El Pulgarcito

We were on the block of Hastings which El Pulgarcito inhabits because we were trying to get into Bo Laksa King for a late lunch, another authentic foreign food experience that we reviewed.  You can read our review of Bo Laksa here.  Alas, that day we arrived during Bo Laksa’s mid-afternoon closing period in the dead zone between lunch and dinner.  But it turned out to be a happy accident as you will see…

El Pulgarcito exterior

Wendy has had a love affair with pupusas ever since I introduced her to them back at Fusion Fest in Surrey a couple of years ago.  So when we spotted this little Mexican/Salvadorean restaurant we had to sample their version of the Salvadorean staple.

El Pulgarcito interior

El Pulgarcito

Inside, the theme is the bright, bold colours of the Salvadorean flag (blue, white and yellow).  The name is also nationalistic, pulgarcito meaning Tom Thumb, which is a kind of slang term for El Salvador since it’s the smallest country in Central America.

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Victoria Weekend Trip Part 3 – Hernande’z Cocina

For our last meal we went to another rather odd location, Hernande’z Cocina, for Central American food.  This is apparently as close as you’ll get to a traditional Salvadorean cocina here in BC, with two sides of a mall hallway doubling for a rustic village market stall.  Well, they didn’t quite deliver on the atmosphere, but it’s an interesting setup and it seems to be working for them.

Hernande'z Cocina

It is all very DIY and kind of confusing for a newcomer, however they have plenty of hand-written cardboard signage and if you’re feeling overwhelmed it pays off to start reading.  Or do what we did and browse the page after page of instructions and explanations on their website.  Many people have been complaining in various reviews about this style of service, or self-service to be more accurate, along with the various rules for dining there but after reading what the owners have to say about it I felt good about giving them our business and it all seemed to make sense to me.  Most of it has to do with keeping costs down and quality of food high, although it’s hard to understand the justification for a $4 side of rice or beans…I guess they must be HUGE.  Everything else was quite reasonably priced though.

They have a slow food and an express menu, the main difference seems to be that the slow food comes with their home-made tortillas and is served table-side via a strange (but cool) loteria card-based system that involves a bit of shouting and hand-waving.  Express food is picked up across the hall at the kitchen.  I think the only express item we ordered was the burrito, but everything seemed to come out of the kitchen at a good clip so maybe slow food is a bit of a misnomer.  Messier items come on a plate whereas finger-food is on butcher paper, however plates can be rented for $1.  Yes, things are done a little differently here, but read their website manifesto and then sample the food before you judge.

Hernande'z Cocina: Tacos de Carne

Tacos de Carne $6.00 – fresh, handmade corn tortillas with locally raised, naturally grown beef, salsa, chopped onions, cilantro and wedges of lime.

The Tacos de Carne were a bit less bang for buck at three for $6 than the other tacos which come with five for the same price, but the organic beef they use apparently isn’t always in stock so we had to try it.  And we were glad we did!  The beef was sooo tender and juicy, with a generous portion of cilantro folded in delectable home-made tortillas.

Hernande'z Cocina: Pork Enchilada

Pork Enchilada – $11.95

The Pork Enchilada came swimming in a very cinnamon-y sauce which reminded us of a mole.  Intriguing on first bite, but by the end we were getting sick of it due to the overwhelming sauce.  On the plus side the meat was juicy and there was lots of gooey cheese smothering it.

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Surrey Fusion Fest

Anyone else went to the Surrey Fusion Fest over the summer?  It was held over the weekend of July 16-17 and it’s basically a mini world cuisine/cultural event that included many food stalls and cultural presentations such as Korean drumming, belly-dancing, etc.  The big-ticket event was the 9pm show Sunday night featuring Jay Sean.  Bedouin Soundclash was featured the night before.

It was actually pretty big and featured quite a bit of stalls from different countries.  Some of whom I’ve never seen at other events of the like.  A downer was that it rained the whole weekend which explains the sorry amount of pictures I took as it was just too miserable to take out my camera and eat and handle things at the same time…plus my Tom’s got wet =(

Surrey Fusion Fest: pupusa

One of my favorites was definitely the El Salvador stall. I went to the fest with Hitman and he actually recommended me try what’s called a pupusa, which is a traditional Salvadorean dish of handmade corn tortillas stuffed with various ingredients.

At this stall they offered either meat, cheese, or mix.  On my first try I tried the mix.

It was crumbly but very flavorful and savory.  I’m actually not sure what meat is in it but it was a ground meat of some sort.  The homemade salsas were pretty spicy though, especially the green stuff.  I enjoyed this so much we went back the next day and I had another one.

Surrey Fusion Fest: Mango soda

No this is not urine in a bag.

At the same stall I also got an import mango soda.  I actually wanted the mango juice but a miscommunication between Hitman and I and the guy resulted in the soda version.  It was interestingly served in a little flimsy plastic bag with a straw.  Actually I had to ask for the straw LOL.

Actually now that I think about it, what I REALLY wanted was the Tamarind juice but again…miscommunication….

Surrey Fusion Fest: Kenyan curry and tortilla with salad

Hitman  visited the Kenyan stall next and got a platter of curry plus a tortilla of some sort.  I tried a little and it really wasn’t that good.  The tortilla was premade and kept warm so it was a bit dry.  As for the curry, let’s just say I still prefer Indian/HK versions much, much more.

We actually tried more food the next day but the weather was just so damn miserable I didn’t take any pictures.  I did recall trying momo’s from the Tibetan stall, got Hitman to try some “Fries” from the Taiwan stall which really were deep-fried fish cake (‘tempura’) and Salt & Pepper Chicken nuggets.

All-in-all it was a nice event for spending a weekend on.