Sherman's Food Adventures: September 2023

House of Chicken

So here we go back-to-back-to-back with fried chicken blog posts.  This is, in fact, the chronological order of when these visits happened.  Therefore, this wasn't the best week for my health, but it was quite the joy to devour though!  The trifecta of fried chicken ended up at House of Chicken along Scott Road in North Delta.  I've been here before and not only is the food delicious, it is affordable.   This would not be a small detail these days with severely high food prices.  We came back to try some more new items as well as getting a sneak peak of their $13.99 AYCE brunch (yes, really!).

One of the new items is their Fish & Chips that featured an enormous piece of fish that was literally the entire filet.  Essentially, it was half of a medium-sized fish!  This was coated in their crunchy, yet not heavy batter.  Inside of that, the fish was juicy and super flaky.  Would've enjoyed some basic tartar with it though, instead we got some type of tangy mayo.  The side of fries were the starch-covered variety and fried until super crispy, but not overly greasy.

Of course we couldn't ignore their awesome chicken sammies including the Nashville Hot Chicken and the Mega Crunch.  Served on a brioche bun, the Nashville featured a good-sized chicken breast that was moist while sporting their crunchy batter.  There was some mild spiciness from the mayo while tangy crunch from the pickles and coleslaw.  Featuring 2 large fried chicken thighs, the Mega Crunch could feed 2 people with smaller appetites.  Also juicy with more chicken flavour (due to the dark meat), the sandwich ate with plenty of texture.  We also tried the Karachi Bun Kebab with a ground beef mashed lentil patty, egg, onion and mint sauce.  To me, this ate like a breakfast sammie.  The patty had the unmistakable soft texture of cooked lentils.  The egg was fluffy and light. 

If the sammies were a big part of the menu, the Crispy Fried Chicken was mandatory.  We also had the Tandoori Chicken to compare.  We got both in regular and spicy (pictures here are of the spicy fried chicken and regular tandoori chicken).  As expected, the dark meat fried chicken was juicy while the batter was crunchy with rendered skin.  I found the spicy to be only mildly so in both the fried and tandoori chicken.  As for the tandoori, it was not as juicy as the fried chicken, but it did have fully rendered skin.

Being Indian-run, the restaurant also features a selection of Indian eats.  We ended up ordering the Fish Pakora featuring large nuggets of fish that were only lightly coated with batter.  Hence the texture of the flaky fish was more prominent.  With intermittent batter on the outside, there was a nice contrast of crispiness and soft fish.  It was nicely spice where we got the usual pakora flavours without it being too overwhelming.

Possibly our favourite dish of the meal had nothing to do with fried chicken.  It was actually the Goat Karahi.  This was a fairly large portion that was served with a side of Naan.  The pieces of goat were soft and tender with its unmistakable gelatinous quality.  The flavours were rich and full-of-depth from the garam masala that gave this comforting Fall-flavours.  The ginger also was quite apparent in this dish.

Our last Indian dish was the massive portion of Chicken Biryani.  This was also good with large chunks of chicken hidden within.  They were tender with a noted level of spice.  The basmati rice was nutty and chewy while still cooked through.  For $16.99, this was a considerable portion and combined with some curry and fried chicken, this could easily feed a family of 4 for under $50.00.

They also brought out selection of items for us to sample that are part of the Buffet Brunch for $13.99.  No that is not a typo...  All the Fried Chicken, Fries, Naan, Basmati Rice, Murgh Chanay, Beef Nihari, Chai and Gajar Halwa that you can eat for $13.99 on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00am to 3:00pm.  You already know that the chicken is good, but the curries are on point too.  I'm not surprised they are offering such an inexpensive brunch because their whole menu is a good value.  There is actually somewhere you can go dine-out and not break the bank.  Oh, and it helps the food is delicious and well-portioned too.

