Phnom Penh

Hi guys, sorry for the lack of updates lately, but I’m glad to announce that I’m finally done with exams. I’m officially freeeeeee!! I’m in a surprisingly cheerful and happy mood despite how deprived of sleep I am. But anyway, enough about me, I’m sure you guys only read for the food. #NoShame. Hahah.

Let me just rave about Phom Penh. Even the name has the word “nom” in it. Enough said. The magic in Phom Penh lie in their butter beef and chicken wings. They are must order items. I will shake my head at you if you come here and don’t try these two items. Seriously, they’re awesome.

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Marinated butter beef ($13.95): The thin slices of rare beef are served in a sauce made up of complex flavours. It is savoury and tangy, slightly sweet and incredibly flavourful. The cilantro and fried garlic really compliments it. The acidity in the dish totally revs up an appetite. The beef is tender, but a little clumpy and hard to separate into pieces to share, but who wants to share anyway?! Just take the whole dish to yourself. (Jokes!) I have to mention that I have always had an aversion to raw meat, but this is the dish that converted me.

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Phnom Penh deep fried chicken wings (L $13.50): I can only tell you how many times I’ve heard people compare these wings to crack. They are literally addictive. The chicken is fried to perfection, crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside. They’re seasoned with lime salt and pepper. These infamous babies are just unlike any other wings I’ve tasted. They’re so flavourful on their own that I don’t even dip it in the dipping sauce it comes with.

On this particular visit, we also ordered the beef luc lac, a hot and sour soup, dry noodles, a plate of veggies and dessert.

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Filet beef luc lac on rice with egg ($10.95): The beef luc lac is another popular item at Phnom Penh. It is a very hearty dish. The beef is very soft and tender. The flavour is savoury and a little sweet. While the beef is saucy, there wasn’t enough sauce to go with the rice.

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Phnom Penh hot and sour soup with prawns (S $12.95): This Cambodian soup really warms you up. There’s plenty of bean sprouts, sliced tomatoes and prawns in the bowl. It’s sweet and tangy with just a very mild kick,  very tropical and complex. However, the flavours were a bit strong, so a few sips were more than enough for me. Also, this soup would’ve earned more brownie points if they used fresh pineapples instead of canned ones.

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Phnom Penh dry two kinds of noodles (rice and egg noodles) ($7.95): The noodles were mixed with prawns, pork, pork innards, ground pork and dried shrimp. Served dry with a mushroom soy sauce. Make sure you mix the noodles before you eat it because the sauce gets lost. I’m not a fan of innards or dried shrimp and the flavour was pretty lackluster compared to everything else we ordered.

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Sauteed gai lan ($11.75) This particular visit was with Totoro. Totoro always likes to order some veggies. The gai lan was fresh and tender, and the stems had a nice firm and crisp texture, however, they were pretty bland and way overpriced.

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Nine layer cake ($4.85) These little cakes are so fun to eat, I just love peeling them, and eating them layer by layer. Probably psychology, but Baby-Paca agrees with me that they just taste better eaten this way. The texture is gelatinous and a little chewy. Flavour-wise, I’d say it’s comparable to pandan. I don’t actually think they taste any special, but I just like the interactive component, I’m just a kid that likes to play with her food.

Service is pretty minimal as per usual for casual Asian restaurants and cleanliness is a bit permissive at times. Phnom Penh gets pretty busy. There’s always a wait whenever I come here, but the chicken wings and butter beef are definitely worth it!
Phnom Penh Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

PHNOM PENH
+1 (604) 682-5777
Chinatown
244 East Georgia Street, Vancouver

720 Sweets

720 Sweets is a new ice cream shop that just recently joined the dessert scene on West Broadway. They haven’t been in business for very long, but they have garnered quite a bit of publicity already due to their eye-catching, insta-worthy soft serves. The wow factor in their little cups of delight are really the novel use of liquid nitrogen/dry ice that creates a theatrical smoky effect. But when I say novel, I just mean in terms of Vancouver because smoky soft serves have been really popular in certain parts of Asia. It’s about time Vancouver got on the hype.

