Category Archives: Food Review

Fast Food Review: McDonald’s Maple & Bacon Poutine

(This post originally appeared on my food blog, “Let’s Eat Out Once A Week.”)

IMG_0161[1]

I stopped by at McDonald’s wanting to get a salad and hang out for a bit to use their free WiFi,… only to notice their display signs at the till and on their menu board that they were having this “new” Maple & Bacon Poutine.

I’m not sure anymore what’s “new” or what’s recycled at McDonald’s since I don’t keep up with their items, but I did get suckered into wanting to try this poutine. So, scrap the salad idea.

This maple & bacon poutine featured French fries with cheese curds and gravy, along with bacon pieces, maple BBQ sauce, and maple brown sugar. It cost C$4.59 plus tax.

IMG_0162[1]

McDonald’s Maple & Bacon Poutine – C$4.59

The poutine was okay, with plenty of gravy. It was certainly better prepared and better tasting than one of their other ones that I had the previous summer. I think, for me, the thing that stuck out the most was the amount of gravy they put in there. And the price was all right too, less expensive than the specialty poutines that Triple O’s has (their Smokehouse poutine was six bucks plus tax). Oh, I also got a pop too, as McDonald’s was having its summer special with all soft drinks at a buck.

As for the all-important question of whether or not I would have this McDonald’s maple & bacon poutine again… I suppose I would, but the best thing would be to have more salad. That was the original purpose of this trip – until I got suckered in by the in-store advertising. These types of poutines can get addictive so it’s best to not even think about them.

IMG_0166[1]

When: May 2015
What: Maple & Bacon Poutine; pop
Where: McDonald’s
How Much: C$4.59 + C$1.00 (total C$5.87 including tax)

Advertisements

Food Review: Tacofino Taco Bar (Downtown Vancouver)

IMG_0063

Lamb Birria and Fish Taco

It was time for another meetup with Valerie as part of our regular foodie get-together. This time, we picked Tacofino Taco Bar in Gastown on Saturday.

They open at 5 p.m. and when we got there, it was around that time and not busy yet. But soon enough, all of the tables were taken – Tacofino Taco Bar is THAT popular!

Both Valerie and I were impressed by the modern design in the interior. We really weren’t sure what to expect but we found the atmosphere nice and cozy.

IMG_0058

We were served water and handed the menu right after we were seated. After having a few minutes to discuss our ordering strategy, we decided to share a Fish Taco, Lamb Birria, and Salmon Ceviche. Then it was time to sit back and chat as we waited for the food.

IMG_0060

The Salmon Ceviche, according to Valerie, is prepared in a way that the salmon actually isn’t cooked but is marinated in lime juice and served with tortilla chips – and makes for a great appetizer. She was right, as I thought that it tasted delicious.

As for the tacos, we split them so that we could share them!

IMG_0061

IMG_0062

I really liked the lamb birria, as it was really juicy and dripping all over my hands! I wasn’t the only one with that problem, as Valerie also had the same thing happen to her! But she agreed that it was a great taco. As for the fish taco, boy, it was really nice and crunchy. It was served with pacific cod, salsa fresca, and chipotle mayo. I loved it!

Apparently, when Tacofino first opened, it was just a simple food stand in Tofino, BC, and then soon enough a restaurant-style establishment was opened here in Gastown. When you first walk in here at this Gastown location, you see the “Burrito Bar,” which has a different menu and is for takeout. Then you walk through the store – or the “blood alley square” as it’s called – you enter the Taco Bar where we ended up sitting. The “Burrito Bar” is open daily at 11 a.m., but the Taco Bar opens at 5 p.m. Like I said, at the Taco Bar it’s a nice and cozy place to have a conversation with your friends and enjoy some decent food. Valerie and I discussed quite a few interesting things on this evening – we both talked about how we like to be challenged with thought-provoking topics and we roll our eyes when people talk about juvenile pranks and “jokes.” Fun times for sure!

Oh, we then decided to try both items on the dessert menu, the Churros and Lime Curd Vaso. I had some familiarity with churros but not the lime curd vaso, which turned out to be a delicious cake-type dessert that had three layers, including lime at the bottom. It was great.

IMG_0064

IMG_0065

The churros, meanwhile, were these hot little cinnamon donut things that were hollow inside but they tasted nice. It wasn’t too spicy.

It was another great evening of good food, awesome conversation, and just fantastic to catch up. The service was good too – even though it got really packed by 5:30, I thought we got pretty good and attentive service. We didn’t have to wait long for anything. And as far as whether or not we would return again – always the big question when it comes to reviewing food places – both of us figured we would. Tacofino Taco Bar is a definite winner!

