Maria and I were in Richmond after viewing a potential apartment, and we had a hard time deciding where to have lunch. I named a couple of places nearby, and Toyko Joe Ramen Okawari was the winner. Upon arrival, we noticed that the restaurant's name has been changed to Ramen Izakaya Okawari. I was not sure if it was under the same management or if this was a brand new restaurant. I didn't want to go through another round of picking restaurants and gave Ramen Izakaya Okawari a try. The restaurant kept some of the modern wood theme as the previous, but I noticed a more kid-ish appeal. There were anime posters, toys and drawings throughout the restaurant. I didn't mind it, but it seemed as if they were trying to be modern but young at the same time, maybe also kawaii. It felt like any minute a customer in cosplay would enter. The menu was more or less the same as I remembered from Toyko Joe Ramen Okawari. The waitress was friendly and patient with us. We ordered the Okawari Origin Ramen, Miso Ramen Sapporo, Chopped Scallop Cone, and Sashimi Set. I thought the pricing was expensive except for the ramen. Maria thought the Okawari Origin Ramen was okay but not as great as she remembered it to be. I had a taste, and I remembered a very bold ginseng herbal taste (clear, healthy and cleansing) but this wasn't it. I had the Miso Ramen Sapporo, and I thought it tasted more salty than it should have. The soup base was throwing me off, but I knew later on what it was. MSG. I got the classic case of dry mouth after leaving the restaurant and fell into a deep nap. I should also mention that the cha su was tough and chewy with no flavor. The Chopped Scallop Cone was meh; it had too much mayonnaise and was runny. I don't remember if the cone had chopped scallop placed throughout the cone to the end; it may have ended towards the top middle. The Sashimi Set, which contained three pieces each of Toro, Hamachi and Salmon was overpriced and disgusting. The portion size was a bit on the small end. It was not fresh and had a strange slime to it. I couldn't stomach any of pieces once I tried one of each. This restaurant was not what I expected.
Verdict: Thumbs down. Overpriced if not ordering ramen and not worth it.
Have you tried or been to Kingyo or Suika? Rajio Public House is another restaurant owned by the same group. Like the other two, this had some what of the same theme; wood style decor but with a fun twist. Maria was very excited to try this restaurant out. She was able to get a promo deal through VanEats. I don't remember what the deal entailed but we ordered the following; Tako Wasabi, Tuna Salt Tataki, Sashimi Salad, Vegetables with Dip, Miso Ramen, Oden, Pork Ribs with Balsamic Vinegar, Sweet and Sour Sauce, Chicken Karaage, and Seafood ball. The service was superb. The waitress was friendly and helpful. She recommended a lot of things to try out. Maria and I are big eaters and we ended up ordering the recommendations and almost everything that caught our eye. This happened during the Summer and unfortunately, I am posting it now. I don't remember most of my initial thoughts of each dish but I will try my best. The Tako Wasabi was nothing extraordinary. Tuna Salt Tataki was good. It was slightly salted and cooled down, which was perfect for the Summer. The Sashimi Salad was such a good deal. I was surprised at how much sashimi was in the Sashimi Salad. Miso Ramen was okay, but it doesn't beat pure ramen houses. The Oden was great. It was on par with Guu Garden. The Pork Ribs with Balsamic Vinegar, Sweet and Sour Sauce was a bit of a let down. The meat fell off the bone but it was dry and very chewy. The flavor was not what I was expecting. The Chicken Karaage was fried perfect. It was tender and moist, but it held no flavor. I had to ask the server for some sea salt. The best dish that night was the seafood ball. It's similar to a crab cake and crab claw but with everything else. I would order this dish a thousands times. It blew me away. This is a must try, although I can't remember the name of this dish exactly.
Note: This is not all we order, we had more but I forgot to take pictures and I don't remember what else is missing from this list.
* Pork Ribs with Balsamic Vinegar, Sweet and Sour Sauce *
* Chicken Karaage *
* Seafood ball *
Verdict: Overall, a great atmosphere and a chilled place for the summer. It was unfortunate they weren't serving their watermelon punch (a must have). I would love to come back or to the other two restaurants.
