Healthy Noodle House: Sometimes, All You need is a Big Delicious Bowl of Noodles :)

Exam Time. Oh, how I dread having to crack open my dusty textbooks once again and never see the warm rays of the sun for a few weeks (especially when the weather has been unbelievably beautiful for the past few days!). Alas, I must memorize passages of boring text while my mind strays away to thoughts of other things, such as sinfully delicious food. What I wouldn’t give for a big bucket of fried chicken right now… But, I made a promise to myself that I would not eat anything considered “unhealthy” until my exams are over. Yes, I clearly have a death wish. However, I did now have the perfect excuse to try out Healthy Noodle House on West 4th for a bowl of deliciousness without any oil or MSG!

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They have an ordering method where you fill out a little form to indicate what you want in your bowl of noodles, and you can choose your choice of noodles, vegetables, and protein. I decided to with the rice noodles, all of the vegetables (hey, I’m trying to be healthy, remember?), and the BBQ pork and wontons. After handing the form back to the owner, who is also the chef, I sat down and eagerly waited for my food to arrive…

 

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And the owner clearly isn’t stingy at all. When he brought over my meal, I was excited to dig since everything looked so vibrant and delicious! One sip of the soup, and I was a goner. Seriously, it was hard to believe that there wasn’t any oil or MSG in this. The friendly owner told me that the soup is made with a seaweed base in place of broth but what I really detected was the strong nuttiness of sesame for flavour. Not much to say about the noodles, they were not cooked to a mush and did their job of filling me up. Of course, being on this theme of healthiness, the BBQ pork was a leaner cut and therefore not as tender, as expected. The wontons were also incredible, as the filling had a bounciness to the texture while the spices were perfect. Finally, the vegetables were all fresh and had a nice crunch, and *gasp* there was more than just a single stalk of bok choy (come on, you know that noodles don’t have a good reputation when it comes to having a lot of vegetables!). Clearly, this was a satisfying meal for me :)

 

If you’re in the area, do try out Healthy Noodle House! The noodles are delicious and a nice change from the usual sushi and pasta for me. It’s definitely good for an energy boost when you’re completely drained and what’s even better is the awesome owner of this little restaurant :) Have a chat with him, and you’ll feel as though you’re eating at someone’s house as they smile proudly at the fact that you’re enjoying what they made for you.
Healthy Noodle House on Urbanspoon

Pizzeria Ludica: Great Place to Spend Hours with Friends!

I know this is going to sound weird, but I actually don’t like pizza. Sure, if it’s placed right in front of me, I won’t hesitate to take a slice… or two… or the whole pie… but it’s not something that I usually go for. However, I’m all for board games as a great way to spend time with friends and a good excuse to disconnect from technology for a few hours. Yes, fun can come in other forms besides apps! And Pizzeria Ludica, located in Gastown beside the T&T there, has an extensive collection of board games for their diners. So while I may not appreciate pizza that much, I do love the idea of being able to relax and play some games while I’m dining :)

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Iced Tea:

This is literally iced tea, not the pop kind! Therefore, it’s unsweetened (although sugar syrup can be requested!) but it’s refreshing and helps cut down some of the heaviness of the pizza.

 

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Montreal ($13):

pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers, mozzarella. While I do find that the pizzas have a light leoparding, the middle crust is soggy so the pizza immediately flops down when you pick up a slice. I did enjoy the Montreal as I liked the saltiness from the pepperoni and the fresh crunch from the peppers!

 

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Hawaiian ($13):

ham, pineapple, cheddar, mozzarella. Fun fact: as a child, this would be the only pizza that I would eat! The sweetness from the pineapples is always appreciated and everyone likes Hawaiian, so this was finished off quickly.

 

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Agricola ($15):

sausage, chicken, mozzarella, asiago, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, mozzarella. The Agricola was the least favourite of the bunch as it tasted pretty one-dimensional and wasn’t memorable.