When: Saturday, April 11, 2015
What: Fish Taco (C$6), Lamb Birria (C$7), Salmon Ceviche (C$10), Churros (C$6), Lime Curd Vaso (C$4).
Where: Tacofino Taco Bar, Blood Alley Square, 15 West Cordova Street, Vancouver, BC, V6B 1C8
How Much: C$16.50 per person (before taxes and tips)

IMG_0066

IMG_0067IMG_0068

Food Review: Gurkha Himalayan Kitchen (Vancouver West End)

(Originally posted on my food review site, “Let’s Eat Out Once a Week.”) 

I’ve worked in several industries before, and have come across many different co-workers. One whom I’ve always respected is Valerie, someone I worked with several years back when I was her supervisor. Because we’d both moved on from that particular organization, we’d mainly kept in touch just online until recently, when we agreed to meet up once in a while as foodie buddies.

IMG_2738[1]

And one Saturday evening recently, Valerie and I checked out Gurkha Himalayan Kitchen on Davie Street in downtown Vancouver. Neither of us had been to Gurkha, which, according to Valerie, has been around for about two years. You can’t actually look into the restaurant when passing by to see what it’s about because it’s not on ground level and you have to walk up a flight of stairs to get to it!

IMG_2740[1]

It was just after 5:00 p.m. – Gurkha is open noon to 2:00 and then 5:00 to 10:00 – so it wasn’t busy yet. We were seated right away and provided with a glass of water each. The setting was nice; it was dimly-lit but bright enough to see the menu and each other. There was a candle on our table too, which is standard for restaurants. After going through the menu for a few moments, Valerie and I decided to order four appetizers to share. We chose the Taas (lamb sautéed in peppers, onions, and spices), the Lollypop Chicken, the Piro Shrimp, and Haku Momo (Tibetan-style steamed veggie dumplings). We were asked how spicy we wanted the food, and we went with “medium.”

During the wait, Valerie and I resumed our conversation. Because Gurkha is a small and cozy place, the table in front of us could probably hear what we were saying, but it was all good. It’s always fun talking to her and I was very happy to hear she’s in a wonderful career right now. These are the types of conversations I enjoy the most because we don’t engage in gossip and she talks about interesting topics (unlike certain other co-workers I’ve worked with, who know nothing except gossip and complaining and negativity). She mentioned learning something from me before that she’s applying in her current profession, which made me smile because I thought I’ve learned a lot from her too. She’s just a very upbeat, positive, and talented person that I like hanging out with. (Unfortunately, some that I’ve worked with have negative attitudes and don’t want to listen to your suggestions/feedback. Instead, they think you’re picking on them and they try to get you fired by making crazy stuff up and talking behind your back, rather than trying to communicate like responsible adults – like in a certain advertising/marketing company some time ago. But that’s another story for a different day…) And oh, we talked about how great the Eastern TV channels are and my love for The Young and the Restless. 🙂

The Taas was the first dish that was brought to our table, and it was delicious!

IMG_2742[1]

Some pieces of the lamb were chewy, but it was still good. I found some of the lamb being crispy too. Valerie said the rice was puffy like Rice Krispies. Incredibly, this dish was spicy too! And we’d asked for “medium,” so we were curious how spicy it would’ve been had we gone with “hot.” 🙂 Anyway, you could say the Taas was spicy crispy!

The shrimp was next, and Valerie liked it, saying it was sweet. I couldn’t disagree. It wasn’t too spicy, which was different from the lamb.

IMG_2744[1]

As for the Haku Momo – which are the veggie dumplings – they were another winner. They came with two authentic sauces and Valerie liked them both. I also found the dumplings to be spicy! There were five apiece for us.

IMG_2745[1]

And finally, the Lollypop Chicken, which were marinated with ginger garlic and spices, and then pan-fried over their special house sauce… There were six pieces, so three apiece. This dish was another winner, with Valerie commenting that it was like great finger/street food. We also thought that the spiciness level was unique for each dish, which was fantastic.

IMG_2746[1]

With the great food and wonderful conversation, we both agreed Gurkha was a terrific choice. By the end of our meal, the place was packed and there were people waiting to be seated. My, it’s definitely a popular place!

Valerie suggested getting soup if we were to return in the future – certainly something interesting to check out for sure.

IMG_2747[1]

When: Saturday, February 28, 2015
What: 4 appetizers – Taas, Piro Shrimp, Lollypop Chicken, Haku Momo
Where: Gurkha Himalayan Kitchen, 1141 Davie Street, Vancouver, BC, V6E 1N2
How Much: C$9.00, C$9.00, C$8.00, C$12.00 (C$24.00 each after taxes and tips)
Final Thoughts: Wonderful place for dinner and conversation. They do take reservations, and on weekends are open 12:00-2:00 p.m. and 5:00-10:00 p.m. From Tuesdays through Fridays, the hours are 11:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m. and 5:00-10:00 p.m., and they’re closed on Mondays.

