X-Site Grill and Bistro

This place always reminds me of my dad, he was the one who always brought my sister and I here for lunch when we were younger. Back then, having the mind of a typical young teenager, I thought X-Site was the funkiest (non-PG) name ever for a restaurant. That was my only impression of the place. Today, my thoughts have become a little more refined and sophisticated (who am I kidding, I still think it’s a weird name. Hahahahh). Anywaaaaaaaaaaay…

X-Site Grill and Bistro is a great choice when you’re ballin’ on a budget or looking for good value for your money. The food is decent and the portions are big. Did I mention they have $6.95 dinner specials, and $5.95 lunch specials (with purchase of a drink) Mondays to Thursdays? Pretty awesome deal if you ask me.

It was a Saturday evening on this particular visit so the restaurant wasn’t packed (presumably because there are no specials on weekends). Baby-Paca arrived first since she just finished her group study at the library nearby. Mamallama picked me up from the gym and we arrived a little later. When we got there, Baby-Paca mentioned that she was ignored after she was seated and that the waitress didn’t even offer here a glass of water until a lot later (at first I assumed it was because of Baby-Paca’s young age). Shortly after Mamallama and I sat down, the waitress came over to take our order. I asked her for recommendations since we were deciding between 3 items, she crossed her arms impatiently and said “They’re all good” with an attitude-y tone. We ended up ordering the teriyaki New York steak and chicken fettuccini alfredo to share among the 3 of us.

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New York teriyaki steak ($9.95):  The steak was served with rice pilaf, roasted potatoes topped with sour cream, green salad and 2 slices of garlic bread. The rice pilaf was lightly seasoned and the potatoes were fork tender. The green salad came with a balsamic vinaigrette, however the dressing just washed off the salad as the leafy greens were not dried before tossing. The garlic bread was standard, but could’ve done with a little more garlic butter. The steak came medium rare, just like how we ordered it. It was mostly tender, but a few bites were a little more tough and chewy (tendons?). I found the sauce a tad too sweet but maybe it’s just me, Mamallama and Baby-Paca didn’t have a problem with it. The teriyaki sauce was a blend of Japanese soy sauce, pineapple juice, honey, wine and ginger. The ginger is forefront, but unfortunately without the spicy zing to it, which may have offsetted the sweetness.

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Chicken fettuccine alfredo ($9.95): Grilled chicken on top of a bed of fettuccine with pesto alfredo sauce, sprinkled with grated parmesan and a side of garlic bread. The chicken was pleasantly seasoned with what tasted like a blend of Italian herbs. The chicken meat wasn’t dry, but it wasn’t exactly juicy either. The pasta was a little doughy and soft for my taste. We were a little hesitant on ordering this plate as Baby-Paca’s not a fan of pesto, but the cream sauce only tasted faintly of pesto, which turned out in her favour. The sauce was not too heavy, just enough to cling onto the pasta.

The 2 plates we ordered ended up being the perfect amount of food for the 3 of us. At X-Site, you get what you pay for. Despite my complaints, the food is pretty tasty and the service isn’t always as unsatisfying as it was today. Overall, X-Site is a restaurant we’ll keep coming back to.

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X-SITE GRILL AND BISTRO
+1 604 298 7483
North Burnaby
4625 Hastings Street, Burnaby

Little Bubble Tea House

Due to the convenience of location and my undying love for bubble tea, my family and I drop by the Little Bubble Tea House 8/10 times that we go grocery shopping at T&T Supermarket. The place doesn’t get very busy, but it has never been completely empty the times that we’ve visited, by virtue of the T&T crowd that pop by for a quick snack or drink. Baby-Paca and I always order the milk cap red tea and the butter biscuit toast. Little Bubble Tea House has been doing a promotion for their milk cap series for awhile now (Only 2.50! +50 cents for pearls).

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Milk cap red tea (奶蓋紅茶) with pearls : Now I gotta mention that the quality of milk cap teas really fluctuate. Sometimes it’s not sweet enough, or sometimes it’s a little watered down (they add water if the the shaken tea doesn’t fill the cup). The worst we’ve had it was when the milk cap was lumpy. I don’t think anyone would appreciate globs of congealed powder in their drink, the texture is just super unappetizing. But when that happens, we simply mix the milk cap into our tea and have it as a regular milk tea, leaving the lumpy bits that won’t dissolve at the top. Most times the milk cap red tea is decent, the flavour of the tea is not too weak, the milk cap is creamy, thick, and frothy and the pearls are faintly sweet and have a bounce to them. However, they tend to give waaaaay to much pearls, I always need to remember to ask for less.