 

While the pizzas were good, they weren’t Oh-My-God-I-love-pizza-now delicious. What I actually appreciated more was the comfortable ambiance and extensive collection of board games on the wall! Overall, Pizzeria Ludica is a great place to head to with friends. While the pizzas were still delicious, it won’t be the first thing that comes to mind when you think back to the visit. So if you don’t have any plans for the weekend, why not go to Pizzeria Ludica!
Pizzeria Ludica & Game Room on Urbanspoon

Shanghai River: Mmmm… Xiao Long Bao’s

I once went to Shanghai River many years ago but I can’t even recall whether I liked the food or not. It was back during a time when I was too young to really appreciate food, as all I cared about was whether my tummy was full! The only thing I remember is that it was my first time trying xiao long baos and I had burned my tongue since I wasn’t expecting the dumplings to have soup inside! Since then, I haven’t really eaten a lot of Shanghainese food (no, it was not because that incident scarred me for life…) because it was just never something that I really craved. But since I was in the area to do some shopping, I decided to revisit Shanghai River to see how their food actually was!

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Salted Soya Bean ($2.95):

Now this isn’t something that I see a lot. To me, it tastes like a milder soy milk that has a savoury taste due to the green onions and Chinese donut. It has a very interesting flavour, but I actually enjoyed it! It was very smooth and light-tasting, but had a bit of a spicy kick from the chili oil. Definitely a good start to the meal :)

 

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Homemade Sesame Cake Stuffed w/ Beef ($7.95):

I felt that this was really similar to the Taiwanese dish of five spice beef in pancake. The sesame cake was very crispy and flaky with a nice nuttiness from the sesame seeds. There was a large portion of beef inside but I felt that there could have been a bit more seasoning or sauce to them as it was on the blander side.

 

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Shanghai Dumplings w/ Minced Pork ($7.50):

The xiao long bao’s were delicious and yes, I made sure not to burn my tongue again! I find that the skin is relatively thin and held up without breaking upon the slightest contact. The pork filling was seasoned well and I enjoyed the savoury soup inside.

 

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Fried Shanghai Style Rice Cake ($13.80):

As evident in the picture, this dish was quite oily. However, it was very extremely delicious with a heavy soy flavour. The rice cakes were soft and had a nice chewiness with every bite. I really would eat the whole dish if I could, but the portion was big and it was meant for sharing.

 

I enjoyed my visit to Shanghai River and it was nice to stray away from the usual sushi and noodles that I go for! The dishes are meant to be shared so it doesn’t work out well when you dine by yourself (yes I do eat alone most of the time, I’m not ashamed of it!). The food was flavourful and I liked how there are a variety of different dishes and flavours to satisfy everyone’s taste.
Shanghai River 滬江海派料理 on Urbanspoon

Faubourg: It’s Dessert. Enough Said.

I always see Faubourg on the way to and back from school and if it weren’t for the lack of parking spots in Kerrisdale, I would probably drop by everyday to satisfy my sweet tooth! But, I suppose it’s better for my waistline and wallet that I don’t go there everyday… Well, I was in the area already so I decided to head over one late afternoon to sit and chat with a friend for a bit. Unfortunately, they only had two flavours left for their macarons so I couldn’t get any of my favourite tea flavours :(

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Lemon Tart:

Faubourg’s best seller – smooth lemon curd on top of vanilla milk foam in a buttery tart shell and finished with pearl sugar around the sides. I’m actually not that ecstatic about lemon-flavoured desserts but I enjoyed this. There was a strong tartness to the lemon curd but this is balanced well by the pearl sugar that cuts down some of the sourness. I also love how the sugar adds a bit of a textural contrast to the silky smooth lemon tart.

 

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Macarons:

The only two flavours left were strawberry black pepper and lemon. Their macarons are very well done with a smooth, crispy shell that gives way to a soft and chewy interior. It’s too bad that the strawberry black pepper just tasted like normal strawberry and I couldn’t taste any hint of the black pepper. The lemon macaron tasted very similar to the lemon tart so this would be good for lemon-lovers :) I do enjoy Faubourg’s tea-flavoured macarons more though so if given a choice, I wouldn’t choose these ones again.