*This meal was complimentary for this blog post*

The Good:
- Inexpensive
- Large portions
- Delicious

The Bad:
- Tandoori chicken could be juicier

Qube Lebanese Cuisine

To be completely blunt, I was torn as to if and how I would write this post about my visit to Qube Lebanese Cuisine. Would I be vague and not say what is truly on my mind or should I just let it all out?  After weeks of going back and forth, I've decided to report what I know, what I'm afraid of and how the meal went according to me (and not influenced by outside noise).  So what is this outside noise you speak of?  Well, originally, Qube had a very different menu and direction.  However, they change chefs and the menu was reworked.  There has been a bit of drama relating to this and I will not personally get into it because it doesn't involve me or do I really know the actual story.  All I can say is I will report what I ate and what I thought of it.  Am I a bit worried about any backlash?  Well of course.  However, I cannot judge that as I mentioned, I'm not involved.  Also, this is a warning to any trolls out there.  If you want to leave messages about this, I'm deleting them because I will not be part of the drama.  It is between you and the restaurant.  Period.

Okay getting back to my visit...  So if you recognize the storefront in the picture, you will know that Qube took over the old location of the original Trattoria on West 4th.  The decor inside is nice and it has a prominent bar.  As such, we tried some of their Drinks including QV, QII, QI and QIV.  I'm not going to get into all of them since I tried maybe 2, but l can say I loved the glasses and the presentation.  For the ones I did try, they were balanced and not too strong so that I could taste the rest of the components.

Onto the food, we were served a selection of appies including the Tuna Tartare with avocado puree, tuna, ponzu, shallots and chives.  This featured fresh albacore tuna that was buttery and soft.  It was dressed enough so that there was some salty tanginess from the ponzu.  I would've liked just a bit more acidity, but it was still fine as it was.  Avocado underneath was ripe and creamy providing a nice binding agent when mixed with the tuna.

We also had a duo of Hummus with the first being the classic version tahina and the second, being avocado hummus.  These were blended smooth where the tahini was noticeable in the classic version.  Good quality EVOO added some aroma and silkiness to the hummus.  The avocado was mild-tasting but rich.  To give both a bit of custom acidity, there was a half-lime on the plate.  This was served with house bread.

To keep the house bread from going too far with any dips, we had 2 more in the form of Moutabal and Labneh.  Much like the hummus, these two were on point in terms of texture and taste.  The moutabal consisted of roasted eggplant, garlic, tahini and lemon juice.  Hence, there was a bit of smokiness, plenty of tanginess and aroma.  It was smooth and creamy.  Thick and also creamy, the labneh featured strained yogurt, Himalayan salt and smoked olive oil.  As a result, there was also smokiness as well as a certain silkiness.

So we continued on with our appies with House Grape Leaves stuffed with rice, tomato, parsley and lime juice as well as Makdous featuring oil-aged eggplant filled with walnuts and red peppers atop labneh.  Being house-made, the stuffed grape leaves were bright and delicate.  Definitely enough acidity within the rice and tomato mixture.  That was even more pronounced with the tender eggplant.  They were very tangy with a bit of sweetness from the red peppers.

One of my favourite items was the Homemade Lebanese Sausages sauteed with onion, garlic, lemon, cherry tomatoes and pomegranate.  These were meaty with enough fat to create plenty of aromatics as well as keeping the sausage moist.  There was a good combination of tanginess and spice.  On the topic of tangy, the minted yogurt in the Shish Barak was plenty acidic (maybe a bit too sour).  Good thing too as it kept the heaviness of the dough in check.  It was filled with wagyu beef, onions and herbs.

We moved onto a pair of fish plates including the Salmon Lemoni and BC Halibut.  I found the salmon to be prepared properly being moist and flaky with crispy skin.  Like most of their other dishes, the acidity from the sauce was pronounced and it was further amped by the sundried tomatoes, artichokes and capers.  As for the halibut, it was buttery and soft where it was topped with a nutty tahini sauce and sat on a bed of roasted walnut and pepper emulsion.