IMG_2741[1]

Food Review: White Spot’s Wild Pacific Salmon Burger

(Originally posted on my food review site, “Let’s Eat Out Once a Week.”) 

Had a Wild Pacific Salmon Burger with Salad from White Spot onboard BC Ferries during a recent weekend trip from Vancouver to Nanaimo. I thought I didn’t mind Salmon, but for some reason, I only ate this burger halfway before giving up. The salad, meanwhile, was mediocre and I also had to throw out the last half of it. Not sure what happened, but perhaps I didn’t have an appetite. Or maybe I was too tired and didn’t feel like eating after the first few bites. Whatever the case, I wasn’t a fan of either the burger or the salad. A rare “miss” with White Spot food. (Not that I ever go to the actual White Spot restaurants on a regular basis, and Triple O’s doesn’t count.)

IMG_1964[1]

* * * * *

Other Nanaimo tidbits: During my brief stay in Nanaimo, I was invited to a house party where seven of us shared 14 pounds of meat. (Yup, one of the guys weighed all of it.) Wing and ribs. Yummy! My friend marinated the meats for over 48 hours, and took the care to come up with five different flavours of wings. One of them, the jerk wings, was really spicy and my tongue and mouth felt like they were burning after a bite. All in all, a wonderful party and it’s always good to have a weekend house party with wings and ribs!

IMG_1953[1]IMG_1959[1]

IMG_1961[1]

Food Review: Triple O’s Garlic Parmesan Fries

(Originally posted on my food review site, “Let’s Eat Out Once a Week.”) 

IMG_2423[1]

Garlic Parmesan Fries 

Triple O’s fall promotional item (the Bacon Double Cheddar Bigger Burger) was shelved at the start of this week, and in its place they introduced yet another new product for a limited time: the Garlic Parmesan Fries.

According to the Triple O’s website, these fries came with a side of creamy Caesar dressing for dipping.

garlic

garlic2

But I never got that at all when I ordered these fries!

Anyway, I went to the Burnaby Kingsway location on Tuesday to get these new fries, and it was my first time at this particular location.

IMG_2418[1]

This Triple O’s here on Kingsway is actually a more traditional sit-down fast food restaurant, unlike the other ones I’d been to, where they were either part of a Chevron gas station (and so had limited seating) or located at the local university campuses. So, this Kingsway location is more like a McDonald’s instead of those other ones.

IMG_2422[1]

I honestly didn’t know how big the portion would be, or even how much the fries would cost, because the website didn’t mention the price and the picture on there (or accompanying details) didn’t provide a true indication of how much fries actually came with the order. Even the menu board in the actual restaurant didn’t list the price, and the sign advertising the Garlic Parmesan Fries didn’t give you a sense of the portion because the picture on there was the same as the one on the website. Nonetheless, I figured it was just a snack item, not a full meal, and I was actually hoping it was a small item as I wasn’t hungry and simply wanted to try those fries since they were new.

Anyway, I ordered the fries and a small soft drink. To my surprise, the total including taxes came to only C$5.25. Since the pop was C$1.99 plus tax, it became obvious the fries were only C$2.99 plus tax. So, not a full meal but a snack. Another surprise was the cashier told me to grab a seat and he would bring me the fries when they were done. I didn’t realize it was full-serve fast food but okay, sounded good to me! (Actually, maybe I should not have been surprised since that’s how the Grandview Highway Chevron location did it too; they bring your food to your table.)

The soft drink was self-serve, and I decided on Orange Fanta.

IMG_2421[1]

A few minutes later, the cashier brought the fries to me and yup, it was a tiny serving all right. There was no creaming Caesar dressing that came in a dish at all, but I didn’t bother to ask the cashier about it. I mean, there was sauce actually drizzled on the fries, and if that was supposed to be the dressing, then the food prep staff didn’t do it properly because it was supposed to come separately in a small dish. At least, that was according to the website. And actually, the site did mention the fries would be drizzled with dressing plus you get a side for dipping too. So, that meant they screwed up here at this location. Oh well.

IMG_2424[1]

The fries were garlicky. They were decent. The dressing on the fries made them not so dry, but perhaps had they given a side of dressing for extra dipping like they were supposed to, it might have made a difference. That might have made the fries more tasty. At the end of the day, though, they were just fries and didn’t blow me away. Would I recommend these fries to anybody? Not really. Would I line up for them. Doubtful.

Triple O’s specialty poutines were definitely better than these fries, that’s for sure, so I guess I’ll have to wait until they bring back those poutines next time!

As for the location itself, I think it’s a nice place to hang out with your friends, so I suppose I would return for another item or meal in the future. The garlic Parmesan fries? Not a winner.

IMG_2420[1]

IMG_2425[1]