It was Maria's birthday, and I was planning on taking her to Edible Canada (she was hinting it leading up to her birthday), but unfortunately they were closed for a private function. The Sandbar was nearby, and I decided to make reservations for that. I think they used to hold New Year Eve parties a while back, but they suddenly stopped? We planned on celebrating one of our new years at The Sandbar, but it didn't happen (or maybe I'm mistaking it for another restaurant). The restaurant's decor was fancy and intimate. The perfect place for a date or Christmas party. We sat near the windows and had a great view across the water looking over to Yaletown. Our waiter was very helpful, and his suggestions were spot on. We ordered the Crab and Artichoke Dip, Oysters (Malpeque, Kusshi, Kumamoto), 10oz Pork Chop with Mango Chutney (daily special), Ahi Tuna, Special Scallop Roll and Belgian Chocolate Pudding. Right off the bat, everything was fresh and delicious. What made this restaurant stood out for me, was how they stress about the importance about fresh seafood. If it is not fresh, they won't offer it. They won't cut corner and offer a lower grade quality.
The Crab and Artichoke Dip came out piping hot. I burnt the roof of my mouth. It was very cheesy and creamy. I tasted the artichoke, but couldn't taste the crab, but Maria did. I guess I was too burnt to notice the difference. Maria had the Oysters; I didn't. They were fresh, and she liked Kusshi more than the other two. The 10oz Pork Chop was amazing. I would order this again and again, but without the Mango Chutney. I'm not a huge fan of Mango Chutney. I rather have a peppercorn sauce, gravy or mushroom cream/gravy. It was grilled to perfection. Each bite was heaven. It was juicy and charred lightly which gave it a smokey essence. I had to hold back the urge to eat everything to the bone. I didn't want to look like an animal, by holding the pork chop by its bone and going to town on it. *SMH*. The Ahi Tuna was amazing as well, but I wish they paired it with another sauce. I think it was a wasabi based sauce, which for some reason I didn't like, and I eat a lot of wasabi. I think the sauce was also diluted with something else. The Special Scallop Roll was good, but I wished the rice was a bit firmer. Each piece was on the verge of falling apart. The scallop was fresh. It was soft and smooth. It had a minimal bounce or chewiness to it. It went down effortlessly. I wanted to order another roll. The Belgian Chocolate pudding was to die for. The pistachio praline hit all the right spots. The portion was decent, and I thought I could finish it all to myself but it was very filling. The pudding and toffee creme didn't feel heavy at first but got to me midway, and I slowed down dramatically. I was full by the end of the meal that I passed out on the ride back home. I felt bad making Maria drive because she felt the same.
Verdict: A great spot for dinner and I heard their brunch is as good if not better. I would love to take my mom here.
There have been some very ill Asics coming out, and I think it was time for me to hop onto that gravy train. It's surprising to see all these runners making a comeback (i.e. Saucony). Unfortunately, unless those pairs are cosigned or collaborations, the shoe won't sell (i.e. Ronnie Fieg). I was fortunate enough to cop a pair of the Asics Gel Lyte V in both the Rose and Sage colourways. Shortly after receiving my pair, I decided to sell them. I couldn't see myself wearing them. They looked funny on me, but the quality, material and colourway were hot. I instantly regret selling them. When I saw the images for the "Teal Dragon", I knew I had to give this another try. They looked way better than the Lebron 11 " South Beach" . I copped the "Teal Dragon" and sold the "South Beach". I think my feet were made for Nike, but I think it is time for me to diversify my portfolio. I need to backtrack and try to re-grab the Rose and Sage colourways. The Koyo pair that released recently is hot too. I need more money and a new wardrobe!
Remember when moon boots were cool? I don't. I was too young to understand fashion. It especially didn't help when I didn't have any Canadian / American influences. I was sheltered; living whatever my parents spoon fed me. Remember the space race? and the first to be on the moon? Apollo 11? I don't. I wasn't even born yet. I learnt about these things through movies, but I do remember when the Nike Air Max Lunar 90 SP "Moon Landing" dropped. When the first images surfaced online, I knew I was looking at something special. I wanted it. In my opinion it was the best release of the year. All the hype made it impossible to cop. I tried and failed. I reached into my pockets very deep and prepared myself for what was to come. All I can say is that it was worth it. Everything about this shoe is on point 100%. The only problem now, I don't want to wear it; I'm afraid to destroy it. The cost for breaking necks. Is it worth it?
Dessert is always on Maria's mind. We finished eating dinner and shortly after she wanted to find a place to have sweets. We stumbled upon Trees Organic Coffee. I was intrigued by their sign, "Voted Best Cheesecake". Usually, when I see a bold claim like that I immediately reach in my pocket for money and try it for myself. Nine times out of ten, I'm a donkey. I'm a sucker. I get tricked again and again. This time was the rare one out of ten occasions. I can see why they got voted best cheesecake. I'm not a huge cheesecake fan, mainly because someone messed up that experience for me, and I never looked at cheesecake the same way. We ordered the Featured Cheesecake (forgot which one), Maple Walnut Cheesecake, and Chocoholic Cheesecake. I was amazed at their cheesecake. It didn't taste like cheesecake; meaning it didn't have a strong cheesy essence. It felt like a hybrid between mousse and cheesecake. It was soft like cake, but spongy enough to keep its cheesecake form. I loved every bite and, unfortunately, we couldn't finish it. We were too full from dinner.
