Crab Envy

Ginger and Green Onion Crab

Ginger and Green Onion Crab

When in Vancouver, you have to eat Asian food and ordering crab is a must-do. But be forewarned – it is one messy meal and you can’t eat it on the sidelines neither, meaning that you have to get in with both hands.

You can ask for a finger bowl but good luck on someone understanding what you want. Instead, make yourself one by taking your rice bowl and pouring some hot tea in it. If you can get yourself a slice of lemon, squeeze some juice into the tea and you have yourself a ‘finger bowl’.

Now get your fingers dirty by grabbing a piece of crab and tasting the sauce by sucking the juices off it. Let me recommend the Ginger and Green Onion sauce because it’s the tastiest and most popular.

Where to go? In Burnaby, you have to go to Rose Garden Seafood Restaurant on Kingsway, just east of Joyce Street. Order the special meal for 4 or 6 or 8 people and you’ll get the crab dish for free.

There will be plenty of food because their servings are very generous. And everything is so delicious there.
Rose Garden Seafood Restaurant 嘉好海鮮美食之家 on Urbanspoon

What’s Up? Wasabi

Lunch Box

Lunch Box

On our way to pick up snorkel gear, we stopped by Wasabi’s on 16th Avenue for lunch. We’ve been there for dinner a few times and liked the sushi and dinner specials but we really haven’t tried the lunch until now. They have about 6-7 items in the lunch box category ranging from $11.95 to $13.95, some had sushi and sashimi, others did not. The ones that did not have raw fish had teriyaki beef or chicken instead. All lunch boxes had tempura, salad and miso soup.

When my lunch box was served, I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of food and variety in their lunch boxes. For $12.95, there were 2 tempura shrimps, 2 pieces of veggies, 3 nigiri sushi, 3 california roll pieces, 5 dark pieces of teriyaki chicken on a bed of rice, salad and miso soup. The lunch was more enough for someone with a small appetite but it was perfectly sized for me. Everything tasted good. The sushi was fresh and the california rolls were made with real crab meat instead of the imitation crab that a lot of restaurants uses. If I had to say a bad thing to average out my review, I would say that I am more accustomed to a lighter batter on the tempura. But it’s all good and filling too.

And if you are looking for a great snorkel and scuba shop north of the Caribbean, drop in next door and see John at Caribbean Dream.

Wasabi Japanese Restaurant Ltd on Urbanspoon

Rich Italian Food

Seafood PescatoreFriends of ours took us to Villa Firenze for dinner a few weeks back then they headed out to Maui the next day. Lucky dogs! But I’ll be heading to the Big Island very soon too. Parking at the villa is great. They have ample parking in the rear and there is parking after hours in the lot adjacent to the restaurant. Walking into Villa Firenze is like walking into a house. I was told by our friends that it is a typical house in Bridgeland. Converted to a restaurant, it is cozy yet roomy inside. I like how the foyer of the house is the reception and the living spaces converted to dining areas. Stairs leading downstairs from the foyer takes you to the washrooms.

They have coat check but it was cold out so we held on to our coats. Everyone was dressed business casual so I can only guess that a lot of business lunches and dinners are held here. The owner came and greeted us at our table which was situated near the front of the restaurant. Where I sat, I had a commanding look at their wine selection. Instead of a wine cellar, they have all their wine bottles in the restaurant. My guess is that there were ample red wine in the house because these bottles were not chilled.

Our host decided to order the signature appetizer for us to try. The Portabello mushroom, oven baked with lots of garlic, bits of bacon and parmesan cheese(?) was delicious. A meal in itself. Next came our entrees. I chose to go with a simple spaghetti with marinara and it was delicious. My wife chose the Seafood Pescatore pasta. It looked great but I’m sensitive to mussels. I prefer the green mussels from Australia rather than the sea mussels that grow under piers. These were definitely sea mussels as you can still taste the sea in them. The rest of the dishes looked scrumptious. The veal dishes were nicely presented but I’m used to paying a few euros for them in Italy, rather than $20+ here in Calgary.

Overall food quality was excellent. I’ll give them awesome ratings on the Portabello and the pasta sauce. I didn’t pay for dinner but from the way the owner treated us, it must have cost a mint. We’ll be back for good Italian cooking when we’re downtown and feeling a bit rich.

Honest Shoe Repair

Shoe Store

Shoe Store

Here’s one blog I should have written a long time ago. Thanks to Joe at his Westbrook Shoe Repair shop on 17th Avenue SW, my Keen shoes were spared from the big dumpster. I love my Keen shoes and at $90 for a new pair, I sure didn’t want to throw it out just because of a few loose threads.

One day as I was having lunch at the Little Lebanon, I went for a stroll and found Joe’s shop. I walked in with a hole in my shoe and asked what it would cost to mend it. He took a quick look at it and quoted me $8.