The next dish featured Chops 2 Way with one each lamb chop and venison chop.  The larger venison chop was cooked nicely being medium inside, hence the meat was not dry.  However, the accompanying lamb chop was well-done.  At the very least, it was fattier and still ate tender.  The chimicuhurri was bright and helped lighten the heaviness of the meats.  I found this plate to be clunky in terms of plating though.

Our last 2 savoury items consisted of the Basterma Handheld and the Seared Lamb Belly.  Sporting Lebanese air-dried meat, house pickles, house mayo, tomato, Dijon and melted raclette on brioche, this was a tad hard to eat due to the chewiness of the meat.  However, it did taste good with the combination of ingredients as we got salty, tangy and nutty.  I really enjoyed the lamb belly as it was fatty and tender in only lamb can be.  It was seared well with a smoky caramelization.   Like most of the other dishes, the plating was a bit basic.

For dessert, we were served different forms of Baklava and house vanilla ice cream.  One of the few things not made in-house, the baklava was excellent.  The crispy layers of phyllo were light and blessed with enough sweetness that wasn't overwhelming.  Of course we also had the nuttiness of the pistachios.  Ice cream was quite good being creamy and purposefully sweet.  Overall, the food was not bad with some real highlights.  I do think the plating needs some work and possibly the portion sizes for the larger plates might need to be re-evaluated.

*This post features complimentary food and beverages*

The Good:
- Interesting food as Lebanese isn't too common in Vancouver
- Nice dining space
- Appealing cocktails

The Bad:
- Plating needs work
- Portion sizes for the larger dishes are inconsistent

Le Coq Frit

I'm sure you might be shocked that with my fried chicken sandwich obsession, I would've visited Le Coq Frit already.  Well, if you follow my IG account: @shermaneatschickensandwiches you will know that I haven't updated in awhile despite indulging in chicken sandwiches including Howlin' Rays in LA.  I guess I will have to update the account now since Le Coq Frit decided to have me in to try their chicken sandwich!

Now about that sandwich, we were served the Signature Spicy Chicken Burger with coleslaw, pickles and house sauce on brioche.  As you can see, this was an enormous chicken breast that we found was moist and coated with a light crunchy batter.  It was completely sauce where it was mildly spicy with balancing sweetness and some tang.  The coleslaw was crunchy and not very acidic, yet the pickles made up for that.  The use of brioche was a good choice as the bun conformed to the shape of the chicken breast and held things together.  Solid chicken sammie!

We can't forget the sides either as the burger comes with fries, but there are options for yam fries and in this case, Onion Rings.   I'm talking about these separately because they were really good.  The batter was fairly thin and was uniformly crunchy (and cooked through).  Inside, the onion was tender, yet not completely melted away.  Hence, we got the natural sweetness with a mild sharpness.  Didn't even need to dip it into sauce as it was good on its own.

Beyond this, the Chicken & Waffles was equally good.  This featured the Original Black Coq Frit dressed in honey garlic and soy sauce.  These large pieces of deep-fried chicken thighs were absolute money.  Juicy and tender, they were coated with a light batter than was crunchy and featured rendered skin.  The flavours were apparent and appealing with the sweetness of the honey balanced by the soy sauce.  Crispy garlic added crunch and aromatics.  The croffles on the side were crispy, flaky and light.  They were an excellent compliment to the chicken as they weren't heavy.

Our last item was the Chicken Salad with fried chicken tenders, mixed greens and house dressing. Nothing really complex about this one, but completely welcomed as we were able to get some greens.  Dressing was tangy and sweet while the chicken was tender with a crunchy batter.  Overall, I enjoyed the food at Le Coq Frit as their sammie was solid as well as their KFC.  Loved their croffle too.  Great place to grab some takeout if you were in the mood for fried chicken.

*All food and bevvies were complimentary for this post*

The Good:
- Properly fried chicken (crunchy while still tender inside)
- Competitive spicy fried chicken sammie
- Nice people

The Bad:
- Truly takeout, only a few counter seats  

Nene Chicken

Even since I first tried Nene Chicken, I've considered it one of the best places to grab some KFC (Korean Fried Chicken).  To prove my point, I've actually gotten takeout from them several times on my own coin!  With so many options for KFC, this is the first place I would go for it in the GVRD.  Now their Downtown location on Davie has added a few new items including Korean dishes to compliment their KFC and chicken burgers.  I was invited to try some of these just before heading to Le Coq Frit!  Double KFC day!