I had some business around the area and thought I’d give them a try during their first few days of opening. The store is small and has limited table top bar style seating. It was clean and bright and had an upbeat vibe to it. One of the walls had “My head says go to the gym but my heart says ice cream” painted on. I thought that was pretty accurate. Hahah.
IMG_0349I got the Milky Way ($5.95), but I think it’s been renamed the Milk’ee. Essentially, it’s a milk tea soft serve topped with crushed walnuts, light caramel drizzle, espresso grass jelly and a big piece of crunchy almond cookie/biscotti. The milk tea soft serve was creamy, smooth and had a delicious milk tea flavour with just the right amount of sweetness. The almond cookie/biscotti provided a nice textural contrast and the flavour paired well with the milk tea. However, I did not taste any espresso flavour in the espresso grass jelly. It just tasted like regular grass jelly when I had it. Maybe they changed it. But honestly, I didn’t care very much for it, it didn’t really go with the ice cream or the other toppings. It would’ve been a lot better if they were switched with boba pearls instead.

The final verdict? I’d come back again if I’m in the area, but most of my initial excitement is now gone since I have a video and picture of the cool smoky soft serve to post on my blog and Instagram. Nevertheless, the ice cream was pretty tasty.

720 Sweets Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

720 SWEETS
+1 778 229 9278
Kitsilano
3278 West Broadway, Vancouver

Beard Papa’s

A little over a week ago, I had accompanied KitKat to Richmond to pick up some goodies that she had ordered online on the premise that dessert was to come after (Jokes. I would’ve gladly went with her anyway.) After her facetrade at Richmond Center, we wandered around trying to find Beard Papa’s. Google maps had told us that the little cafe was inside Richmond Center, but it was nowhere to be found. We ended up asking the information desk for directions and the lady told us that Beard Papa had moved just down the block.

Unlike most Beard Papa franchises in Vancouver, this location is a sit down cafe instead of just a stall and they offer a more extensive menu. I’ve been eyeing the mochi waffles for some time now, but I don’t travel to Richmond very often,  and when I do, I usually go to the places that are tried and true.

The cafe was bright and had a very upbeat, modern and invigorating atmosphere to it. On the same note, KitKat and I agreed that it looked like a typical sweet little cafe you’d find in Asia.

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KitKat and I ordered a mochi waffle with red bean and green tea ice cream ($8.75). The waffles were cut in adorable heart shapes, perfect for sharing with my lovely date. The waffles, drizzled in condensed milk, were lightly crisp on the surface and had a warm and soft interior. I just wish that the waffle had a little more of that denser, chewier mochi like consistency. The texture wasn’t too distinguishable from an ordinary waffle. The red beans were well cooked, tender and not too sweet. And the ice cream had a nice, strong matcha flavour. I love the contrast of something cold along with something warm.

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KitKat and I also individually ordered a cream puff. i had wanted their milk tea flavour, but they didn’t have them that day, so I settled for the original cream puff ($2). Beard Papa’s cream puffs are baked in small batches and filled to order to ensure that they’re consistently fresh. The choux pastry is always light, airy, flaky and crisp. The vanilla scented cream in my puff was silky smooth, with just enough vanilla flavour. It tasted rich, but it wasn’t heavy at all.

KitKat and I were pretty full after we finished our last bites, but as we pretty much had dessert for breakfast, it left us craving something savoury. Usually dessert would come after our main meal, but I guess we were operating backwards today. We didn’t end up eating again though, KitKat was on a mission, and so we had to ration our time (for shopping. Lol).

Beard Papa's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 BEARD PAPA’S
+1 778 297 7339
East Richmond
1514 – 6551 Number 3 Road, Richmond

Hi Genki

Mamallama, Baby-Paca and I have frequent spontaneous lunch outings with my neighbour Totoro whenever she has days off work. Being foodies, where to eat is always in question. After much deliberation, we decided on Hi Genki.