I almost left my shoe behind for him to work on it but it was wet out and I didn’t want to limp back to my car. I decided to come back and pay Joe a visit. His shop is a bit of a mess with shoes, purses and stuff on shelves. But I guess he’s doing well because these shoes and purses belong to customers. I don’t think it was decorations.

Anyways, I returned with my shoe and my wife’s purse. She had bought it from a street fair in Italy for $10 but the zipper came loose after just one use. Joe estimated it would cost $10 to fix so I went for it. After 5 days, I returned to pick up my goods and Joe was standing behind the counter waiting for me. My shoe looked new again. It was perfect and will last another 2 years or more. The purse looked great too with working zipper.

His shop only takes debit cards and cash. He is fast, honest and thoughtful. He told me he’s been in business for 30 years – awesome!

Mt Snow

Mountain of Snow

Mountain of Snow

It was the perfect setting for a Himalayan restaurant, a mountain of snow, the size of Mt. Everest. Lucky for the sign, we would have easily drove past it.

Don’t be like us and arrive without reservations. We were lucky to beat the rush and was seated next to tables and tables with ‘Reserve’ signs on them. Ok, it’s a popular place on Friday nights and everyone who eats here is a regular.

We started off with the traditional appetizer, the Vegetarian Momo.

Vegetarian Momo

Vegetarian Momo

They came shaped as leaves with a curry-like dipping sauce. The contents reminded my wife,  of Taiwanese buns with strands of vermicelli and slices of vegetables. The mozarella cheese also made the momo’s less doughy.

Next came the house special, pappadums served with a yogurt mixture with mint and a sweet chutney.

We decided to order two dishes and share them among us. My wife wanted to try the lamb but was worried that it would be too gamey. The waiter assured us that they grill the lamb first before cooking it in the tomato based sauce. I wanted something to ward off vampires so I ordered the Himalayan Garlic dish with chicken.

Lamb on the Left,Chicken on the Right

Lamb on the Left,Chicken on the Right

When the entrees were served, they came on individual serving dishes with a scoop of saffron rice and a small salad. The saffron rice was slightly yellow and the salad was tossed with a light yogurt dressing. Both entrees came with a thick sauce with a few chunks of meat in them. Imo, the entrees were too small to be shared. With 5-6 pieces of lamb and the same for the chicken, it was barely enough for one.

Because we shared the dishes, we were tempted to order another entree but decided against it. Somehow after eating the rice and flatbread that is served with the entrees, the food started expanding in our stomachs and we found ourselves quite full.

The Himalayan on Urbanspoon

To top off the night, we ordered the Himalayan Cake which topped off a great evening. It was made with cassava root and coconut. It was served warm and was quite dense. We both enjoyed it very much along with our choice of entrees and appetizer. It’s a definite thumbs up for us.

Himalayan Cake

Himalayan Cake

Best Wonton House

Wonton Noodle

Wonton Noodle

If there’s one thing Calgary needs more of and that is, more wonton houses in the neighbourhoods. The difference between a good wonton house from a great wonton house is the soup base. A great wonton house will serve a bowl of wonton with noodle in a nice tasting soup. It’s rich with flavour and without the use of msg.

My favourite wonton house in Vancouver used to be Hon’s Wonton House but I heard that Mr. Hon held a bad poker hand and lost his restaurant in a bet. I don’t know if that’s purely urban legend or not , so don’t quote me. I personally think he expanded too quickly. From his little restaurant on Main Street in Chinatown, he went to opening another one up the block on Keefer then one in Richmond and so on and so forth.

Kwong Chow Congee & Noodle House 廣州粥面小厨 on Urbanspoon

My loyalty then had to move up to Main Street and King Edward where Kwong Chow is located. The soup base is delicious and the wonton are huge. I do wish the Chinese would go back to making wonton with pork instead of shrimp. Now, it’s all competition and every wonton house is trying to go up on each other with the size of their wonton. At Kwong Chow, the wonton is a good golf ball size and it contains two or more shrimps.

Egg noodle usually accompanies the wonton along with a few strands of Gai Lan, a Chinese vegetable. I like having tendon with my wonton but others enjoy it with sliced fish or barbeque pork. To me, it’s the best wonton house in Vancouver.

Samurai – Awesome Sashimi

Salmon Sashimi

Salmon Sashimi

After eating sashimi at Samurai on Fraser Street in Vancouver, I now know how a bear feels like on a salmon run. Samurai is an awesome place to eat sushi or sashimi. The fish is fresh and they give you plenty of it.

In a city where there’s more than 222 sushi bars, Vancouver is the place for sushi. Other than salmon and tuna, there is yellowtail, octopus, surf clam and other exotic fishes available year round.