To get an overview of their KFC, we were served the Boneless Double Double Chicken featuring Swicy, CreamyOn, Soy Garlic and Snowing Cheese.  We added the fries on the side for good measure.  These big nuggets of leg meat were juicy and buttery while coated with a crispy batter.  My personal fav was the soy garlic with its sweet and sticky garlicky sauce.  Can't go wrong with the swicy as it had a kick and sweetness.  Totally covered in cheese powder, the snowing cheese was the crunchiest and plenty cheesy.  Finally, the creamyon was topped with onions and sweet mayo.  It was a combination of sharpness and creaminess.

One of their new items completely caught me by surprise.  The Magic Tofu Dice in soy garlic was so delicious!  It featured diced nuggets of medium-firm tofu that were coated and deep-fried.  Then they were sauced with soy garlic and topped with green onion.  Crispy and light, the tofu were great on their own, but the soy garlic added the tangy sweet and salty flavour that was addicting.  I would totally order these the next time I'm a Nene.

Onto some Korean dishes, we had the Rose Tteok Bok Ki that came as a pretty large portion.  It featured tender pieces of Korean rice cake that still had a bite, but were not that heavy.  They were sitting in a rose sauce that was plenty cheesy.  This would've been great on pasta, let alone rice cake.  But in reality, it ate like a Korean pasta due to the rice cake.  It was creamy with some spice and tang with the stringiness of the ample cheese.

Our last dish was the Nene Kimchi Hot Pot served with Korean black rice (but is really purple when cooked).  This was tangy and spicy with background sweetness.  We spooned the broth onto the rice and it soaked up all the goodness.  Due to the robust texture of the rice, it stood up to the moisture.  Furthermore, the little nuggets of pork really added depth and texture to the dish.  As expected, the KFC at Nene was excellent, but the Korean dishes were definitely a surprise.  Loved them all and was not expecting such items on the menu.  Completely changes the experience at Nene with more options other than chicken.

*This visit was complimentary*

The Good:
- Juicy pieces of KFC with equally tasty flavours
- Didn't eat the burgers this time, but they are good too!
- Surprising new Korean dishes

The Bad:
- As with anything these days, prices can get up there


The burger scene in Vancity can only be described as "adequate".  Sure, you can grab some pretty good burgers here but I find the selection limited.  Between 2 Buns has always been a favourite of mine and unfortunately, Sirius Cravings is closing down at the end of the month (September 2023).  Of course there have been some great one-hit wonders that have come and gone (such as the Dirty Burger at Upstairs @Campagnolo).  The Pourhouse still serves up a great burger, so there are options.  However, we need more!  Well, let's welcome the latest entry from the Kitchen Table Restaurant Group with Monzo at Vancouver House.  With modern retro decor and an Italian flair, Monzo intends to capture the fancy of the gourmet burger crowd.  I was invited for a sneak peak of their menu.

I started off with their 16oz Chocolate Milkshake sporting premium Motoretta soft-serve and whole milk.  The result was a noticeable rich thickness that was creamy but still completely drinkable.  It was chocolatey and sweet but not overly sweet.  Being a fairly large size, the milkshake was quite filling by itself.  I tried to be conservative and not spoil my appetite, but it was so good, I ended up downing the entire thing!

For my choice of burger, I had the Bacon Double Cheeseburger with diced onions, sour pickles, American cheese and burger sauce.  Those smashed patties were cooked to perfection with crispy edges while still moist in the middle.  Even the cheese sported a crispy skirt.  The crispiness was further elevated by the bacon.  This was nicely balanced off by the soft toasted brioche bun.  Solid burger.