Hi Genki is situated in the lobby of a senior building. I know it’s a very unorthodox location, but the story behind it is that the owner’s mother was a resident in the senior home, he opened this restaurant so that his mom could eat good food. Isn’t that the sweetest thing ever?

Hi Genki serves up authentic homestyle Japanese cooking. They’re generally pretty busy so if you don’t want to wait, I suggest that you don’t visit during peak hours. Their menu includes curry, croquettes, breaded cutlets, donburi bowls, udon, bento boxes and fish, etc, served with miso soup. Their prices are relatively inexpensive and portions are generous. After eating at Hi Genki, you can also check out the Japanese garden adjoining the Nikkei Centre or visit the little Japanese store to get snacks and treats to take home.

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We ordered the yam tempura to share. They were your standard yam tempura, the batter was thin and crispy and the yams were sweet.

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Mamallama and I both got the spicy chicken karaage donburi, one of the house favourites. The bowl came with large boneless pieces of fried chicken on a bed of mixed greens blanketed over Japanese rice. The chicken karaage was plump, juicy, flavourful and not even a tad oily. They were covered in a (barely) spicy teriyaki sauce that was predominently sweet and savoury. The skin remained crispy throughout our meal. I just wish that the rice had a little bit of their delicious sauce.

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Totoro ordered the salmon kama. The salmon collars were fresh and just lightly seasoned with shio. The salmon had just the right amount of fattiness so the fish wasn’t flakey or dry at all. The mixed greens on the side were lightly tossed with a refreshing citrus vinaigrette.

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Baby-Paca got the yakitori donburi, which was basically a teriyaki chicken rice bowl. The chicken was tender and had a nice char on the skin. There were also a few slices of deliciously caramelized onions in the mix, but not nearly enough. While the yakitori was pleasant, it wasn’t as flavourful as the chicken karaage, but if you don’t feel like fried food, this is a good option.

We’ve heard that Hi Genki serves up a tasty tempura ice cream, but we were too full on this visit to try it out. We couldn’t even finish our donburi. Baby-Paca and I packed up the leftovers and ended up just having that for dinner, which was more than enough for the both of us. All in all, Hi Genki is a gem, I recommend them to anyone who likes homely Japanese food.

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HI GENKI
+1 604 777 0533
South Burnaby
6680 Southoaks Crescent, Burnaby

Lucky Gate Chinese Restaurant

Lucky Gate is a restaurant that serves authentic northern Chinese cuisine. Mamallama, Baby-Paca and I used to visit this restaurant often when we still used to live in the Burquitlam area. Now that we’re in a different neighbourhood, we don’t drop by so often anymore.

We were pressed for time and needed to grab a quick bite before running our errands, so we decided to go to Lucky Gate. Mamallama gave me the responsibility of dragging Baby-Paca’s butt out of bed (you would not understand how much of a struggle this is), so when we sat down, we were all feeling rather passive aggressive towards each other. But as I was handing out the plates that the waitress had dropped off at our table, Mamallama discovered this giant piece of bell pepper sneakily hiding under my plate. It was so random that I guess it broke the tension between all of us and we just laughed it off and carried on.

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Lucky Gate’s noodles are all made fresh in house. Sometimes we even get to see the chef pulling the noodles through the window that peeks into the kitchen.  Lucky Gate is definitely one of my favourite places for Chinese noodles, we always order a noodle dish when we’re here. We decided on the seafood and vegetable chow mein 三鮮炒麵 ($10.99) since Mamallama likes seafood. For all noodle dishes, you get the choice between their hand stretched noodles or their thick shaved noodles. We got it with the hand stretched noodles, which has a dense, chewy texture that I love. The noodles were stir fried with shrimp, scallops and bokchoi in a soy based sauce.