Verdict: I would recommend this to others. I would be coming back.
I'm a sucker for ramen. Whenever I hear a new spot opening up, I have to try it. This time I had to try Taishoken Ramen. I heard some great reviews and was excited to try their Tsuke-Men Ramen (where they separate the soup and noodles). When we arrived, the restaurant was packed. We had a party of eight, and we knew it was going to be hell trying to fit us all in one table. We had waited around for thirty minutes before we got seated. The waitress was very patient and helpful. The decor was similar to other ramen restaurants, wood themed. Two sections from their menu were sold out, Tonkatsu and something else; I can't remember (Miso?). When I heard Tonkatsu was no longer being served, I shifted my eyes more towards the Tsuke-Men; I didn't want the chicken broth options. I ordered the Pork Belly Tsuke-Men and Maria had the Pork Shoulder Tsuke-Men. We thought we weren't going to be satisfied and went ahead and ordered the Tomato Cheese Ramen as well. It took a while for the order to go through, and our Tsuke-Men came out first. I didn't know about this but after receiving my Tsuke-Men, the noodles were cold. I could have ordered the noodles hot (that I prefer on a cold night like this). Otherwise, this would have been perfect during the summer. The soup was lukewarm (room temperature). Since the soup and noodles were separated, the soup was concentrated. The soup tasted great, a bit nutty and sweeter than others. It had a lot of flavors but too bold since it was concentrated, but perfect for this "dipping style". I attempted to drink the soup after I was done my meal, and it was too much for me. The marinated egg was a bummer. I thought it didn't have any flavor and tasted bland. The yolk wasn't gooey or melted and looked more cooked in my opinion. I was very curious to find out what the Tomato Cheese Ramen would taste like. It tasted exactly what the name suggests. To me, it felt like eating spaghetti but in a soup form. The cheese was too overpowering and filling to me. I couldn't find any meat and saw only tofu, I don't know if this was intentional. This dish was not for me, but Maria loved it (so much that she made spaghetti the next day). The noodles were the best part of the meal from both dishes. There was a lot of bite and elasticity (bounce, al dente) from each mouthful. They were made perfectly for slurping loudly, which is not rude in Japanese culture and usually means you are giving props to the chef; this shit is delicious.
Verdict: I need a second try, but for now it would be thumbs down. I would still recommend this place to others because of their Tsuke-Men and noodles.
Next time, I will order the Tsuke-Men piping hot and or try the Tonkatsu.
Sharon was in town, so Maria and I decided to take her out for dinner and do some catching up. After a handful of suggestions, we narrowed it down to Calabash Bistro. I heard a lot of great reviews about this place, and I would recommend this restaurant to others. Unfortunately, I don't know why Tony didn't get the same result. We didn't visit Calabash Bistro on a weekend; the lower floor was not open for business, and there was no live entertainment. I thought everything was delicious except for one dish. We ordered one chicken and one beef Jamaican Patties, Calabash Poutine with Jerk Chicken, Roti with Curry Chicken, Jerk Beef Stew, and Halibut Collar. The patties tasted a lot better than The Reef. It didn't taste like it was sitting out on display all day under a heat lamp. It wasn't dry, and it didn’t leave a greasy or pasty aftertaste. The Calabash Poutine with Jerk Chicken was surprisingly good too. The Jerk sauce gave the fries a good kick. I wish the dish would've been a bit more generous in the sauce department. Otherwise, everything was great. The Roti and Dip were good. It had a good hint of curry in the dip. It wasn't oily, and it held good flavor behind it. The beef stew jerk was disappointing. For some reason, I was expecting an Asian style beef stew with soup. The beef did not come with soup. My initial thought of the beef was a soft, tender and moist, but instead, it was tough and dried out. The beef didn't break or fall apart as I preferred. I found the taste to be a bit salty for my liking, and I didn't taste any jerk. However, I was blown away from the Halibut Collar. It was amazing. The Halibut Collar was the best dish tonight. It was super soft and juicy. It didn't taste fishy at all, and there was a lot of meat surprisingly that it came from the neck area. Also, this dish was not on the menu; it was the special of the day.
Verdict: Thumbs up. I would recommend this restaurant to anyone who is looking for Caribbean food, but be careful your mileage may vary.