavender Supreme Croissant and beyond having the same aforementioned qualities as the Mont Blanc, it was actually sweeter.  I found the blueberry cream to have more sugariness especially combined with the sweet exterior.  Of course it was fruity due to the blueberries, while the lavender added a floral component.  For myself, I prefer fruity things, so this was right up my alley.

Now they have savoury items as well including the Breakfast Supreme with a supreme croissant cut into halves, baked omelette, bacon, cheddar, arugula, tomato, pickled peppers and in this case, ham.  I really enjoyed this as the croissant was crunchy and shattered beautifully.  There was so much ham and crispy bacon that this was super-filling.  This also can easily be shared due to its size.  So while I was at Little Cafe, there was a steady stream of customers snapping up the Supreme Croissants and I can see why they sell out quickly.  Better go early so to not be disappointed.

*All food and beverages were complimentary*

The Good:
- Everything is large here, so yes, prices aren't cheap, but you get a lot
- Crunchy croissants that shatter
- That breakfast croissant is equally good

The Bad:
- Sells out early, need to go early
- It is indeed a little cafe, limited seating 

Seaport City

For awhile there, especially during the pandemic (I guess it isn't really over, but you get the idea), there was a lack of new restaurants.  Business was tough and opening a new spot would've been probably not the best idea.  This also true for Chinese restaurants as many of the existing ones were struggling to survive.  Now that things are seemingly better, we find a few new spots popping up here and there including the brand-spanking new Seaport City.  It takes over the old Milestone's location above Whole Foods on Cambie at 8th.  They serve up Cantonese-style dim sum but for dinner they offer a rarity in Vancouver - Chiu Chow cuisine.  We ended up trying their Dim Sum service first.

With designated parking spots below and a dedicated elevator straight to the restaurant, Seaport City does offer up a convenient setup.  After looking over their menu, we ordered some items including the Crispy Prawn Rice Noodle Rolls. As you can see in the picture, the rice noodle was a tad too thick.  However, it was quite soft and delicate.  There was an absence of elasticity though.  Inside, the crispiness of the coating was a nice textural contrast to the overly soft rice noodle.  The prawns were meaty and cooked just right with a fresh snap.

For some reason, they did not specify the type of Spring Rolls on the menu.  So I'm happy to report they were the garlic shrimp variety.  I much prefer this over the pork and/or vegetarian one.  These were prepared well with a crunchy wrapper that was not overly greasy.  Inside, the shrimp were well-seasoned and nicely textured being moist with a rebound.

It seemed like we go all the shrimp/prawn items first and that continued with the Ha Gau (Steamed Prawn Dumplings).  Like the rice noodle roll, the dumpling skin on these were on the thicker side and slightly gummy.  They weren't terrible, but it definitely lags behind the better versions in town.  With that being said, there was some good elasticity though.  Inside, the prawn filling was good though with large buttery bouncy pieces.

One thing we do not see very often on Dim Sum menus these days is the Taro Cake (usually daikon radish cake instead).  They had it here and we were more than happy to order it.  However, it wasn't very good though. There was far too many pieces of dry taro and not enough pudding cake.  Hence the whole thing was powdery and mealy.  We had a hard time eating it without drinking lots of tea.

Coincidentally, the next item to show up was the Wu Gock (Deep Fried Taro Dumplings).  3 shrimp, then 2 taro dishes, interesting.  Anyways, these were good with a thin creamy layer of taro (love that lard in there..) with a crunchy exterior.  Beyond the lard and the deep-fry, the dumpling wasn't actually that greasy. Inside, the minced pork filling was tender and moist.  It could've used a bit more seasoning though.

Funnily enough, the Steamed Chicken Feet also had a base of taro underneath.  3 taro dishes in a row!  I digress...  This was actually very good with plump chicken feet that were larger than most I've had recently.  Hence, there was plenty of tender skin and cartilage.  Sauce was good too where it was the right viscosity, therefore clinging onto each foot perfectly.  It was sweet and garlicky with a light kick.

Staying with the offal theme, whenever it is on the menu, I always go for the Steamed Beef Tendon and Tripe.  This was also quite good with sliced tendon that was was soft, yet not completely melting away.  The big pieces of honeycomb tripe were also tender with an appealing chewiness.  Once again, the sauce was a nice consistency and quite similar to the one with the chicken feet being sweet and savoury with a slight kick.

Another one of my favourites is the Bean Curd Wraps and the one here was just alright.  I thought the bean curd skin was a little soft and lacked the fried chewiness that is the hallmark of this dish.  However, the biggest issue was the lack of filling as each roll ate very loose and did not have much substance.  It felt like we were eating only bean curd skin.  For the small amount of filling inside, it was tender though.

Now to one of the best dishes, the Steamed Pork Spareribs were excellent.  Practically all of the pieces were meaty and the desirable rib portions.  Very little cartilage and fat which meant more of the dish that could be eaten.  Now this may have been the luck of the draw though.  The texture of the meat was perfectly bouncy and tender.  Flavours were on point with plenty of garlic, slight pepperiness and savouriness.