 

Faubourg is always a good place to relax and chat for a bit while enjoying some beautiful desserts. Their desserts are consistently delicious and the café is very cozy so I do find myself heading over there quite a bit. It’s also located in a nice area that’s easily accessible so it’s never empty!
Faubourg on Urbanspoon

Super Buffet: Care to Try Some Frog Legs?

I actually forgot about my visit to Super Buffet so these pictures are from quite a while back! I know this is very common of Vancouverites when we head down the border – we always end up going to buffets in the US. There’s just something about being able to consume a large variety of food at an affordable price that’s just so tempting…

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I remember the siu mai’s being dried out and not having much flavour. The dumplings were generic tasting. The mussels were actually not bad and tasted fresh enough. I’m probably the only one that gets crab rangoons, but I did enjoy it. I would pass on the cheese-stuffed bread, as it was extremely oily and heavy but it didn’t taste good at all. The teriyaki chicken was really tender and juicy while the “Japanese” chicken was dry and hard to chew.

 

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Now, frog legs is something that I have never seen before at buffets. While it may look intimidating, it actually tastes like a milder version of chicken and I found them to be a bit on the saltier side. It was fun to eat this, since I haven’t had them in so many years! The coconut shrimp was very heavy and quite sweet. The clams were alright but I got more empty shells than actual clam meat. The chicken w/ broccoli is always a safe option, as the chicken is tender while the broccoli is flavourful by soaking up the sauce. The chow mein was actually not too oily or overcooked, even if it was bland.

 

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The sushi rolls were not impressive as they were very dry and bland. The vegetable tempura was equally unimpressive, as it was lukewarm and the batter was thick and doughy. The cucumbers were a nice change from all the heaviness. The ribs were dry and not exactly fall-off-the-bone tender. The squid was good, with a bit of a spicy kick and the squid was tender. Unfortunately, the roast chicken was dry and bland. The spring roll was decent.

 

Clearly, Super Buffet wasn’t impressive. They do have a lot of diners but that’s probably due to the large volume of visitors from Canada. It’s cheap and filling, and there’s a lot of options that you can choose from so I guess it’s a good stop before some shopping. The frog legs were a surprise to see so that’s what distinguishes Super Buffet from all the other Asian buffets.
Super Buffet 北海道 on Urbanspoon

Cactus Club Cafe: Wow, I Wasn’t Expecting So Much Ribs!

Park Royal has really changed a lot since my childhood. In my memories, I remembered it as a quiet, empty, and boring mall that my family would only head over to on Boxing Day to beat the crowds for cheap chocolates at London Drugs! Well, fast forward to present day, and they’ve expanded and now have stores that I would actually be interested in :) I also find that the area is very nice, traveling around the sections of the mall is easy and there are a decent selection of restaurants nearby. So I paid a visit to Cactus Club Cafe since it’s been quite a while since my last visit to one of their locations!

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Jack Daniels’ Ribs ($26):

Slow-roasted with j.d. bbq sauce, mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables. So I was impressed because I was expecting only half a rack of ribs, but I was presented with a full rack! Portion wise, this dish was pretty generous in size. I do wish that the ribs would more tender since I didn’t find them to be perfectly fall off the bone. The sauce was strong with a generic taste as I couldn’t really detect much of the Jack Daniel’s. The mashed potatoes and asparagus were also predictable but delicious. All in all, a dish that did the job and although it didn’t impress me, it also didn’t disappoint either.

 

Cactus Club Cafe is a pretty safe option when it comes to dining out. There are a lot of different offerings to suit everyone’s tastebuds and the prices aren’t too high. Service was extremely friendly and well-done with the servers trying to make actual conversation. The interior is also very nicely decorated and comfortable!
Cactus Club Cafe on Urbanspoon