Being greedy, I also had the Chicken Milano Sandwich featuring the biggest house-made chicken cutlet you would ever see between a sesame brioche bun.  There was enough meat to do 2 sandwiches!  This was one crunchy cutlet with garlic aioli, parmigiano and arugula.  I felt the flattened chicken breast was not exactly juicy, but the ample aioli and cheese did help add moisture.  The sandwich ate quite well as a whole though.

The Bacon Double Cheeseburger was definitely delicious, but the King Monzo only helped amp things up with the addition of lettuce and tomato minus the bacon.  We found a sesame brioche bun subbing in for the regular one.  Now with the pickles and burger sauce as well as the American cheese, this had some Big Mac vibes but with higher quality meat that was moist with the same crispy edges.

Taking it another step up from the Bacon Double Cheeseburgers, The Wrangler added house BBQ sauce, aioli, charred onions, Swiss cheese and spicy pickled jalapeños.  There was the same crispy edge patties and also crispy bacon, but the addition of tangy sweet and smoky BBQ sauce provided layers of flavour.  Charred onions were caramelized and the jalapeños provided tangy spice.  Lots of flavour in this one.

Onto the sides, we got an order of Chicken Strips (choice of 3 or 5).  These were fairly large and featured juicy breast meat coated in a thin crunchy batter.   There was a choice of dips and we ended up with the honey mustard.  Personally, I would've liked to see something other than Heinz though.  Despite that, the chicken strips were solid and I'm sure they were on the menu to provide an option for those not wanting a burger (especially kiddos).

Of course we had to try the 2 main sides in the Beef Fat Fries and the Onion Rings.  I found the fries to be pretty good being crispy while enough soft potato texture left inside.  Naturally, being fried in beef fat, there was good aroma.  However, the star of the show was the onion rings as the batter was uniformly crunchy with tender sweet onions inside.  They tasted great on their own with any ketchup.

Onto dessert, we tried their Hand Pies fried in, of course, beef fat.  They were stuffed with apple and coated with cinnamon sugar on the outside.  So this was a sweet concoction, but interestingly, there was a real kick.  It felt if there was some chili powder in the mix.  Overall, I was rather happy with my meal at Monzo.  Burgers were good while the sides were solid.  Prices are definitely on the higher end, but unlike typical fast-food joints, things are made from scratch here with high-quality ingredients.

*All food and beverages were complimentary for this post*

The Good:
- Well-prepared burger patties with crispy edges
- Those onion rings
- Loved the high-quality milkshakes

The Bad:
- On the higher end of the pricing spectrum for burgers


Talk about perfect timing.  I had just returned from my 3-week vacay in Europe and really needed excellent Chinese food.  I had been anticipating our dinner service tasting at Shoom since the beginning of August (when I made the plans).  Shoom is actually one of my favourite Cantonese spots in town where they dish up large portions of expertly-prepared plates.  We recently did their late night (Da Laang) menu and that served as only an appetizer of things to come.  I rounded up the foodie fam and we planned to feast!

To start things off, we were served the Fish Maw & Crab Meat Soup.  This featured a starch-thickened broth that had the perfect viscosity where it coated the ceramic spoon but was not clumpy.  The broth was mild with some sweetness and being not overly salty.  There was a bountiful amount of diced fish maw that was slightly on the crunchier side.  Small strands of crab meat were strewn throughout the soup.  Naturally, I did the red vinegar and white pepper thing (makes thing taste even better!).

Next, we had the Appetizer Platter sporting roast suckling pig, sliced pork hock, marinated jellyfish, salt & pepper wok-fried shrimp and marinated woodear mushrooms. Solid dish where the sliced roast pork was fatty and gelatinous.  The crackling was airy and crispy.  Shrimp shells were crispy and edible while coated with plenty of seasoning with some spice.  Sliced pork hock was tender and went well with the spiced vinegar on the side.

Getting down and serious right off the bat, the next plate that hit the table was the Creamy Lobster with Yee Mein.  Loved that there was enough starch-thickened sauce to coat all of the fried lobster as well as the abundance of yee mein underneath.  Sauce was just thick enough and balanced in flavour.  The lobster was springy with its classic sweet brininess.  Although yee mein tends to be soft, this one here was not so much that it couldn't be picked up with chopsticks.

