Pho Boi: A Taste of Attitude (Burnaby location)

Pho Boi exterior

Wendy was quite excited to spot the transition of Pho Hoa on Kingsway to its new incarnation, Pho Boi: A Taste of Vietnam about a week ago.  We agreed to try it ASAP.  It seems this chain has its roots in Victoria, so in hindsight that should have been a red flag right there…

PS-I found this sadly defunct but hilariously named Victoria food blog recently…the front page pic is priceless 😛

Pho Boi interior

We were invited to pick our own seat when we walked in so we pulled up a chair and got down to business with Pho Boi’s menu.  It looked interesting enough so we ordered our pho from the “Adventures’ choice section”.  We also were interested in their version of the Vietnamese spring roll, cha gio, but Wendy wanted to know if they were made with the traditional rice paper or Chinese style spring roll wrappers.  It’s pretty common for local Viet places to use the wheat version, but there were some authentic looking menu items so it was worth asking.  Here’s the convo:

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Birthday dinner #3 – Locals Restaurant at the Old House

We spent the holidays over on Vancouver Island this year.  There didn’t seem to be too many fine dining choices in the Comox Valley area, but it was recommended we go to Locals Restaurant in Courtenay, so for my official birthday dinner celebration with Hitman that’s where we went.  They’re known for sourcing their food locally whenever they can (hence their name).

It had a very warm and inviting atmosphere.  There was even a fully decorated Christmas tree at the entrance with stools for you to take pictures on.

However, some parts of the service left much to be desired. Read on to find out!

Locals Restaurant: Bison Tartare on Asian Salad Amuse Bouche

We were promptly seated as we had already made reservations.  While we were looking through the menu we were offered an amuse bouche of Bison Tartare on Asian Salad.  It was a bit tart, and I thought that covered any hint of gaminess the bison might have. The salad portion was an interpretation of an “Asian” slaw.

Locals Restaurant: Grains bread with chickpea spread

For the complimentary bread, it was multigrain bread from the local bakery Grains.  Alongside was Locals Restaurant’s house-made chickpea spread.  I wasn’t too fond of the spread as it was too bland for my liking.  Hitman really enjoyed it though and he even tasted hints of cumin in it.

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Mr. Ho Wonton House

When it gets really cold I always crave a hot bowl of pho.  Last night was no exception.  But somehow we ended up at Mr. Ho Wonton House.  How did that happen??  Well blame me and my trait of easily distractedness.  As Hitman and I were going along Kingsway I got distracted by the neon signs of the local Korean restaurants, so I then suggested we do Korean instead.  Then I made a joke and suggested we could try On On’s Wonton House, to which Hitman in all seriousness suggested we try Mr. Ho’s, since it was voted best Chinese food in Burnaby.

I cringed my nose and suggested that the votes may not have been cast by Chinese people…  However, I am always in search of a good wonton house within reach, so I agreed.  Why not?  So off to Mr. Ho’s we went.

Upon entering my suspicions were somewhat confirmed: there weren’t any Asian patrons in the house, and there was sweet and sour pork and wonton soup everywhere.  However I found a bit (a little bit) of comfort in the fact that all the servers there were Cantonese, much like the servers at Hon’s Wun Ton House or other similar establishments in Richmond.

I felt like having a big plate of chow mein though.  “Comfort food”, I told Hitman.  So I ordered the Shredded Pork and Bean Sprouts Chow Mein ($8.95).  Hitman decided on the Pan fried Rice Noodle  with Beef and XO Sauce ($7.95) plus a personal order of Wonton Soup and Egg Roll (+$1.50 each).

Mr. Ho Wonton House: Egg roll & Wonton Soup

The small items came first obviously.  Which is actually different from other Asian establishments as usually they don’t seem to really put much effort in to making sure that appies come before the mains!  The egg roll was your standard fair.  Nicely crisp, fresh tasting, and the oil didn’t seem old (old overused oil would make the roll dark in color and you would definitely taste it).  I could even see some strands of meat in it.

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Nuba (Kitsilano) & the Ra Energy 7 day challenge

A couple of weeks ago Wendy and I attended the Ra Energy product launch at Nuba in Kitsilano.  Ra Energy is a local company that produces seed mixtures to top your favourite foods with to add texture, flavour, and nutritional value.  Ra comes in garlic, plain, and naturally sweet varieties.  They teamed up with Nuba for their launch party to allow attendees to sample all three versions of their product in a variety of the restaurant’s dishes.  We took on Ra Energy’s 7 day challenge, but here’s the Nuba portion first:

Nuba and Ra Energy: Red Lentil Soup

To get us started as soon as we walked in we had Red Lentil Soup ($4).  The soup was blended and creamy in texture, and we both found the garlic flavour Ra was a great addition.  They don’t use sodium in any of their products, so they add a lot of garlic powder to ensure flavour in this blend.  It also has a nutty flavour and a crunchy texture that worked well in the soup.

Nuba and Ra Energy: Adam Hart

Once everybody had arrived the founder of Ra Energy (and author of healthy eating book The Power of Food), Adam Hart, gave us a pep talk about his product.  All I can say is this guy is living proof that Ra Energy works; he was so animated and full of energy that I had to snap quite a few pics before I finally got one of him standing still!  The enthusiasm was contagious and everybody was in a great mood when we sat down to partake.

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Dinner at Golden Sea City Restaurant: Snake Soup Starter!

Wendy’s parents recommended this restaurant for a recent family dinner since it’s one of her and Wendy’s favourite dim sum spots (see Wendy’s review here –sad to say that apparently they no longer have the food carts though).  I wasn’t planning on a review since it had already been done…until I saw an especially interesting menu item: snake!  I’m always up for trying new and exotic foods and this was both to me.

Golden Sea City Restaurant: Snake Meat with Bamboo Shoot and Fungus Thick Soup

The snake comes in a soup, Snake Meat with Bamboo Shoot and Fungus Thick Soup ($18.80 or $6.80 per head) to be exact.  You can season the broth with white pepper but it had enough flavour on its own for my taste buds, including small amounts of preserved orange peel.  The fungus and bamboo shoots were present along with a few morsels of pork and little slivers of ginger for a bit of kick.  There was cilantro and some type of airy wonton crisps which immediately changed texture when added to the soup and were a welcome addition.  As for the snake meat, the white portions tasted like chicken and the darker pieces where you could see the spine indentation like the one top right reminded me of eel.  Overall a dense, satisfying soup that was nuanced in flavour and texture.

Golden Sea City Restaurant: Bean Curd Sheets with Veggie in Fish Broth

The Bean Curd Sheets with Veggie in Fish Broth ($9.88) consisted of bok choy and mushroom along with the bean curd in a fish broth.  I always find these fish broths a bit bland but it did make the otherwise unappetizing bean curd taste pretty good when soaked in it, and it enhanced the flavour of the bok choy without smothering it.

Golden Sea City Restaurant: Pork Soft Bone with Bean Curd Sheet and Pickled Veggie in Hot Pot

The Pork Soft Bone with Bean Curd Sheet and Pickled Veggie in Hot Pot ($12.80) was an interesting dish, and one that not everybody liked.  Had the bland, milky pork been served on its own I wouldn’t have had more than a bite, but when combined with the strong taste of the pickled veggie it worked to an extent.  For me it was hard getting past the texture of the soft bone, which was somewhere between a tendon and a bone in firmness.  I thought it was the actual rib bones at first since that’s exactly what it looked like, but turns out it’s just cartilage that joins the ribcage to the spine.  Either way…meh.

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