Continuing on with good dishes, the Steamed Beef Meatballs were textbook.  That meant that the meatballs were fluffy and airy while still having some meat texture left.  I've made these before and the way you must process the meat, in order it to be perfect, rides the fine line of being too chewy or too mushy.  This was perfect.  In terms of seasoning, it was pretty mild as usual with some sweetness and bitterness from the tangerine peel.  It is intentional though, because you would typically dip it into Worcestershire anyways.

Although the Scallop & Shrimp Siu Mai looked extremely pale and unappetizing, they were actually quite good.  Maybe they should've put some tobiko, carrot and/or salted egg yolk on the top for colour.  In terms of texture, these were a bit lighter than usual due to the ingredients.  The scallop and shrimp did have textural contrast, but the result was fluffy and airy.  I personally loved the taste as they were sweet and seafoody.
For our bigger item, we went for the Stir-Fried Udon with Chicken and Egg.  This was a massive portion size of chewy udon that was moist from the perfect amount of sauce/oil.  There was equal parts of ingredients from the texturally appealing wok fried egg to the shredded dark meat chicken.  Crunchy cabbage and carrots rounded out the textures.  Flavourwise, it was mild, but still had enough for some background sweetness.

On the topic of sweet, we had the Salted Egg Yolk Bun which came in a shade of purple.  I assume there was some taro in the bun for it to be that colour.  As for its texture, the bun was fluffy with a somewhat firmer exterior.  It held in the liquid egg yolk center beautifully for it to be leaking out once cracked open.  That liquid gold was sweet with the unmistakable saltiness of the egg yolk.  As usual, it got a bit messy since for the picture, I split it open.
For the next item, I wouldn't necessarily classify it as a dessert, but we ordered it as such anyways.  The Baked BBQ Pastries were one of the best things we ate.  The pastry itself was flaky and buttery while not being heavy.  Inside, the lean pork filling was predictably sweet (so it is a dessert then?) with just enough savoury elements.  The addition of lemon really helped perk things up.

Lastly, we had the Deep Fried Egg Fritters with honey.  This was a fairly large portion of crispy and airy egg dough fritters.  They were not greasy at all and had just enough honey for effect without making them too sweet.  Some shaved almond completed the dish.  Overall, we didn't mind the Dim Sum at Seaport City where the dining room was spacious and well-appointed.  Service was quite good and the free parking downstairs made things convenient.  I realize that we went during their soft opening, but some dishes could use some tweaks.  But they were fairly minor issues.

The Good:
- Decent eats
- Attentive service
- Nice dining space

The Bad:
- Parking is free, but only for 2 hours, should be longer
- There is no real place to wait for a table (unless you wait downstairs in the parking lot), so it gets a bit crowded near the elevator and entrance


When it first opened, I had visited Sooda, even before they had removed all of the previous "Firepots" table burners.  Since I was with only one other person, we ordered the Sooda dakgalbi (that big hotplate of rice) and one more dish.  I never blogged about it because that was not representative of their whole menu.  I did enjoy the rice, despite it costing like $40.00.  It took me until recently to visit it again with my family (more people = more food!).

So before we got to our dishes, we had some of the complimentary Banchan including cabbage and onion salad, cabbage kimchi and seaweed salad.  These were fine where the kimchi was very lightly dressed.  Not the typical version, but okay.  We actually started with some Honey Butter Korean Fried Chicken consisting of chicken wings.  I found the batter to be lightly crunchy and sauced enough.  However, the skin wasn't rendered enough.  The meat was tender and juicy though.

One of their signature items is their Sooda Box, so we ordered the full 46cm version.  This featured premium Korean steak tartar atop boxed sushi rice.  It was drizzled with spicy aioli and then torched.  A slice of jalapeno graced each piece.  This was really good witch chewy rice and buttery tender beef.  Lots of spice and spiciness to go around.  We didn't stop there and also got the full Cheese Sooda Box with melted and torched mozzarella on top.  We enjoyed this one very much since they didn't skimp on the cheese.  Much more rich and heavier than the regular sooda box.

We also had some Korean BBQ in the form of Beef Belly and Pork Jowl.  This was a reasonable amount of quality meat for the price.  Using their induction burners (that replaced the old firepots branded ones), the BBQ got hot enough for searing.  Hence, the meats came out well and were tender.  The pork jowl had the usual rebound texture.  As for the fatty beef belly, it was soft and buttery.  Not bad for a place that doesn't specialize in Korean BBQ.

Lastly, we had the Sweet Pork Ribs with Mozza.  The description said it all where the ribs were fall-off-the-bone while maintaining a meatiness.  They were sauced with sweet soy.  The side of melted bubbling mozzarella was a cheesy accompaniment to the pork.  Rather heavy dish, but it is meant to be shared anyways.  So I didn't get to order the rice again since we had enough food and also there was not enough table space either.  I can confirm it is a large order best shared by more than 2 people.  For the rest of the food we had, it was more than acceptable and I can see why the place is busy.  Things aren't exactly cheap, but portions make up for it.