Why not also have the other crustacean as well in the Dry Curry Dungeness Crab?  We were actually served 2 large crabs, so there was more than enough for all of us.  They were fried up where the body meat was slightly crispy while still moist and bouncy underneath.  It was coated in a dry curry mix which also included chilis and plenty of garlic.  The aromatics of this dish were apparent and the seasoning was on point with some spice.

Another classic dish we find in Cantonese restos these days is the Truffle Chicken.  At Shoom, it is similar to other spots but they hand-toss the truffle sauce table side.  Hence, you really do see how much black truffle there put into the dish.  There was no denying the woodsiness of the truffle as well as the tang and saltiness from the filler ingredients (olives and mushrooms) in the sauce.  The chicken itself was free-run and had a tender chewiness as well as gelatinized skin.  It could've used a bit more seasoning beyond the truffle sauce though.

So "The" dish to have at Shoom is their Plum Sauce Pork Chops and after one bite, it was completely confirmed that this rocked.  The manageable-sized slices of pork chop were super crispy despite being coated with sauce.  The meat itself was tender and had a nice rebound texture.  As for the sauce, it was tangy and sweet with the unmistakable essence of black vinegar.  Loved how there was just enough sauce to coat each piece. 

Yet another "must-order" at Shoom is their Broccoli with Egg Whites & Scallops.  Not sure how much more perfect this dish could be as the egg whites were pillowy soft with on point seasoning.  The scallops were tender with a sweet bounce texture.  Loved that they put a raw egg yolk on top to mix into the egg whites.  This added another layer of creamy silkiness.  As for the broccoli, they were seasoned and still crunchy.

Continuing on with the luxuriousness of this meal, we had the Black Pepper Beef with Foie Gras.  The cubes of beef were super tender and coated in a savoury black pepper sauce that was also garlicky and slightly spicy.  The red onion and peppers added some vibrant crunch.  As for the foie, it was cubed, coated and deep-fried.  Hence there was a contrast of crispy and fattiness.

Next dish was a personal request by myself in the Sweet & Sour Pork.  I've always enjoyed the version here and this time was no different.  The cubes of fatty pork were bouncy and juicy.  Just the like the pork chops, the exterior of the pork was crispy despite being coated in sauce.  This time around, I wished there was a bit more sauce, but despite that, it was still flavourful with a balanced sweet tanginess.

Onto some veggies, we had the Stir-Fried Garlic Pea Tips.  This was a huge portion and if you know the vegetable, you need a lot of it to yield such a large dish (it cooks down quite a bit).  The pea tips were fresh being tender with a slight crunch.  They were cooked perfectly where they were wilted but not too soft.  The dish wasn't overly greasy and had enough seasoning as well as garlic.

Our last dish was the Dried Scallop Fried Rice which sported green onion as well as tobiko on top.  Normally, this dish can be pretty plain, but they didn't skimp on the dried scallop (that had been rehydrated, then wok-fried).  Hence, the nutty and chewy rice was the beneficiary of the briny and slightly chewy strands of scallop.  This made each spoonful of rice interesting, full of flavour and also texture.

For dessert, we were served 2 items including the one I chose, Mango Pudding.  Loved the glass jars as they looked rather cute.  In terms of viscosity, the mango pudding was rather light and almost soupy, but I'd rather have that over hard gelatin.  It was lightly sweet and only had a mild mango essence.  So I actually returned to Shoom only a few days later for dinner with the fam (on my own coin) and it was just as good as this meal.  Yet really, I didn't need to reconfirm anything as I have always maintained that Shoom is one of, if not the best, mid-range Cantonese restaurants in town.

*This meal was complimentary*

The Good:
- Solid Cantonese cuisine
- Large portions
- Consistent

The Bad:
- Prices aren't expensive, but definitely mid-range, so it is creeping up to the higher end restos in town

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