Every time I’m in Vancouver, I have to make at least one stop at Samurai. My usual order consists of one salmon sashimi, one tako sashimi and a selection of rolls. Let me warn you that the rolls are really filling so take it easy on ordering too many if you are not going to share it with anyone. The beef teriyaki roll for instance, is tasty but it’s quite large for one.

For uni or sea urchin lovers, Samurai has a Uni sashimi dish. Uni is very high on cholesterol but very good for the advanced sushi go-ers. Given a plate of uni, I can devour it in a few minutes. Yum.

Other reviewers think this is more quantity than quality. I would have to disagree. I have never found a bone in my fish nor sent it back because it was not fresh. I recommend this place to all my Calgarian friends who visits Vancouver looking for fish to eat.

Samurai Sushi on Urbanspoon

Property Werks (of Art)

Best Grass Mowing

Best Grass Mowing

Everybody wants a nice yard but no one wants to take care of it. That’s right, I’m one of these people. I would rather leave the grass mowing to someone else and leave my weekend free for some (well-deserved) R&R.

This year was the year to switch companies. We had used Escapes Inc. for many years. The company is run by a husband and wife team and for the most part, they do a good job. However we needed a change and our job was becoming too small for them. The straw the broke the camel’s back was when they came by in the Spring to power rake our yard. We had not asked for it nor agreed on the price. Luckily I was home that day and stopped them in their tracks. In my opinion, that’s not good business practice  – assume the sale, do the work and invoice the customer.

The new company that we selected was Property To date, we are very happy with their lawn care. Shane comes by every two weeks, rolls the mower off his white truck and meticulously mows our yard. He fills up numerous garbage bags with lawn clippings and leaves it behind. Some customers want the lawn clippings to make their own compost. Others like me would discard it with our organics. Before he scoots away, he’ll take out his whipper snapper and makes sure your lawn has nice edging or if there are some overgrown grass in your garden, he’ll gladly trim it down for you.

Their prices are very competitive and they gave me a break because my front yard isn’t very big. Shane flies through there in less than a minute. Awesome, efficient and friendly.

Awesome Meat Pies

Village Pita Bakery

Village Pita Bakery

Since the first introduction to a pita pie, I’ve consumed thousands of these tasty morsels and introduced many people to this awesome bakery called the Village Pita Bakery in the NE. When  it opens in the morning, there’s already a trickle of people coming in and ordering the famed pita pie. I’ve been there as early as 10am and had to line up for a fresh meat pie.

The original meat pie is a flat pita bread with ground beef, tomato and herb mixture spread on it and baked. To eat it, drizzle lemon juice on it and eat away. Fiery eaters would want to try their homemade hot sauce which is great on the meat pies. When ordering, tell them you plan to eat in and they will serve you up a bowl of fresh olives with your meal.

Village Pita Bakery on Urbanspoon

Other tasty treats include the cheese pie which uses a variety of cheeses, baked on the flat pita bread dough. When fresh out of the oven, the dough is crispy. They will fold it in half and serve it to you. Watch out for the drippings because they come out juicy and hot. If you’re eating with your spouse or a coworker, order 6 and get a break on price. Better yet, order 12 to share it with your family and save some money too.

Complement your meal with a baklava and drink and you’re good for the day. Once you’ve tasted this, you’ll be back for more and hopefully, you’ll bring your family and your friends too.

Hyatt Mercedes Service – Kudos to Cody

Hyatt Mercedes Service Center

Hyatt Mercedes Service Center

First impressions count but I usually give multiple chances before writing anyone off. With just two Mercedes-Benz dealers in Calgary, I had to call one of them about installing a block heater cord (I know I had plenty of time before winter but in Calgary, you can never be safe. And I rather be safe than sorry.)

Both service departments answered my questions about the cord, lying to me that it only costs $40. I was ready to buy one and send it back to Kelowna for refund because I had paid $107 for it.

I asked whether someone like me could install it. Lone Star said it was easy. Hyatt Mercedes said it was a little tricky and if I dropped by, they would help me with it. I took them up on this after asking for directions to their new service centre. They said it was under the Crowchild bridge and they were right. To get there, drive west on 10th Avenue on the rightmost lane. Go past the two turnoffs, one to Bow Trail and the other to Crowchild Trail. Stay right and when you see Mercedes-Benz, go down the road to your right and you’re there.

Cody greeted me at the Hyatt Mercedes-Benz service bay, took my car to the back as I waited in the waiting area for about 15 minutes. When my car appeared, Cody popped my hood and showed me where it was installed and told me they installed it free of charge. For that, I am rating Hyatt Mercedes – AWESOME. Kudos to Cody for AWESOME customer service.