Butter biscuit toast (奶酥吐司): The slice of bread is lightly toasted, the crust provides a nice crunch. The soft bread absorbs all the buttery goodness from the butter biscuit spread without turning soggy. For those who don’t know what butter biscuit spread tastes like, just imagine a mixture of butter, milk powder and sugar that have combined to form a crumbly, decadent paste, much like the yellow topping and filling of cocktail bun (雞尾包), but without coconut shreds. For only $2.25, I recommend giving this a try. I think it’s pretty tasty.

Baby-Paca and I usually look forward to grocery shopping as it usually means that we get milk cap tea and butter biscuit toast (but also because we enjoy picking ingredients to cook dinner with too :))

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LITTLE BUBBLE TEA HOUSE
+1 604 251 7979
Hastings-Sunrise
104-2800 E 1st Avenue, Vancouver

Bubble World

Back in my high school days, Bubble World was one of the popular places to go to after shopping or watching movies at Metropolis. It was also a popular late night hangout spot. I still visit Bubble World pretty often for their Taiwanese snacks and drinks. I’ve been to the one in New West and the one in Coquitlam as well, but I find that their quality of food/drinks are not as good as the one by Metrotown. Bubble World is pretty notorious for having not the most polite waitresses, but who goes to casual Asian restaurants for service anyway?

Baby-Paca and I have been craving taro pearls for the longest time and Mamallama didn’t have time to cook, so she picked me up after work and we headed over to Bubble World for dinner. During the car ride there, I was chatting with Baby-Paca and I casually said “I’d be so sad if they didn’t have taro pearls today.” I wanted to order a matcha slush with pearls and taro pearls, but when we got there, I was informed that they only serve taro pearls on the weekends. I was devastated. I changed my order to a milk cap red tea instead, which is a new addition to their menu, but was told that milk caps were only available on weekends as well. What a bummer. I settled on a milk tea slush with pudding and pearls. Baby-Paca decided on the caramel macchiato slush with pudding and pearls.

IMG_1217Caramel macchiato slush: The slush had a thick velvety smooth texture and was topped with whipped cream and a caramel drizzle. The drink had a strong coffee taste and noticeable caramel flavour. Baby-Paca said it tasted a lot like a Starbucks frapuccino. The pearls were lightly sweetened and chewy. The pudding was yummy and had just enough of that eggy custard flavour.


Milk tea slush (not shown in picture): My milk tea slush today did not taste as good as it usually does. It was a little too milky and lacking in tea flavour. I have been consistently satisfied with Bubble World’s milk tea prior to this visit, Maybe it’s just an off day.

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Pan fried egg roll with dry meat floss (肉鬆蛋餅): This is a snack I always order at Bubble World. I’ve tried it at other Taiwanese restaurants in Vancouver, but they never seem to get it right. The egg and crepe like wrap was rolled up with a generous helping of pork floss in the middle and served with a garlic sauce.

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Fried fish cake (炸甜不辣): These salty peppery fishcakes are golden pillows of perfection. They’re airy, soft and chewy. I always ask for a little dish of the garlic sauce to dip them in.

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Salty peppery chicken nuggets (鹽酥雞): The fried coating was not too thick, and the meat was not too dry. However, I do feel like it’s missing the fragrance of fried basil, which really livens up the flavour profile. The salty peppery chicken nuggets at Bubble World are pretty decent, better than a lot of other places in Vancouver, but nothing compared to what you get in Taiwan. My tastebuds have been pretty spoiled.

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Mountain yam milky hotpot (山藥牛奶鍋): You get to choose the type of meat that goes into the hotpot. We ordered it with beef. The hotpot is served on top of a candle burner to keep it warm. It comes with a bowl of rice and two sauces for dipping, satay sauce and doubanjiang (chill bean paste). For $9.95, there were a lot of ingredients in the pot, and they do not skimp out on the meat. Under the pile of beef and leaflet of lettuce were slices of mountain yam, a variety of fish balls, taro, pumpkin, enoki mushrooms and plenty of Taiwanese cabbage to fill you up. The savoury milky broth also pairs wonderfully with the rice.

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BUBBLE WORLD
+1 604 434 5551
Central Burnaby
4300 Kingsway, Burnaby

Blossom Teas

Blossom Teas is a homely little teahouse tucked away in the corner of a residential area right next to what used to be Mountain Shadow Pub. I visit this place quite often as it is in my neighbourhood and I do love me some bubble tea. Those who live in North Burnaby know the struggles of trying to find a decent bubble tea joint in the area.

I have noticed that Blossom Teas has changed a lot despite its relatively recent opening (late 2013). They used to have dart machines, but I have not seen them around the last few times I visited. Their dessert menu also seems to have shrunk. The fridge by the cash register used to be filled with cakes, puddings, creme brûlées and other house made goodies but they are no longer available and the fridge is now just used for storage. As of now, the only dessert options available are shaved snow and condensed milk toast. Blossom Teas has limited seating so it may not be the best place to hangout if you’re with a large group of friends. However, it’s a good spot to study (free wifi!) alone or with a few friends. The noise level is minimal and the place is usually not too packed with people, customers typically just grab their drinks to go. Most of the staff are friendly and quick with service.