The Good:
- Some unique dishes
- Fairly large portions
- That Sooda Box is a must order

The Bad:
- Prices are on the higher side, especially for the signature items (but portions are large)
- Place gets busy and you will need to lineup

Afghan Kitchen

Here I am out in South Surrey again visiting one of my favourite restaurants - Afghan Kitchen.  I've actually been here a half-dozen times but have only blogged about it once.  I had an updated post planned for last year, but never got around to writing it.  This time around, I was invited for a tasting along with Vic & Winnie, Alex & Jen and Craig.  So why is this one of my favourite spots?  Well, the food is really flavourful and well-prepared.  Most importantly, I think you get good value for the money (prices are not cheap, but you get a tonne of food) and the people are nice too (even before this tasting!).

One of their tastiest items in my opinion is the classic Bolani.  This stuffed-Afghani flatbread is crispy and nutty on the outside while giving way to light chewiness and then pillowy softness.  Inside, the delicate potatoes are seasoned well with herbs and spices.  In particular, the cumin and black pepper stand out giving an earthy pepperiness.  Found on the side is Afghan chutney and yogurt.  Good combination of some spice cooled down with the whipped yogurt.

Another simple, yet delicious item is the Pakawras that resemble large potato chips.  Yah, nothing complex about that, yet these thinly-sliced potatoes are coated with a spiced batter that is super crunchy.  Not only that, but they are not very greasy either.  The chips alone are plenty tasty by themselves, but add in the same fluffy spiced yogurt, then we have a cooling dip that offers up creaminess and flavour too.

Sneakily, the Afghan Chicken Nuggets are one of the best appies on the menu.  So what makes these different than any other chicken nugget?  Well, once again, it is all about the spiced batter.  It is aggressively crunchy and nicely seasoned.  Also, they use white meat that stays tender and moist (which is not always a given).  Just like the previous dishes, this came with the whipped yogurt as well as the chutney.

Drizzled with beet vinaigrette, the deep fried Brussels Sprouts will make believers out of those who don't like Brussels sprouts.  Similar to many versions out there, the sprouts are fried until crispy.  This ensures the usual mushy texture and odd flavour of Brussels sprouts are eliminated.  Completing the dish is roasted red pepper hummus that adds creamy sweetness.

Another one of my favourite dishes at Afghan Kitchen is the Mantu stuffed with minced beef and onions.  Love the texture of the dumpling wrapper as it is chewy, yet tender with appealing elasticity.  The meat is tender while the diced onions add sweetness and texture.  Each dumpling is topped with split peas, tomato sauce and yogurt.  The result is tanginess, creaminess and bite from the split peas.

There are plenty of share platters to choose from (and I've had a few of them), but we went with the KBL to YVR Platter.  This includes chicken kebab, potato, eggplant, spinach, Afghan rice and lamb shank (in the next picture).  This is actually for 2 people and if you add the lamb shank, this is a lot of food.  Now it is also tasty with tender nuggets of white meat chicken, buttery soft eggplant and spinach as well as soft spiced potatoes.  Heck, even the rice is excellent being chewy and nutty with sweet raisins and carrots.

Now about that Lamb Shank, it is fairly large and sits in a fragrant and aromatic tomato-based gravy.  Definitely can pick the earthiness of the spices including the usual cumin.  Naturally, this goes well with the rice where the raisins and carrots pair well with the spices.  As for the lamb itself, it is cooked beautifully where the meat falls off the bone and is uniformly tender and gelatinous.  Another one of my favs here.

Sticking with the same type of meat, the Lamb Shoulder offers up a completely different texture experience.  Unlike the fall-off-the-bone shank, the meat here is more robust and firm.  However, since it is roasted and then seared, there is caramelization and smokiness.  Much more depth and meatiness.  With 2 pieces of lamb shoulder, this dish would be enough for more than one person.

Moving away from lamb, their Afghan Chicken is also quite good.  It features 2 bone-in chicken legs that are cooked until they fall off the bone.  The garlic tomato gravy penetrates the meat offering up sweetness and tanginess.  For me, the trick is to shred the tender chicken and mix it with the gravy and then add it to rice.  Normally, chicken is pretty neutral-tasting, but this one is full-flavoured and rich.

For dessert, we shared a selection of Mum's Secret, Shir Yakh and Firni.  Essentially a sponge cake, mum's secret is moist and lightly-sweet.  However, when doused with the sweet milk, then things are amped up. The shir yakh or Afghan ice cream is super creamy and rich.  It also helps that they top it with dense cream and pistachios.It was aromatic and sweet with richness and creaminess.  The firni resembles a panna cotta in terms of texture and this one is mildly-sweet with the flavour of cardamom.  So once again, I had an excellent meal at Afghan Kitchen.  The food is always plentiful and delicious.  I just wished it was located closer to me!

*All food and beverages were complimentary*

The Good:
- Solid eats
- Good portions
- Friendly service

The Bad:
- Best to come with friends, sharing is better than trying to order one plate for yourself
- Prices aren't cheap, but portions are large

Search this Site