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(Sorry, Baby-Paca and I already took a few sips from the milk tea royale (no ice) and matcha matcha shake (most of the ice cream already melted into the slush)).

My usual go-to drink at Blossom is the milk tea royale or matcha matcha shake. The milk tea royale is made from freshly brewed black tea, organic palm sugar and milk (instead of powder). Unlike the usual milk tea that uses regular granulated sugar/sugar syrup, the palm sugar is salient without being too sweet and has a distinct earthy taste. The tea to milk ratio is also balanced. The matcha matcha shake comes with a stick of green tea pocky and a small scoop of their house made matcha ice cream. The ice cream is creamy and the matcha flavour is apparent. I love that pleasant slightly bitter aftertaste you get from high quality matcha powder, which was evident in the perfectly blended slush. The pearls were slightly sweetened and pleasingly chewy even after steeping in our drinks for quite a bit of time (unlike the pearls in other bubble tea shops which bloat and lose their bounce (QQ texture/chewiness). On a side note, the first time I gave Blossom a visit, I was excited to see that mochi was an option that you can add to your drink, but I was immediately disappointed when my order arrived as it was the type of mochi that you get from frozen yogurt chains (the cheap, soft, starchy kind) and I ended up picking most of them out.

On Mondays-Fridays from 1-6pm, they have a happy hour deal where they offer a choice of Jajang noodles, Sichuan burning noodles or Sichuan chill wontons for $4.99 (regular $6.99) Baby-Paca and I decided on an order of the Sichuan burning noodles and an order of the wontons. These dishes are only available in a disposable plastic container.
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 Sichuan chili wontons: There are 12 whole wontons in an order. The sauce tasted like a mixture of chilli oil, soy sauce, sesame oil and vinegar (most prominent), but the dish was hardly spicy. The wontons were pretty standard (all pork, no shrimp, topped with green onions and cilantro) Not great, not terrible.

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Sichuan burning noodles: The order came with a generous portion of noodles, which were thin and had a nice chewy consistency. The noodles were topped with ground pork, pickled vegetables, green onions and cilantro. The flavour is ambiguous, the sauce tastes like a peppery blend of dry spices. It definitely does not stay true to its name as it is only benignly spicy and does not have that distinct sichuan taste. The pork was on the dry side and all the toppings just seemed like they were thrown together into a bowl. Perhaps it would have tasted better as a noodle soup, I felt like it was missing something that binded all the components together. I did not care for the noodles, but Baby-Paca liked it (although she wished that it was spicier).

Overall, I think I’ll just stick to their drinks.

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BLOSSOM TEAS
+1 604 294 4100
North Burnaby
23-7198 Barnet Road, Burnaby

Forty Ninth Parallel Café & Lucky’s Doughnuts

I have heard many good things about Forty Ninth Parallel and Lucky’s and it has been on my list of cafes to check out for the longest time, however, it’s a long trek just for doughnuts and coffee so I never made my way out there. Luckily, my friend KitKat was there when I texted her about when we were gonna hit the gym later in the day and she started raving about this glorious Earl grey lavender blueberry bismark ($3.50), which she graciously offered to buy for me. She went as far as saying that it was the most delicious doughnut that she has ever tasted (and I’m sure she’s tasted a fair share of doughnuts. Hahah)IMG_1169I was afraid that the doughnut would be placed in one of those paper bags that you would get from other doughnut places like Tim Hortons, but this lovely doughnut came in a box so that the icing on top wouldn’t get smeared everywhere.

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The bismark was covered with a lavender blueberry glaze and sprinkled with candied citrus peel. I’m a little hesitant about food with floral elements as the taste reminds me of soap, but the lavender in this bismark was light and fragrant, and blended perfectly with the blueberry. The doughnut was filled with an Earl grey creme that is gelatinous in texture which was not too sweet and had just enough Earl grey flavour. Neither of the components overpowered the other and they came together in a delectable medley. The dough was soft yet chewy, just the way I like it. The candied citrus peel added a nice crunch and zesty taste, I just wish there was a little bit more of it. It took me a lot of self control not to devour the whole doughnut by myself. I was tempted to steal into the depths of my room with the bismark but I ended up sharing it with Baby-Paca (because I’m such an awesome sister). This calls for a visit to Forty Ninth Parallel Cafe & Lucky’s doughnuts some time in the near future.

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FORTY NINTH PARALLEL & LUCKY’S DOUGHNUTS
+1 604 872 4901
Mount Pleasant
2902 Main Street, Vancouver