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Chinese style pancake 手抓餅 is also one of our staples at Lucky Gate. While it’s called a “pancake” I think a ringed pastry would be a more accurate description. The compact pastry was slightly crunchy on the surface and soft yet dense on the inside. It has a pleasant subtle sweet flavour. We couldn’t finish the pastry, so we brought the leftovers home. Baby-Paca and I reheated it in the oven later that day and ate it with sweetened condense milk, which of course made it taste even better.

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We also love their shredded chicken with green bean starch sheets 雞絲粉皮 ($5.99)I must say that a lot of Chinese dishes sound pretty strange and far from appetizing when translated into English, but this is a very typical dish that can be found in restaurants in Beijing, or in restaurants that offer northern Chinese cuisine. I have tried this dish in various Chinese restaurants in Vancouver, but a lot of the restaurants don’t do it quite right. Either the sauce is too thin or too vinegary, or the texture of the green bean starch sheets are off, but I quite like the one at Lucky Gate. I do think that this dish may be an acquired taste though. Some people may find the cold and slippery green bean starch sheets kind of strange. I think someone even compared it to snot. I can see why, but Baby-Paca and I still think it’s great, especially on hot days when we feel like eating something cool, light and refreshing. The green bean starch sheets themselves donn’t taste like much, they take up the flavours of the slightly vinegary sesame sauce. The chicken wasn’t too dry, and the slices of cucumber paired well with dish.

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Lucky Gate‘s home style steamed pork dumplings 前門小籠包 (8pcs/$5.99) are usually pretty decent too. However, on this visit, our dumplings were dry and did not have soup in them (which was evident by just their appearance). We told our waitress and she said she’ll talk to the owner, who came over to apologize. She informed us that the timer went off and they were too busy to notice, so the steamed pork dumplings ended up being overcooked. She offered us a new batch, but we were already pretty full and did not want to wait for them to steam, so we declined and she took it off of our bill instead.

Like most casual Chinese restaurants, service was pretty non existent, but the owner was accommodating with their mishap. Luckily, our experience at Lucky Gate didn’t end on a sour note, because we’ll probably miss their food if Mamallama decides to take her business elsewhere as a result of poor service (like Boiling Point. Consequently, I only visit with friends now, so Baby-Paca’s receiving the brunt of it. No more personal hotpot action for her).

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LUCKY GATE RESTAURANT
+1 604 939 8630

Bao Down

I was scrolling through Instagram one day and I came across UYU Ice Cream’s post which informed me that they were extending their $3 ice cream soft opening special. Ecstatic, I immediately messaged KitKat, to which she suggested we grab dinner after work before we head over to our main destination. KitKat suggested Catch 122, but I have been on a splurge lately so I threw out a bunch of cheaper and lighter options, and Bao Down came out the winner.

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Bao Down has a very upbeat, hipster vibe to it. The quaint little restaurant is cozy but has limited seating. We arrived at around 7 on a Wednesday night and the place was pretty packed. Being smart, one of us lined up to order while the other scoured for seats. I scored a table upstairs right next to their mural, which I forgot to take a picture of, but I thought the painted cartoon samurai animals on the wall were adorable.

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My Two World’s Collide!!! ($6) took about 20 minutes to arrive. I was expecting the bao to be warm and toasty, however, they were only room temperature at best. This bao boasts 2 kinds of pork belly; star anise and ginger braised pork belly, and crispy pork belly with a hoisin glaze, along with other good stuff like chicharon (fried pork rinds), carrots, daikon, scallions and gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste). It was like eating an open faced cha siu bao ( 叉燒包/steamed Chinese BBQ pork bun). The roasted flavour along with the scallions and hoisin sauce was reminiscent of Peking duck (北京烤鴨/片皮鴨)but without the actual duck of course. While the bao tasted delicious as a whole, the crispy pork belly wasn’t really crispy, it was actually a little dry and tough.

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The YVR ($7) consists of seared Ocean Wise albacore tuna, avocado, double smoked bacon, sweet soy, wasabi mayo and baby pea shoots. With the first 3 ingredients being among Kitkat’s favourite foods, I knew this was what she was going to order the moment I saw it on the menu. I am a fan of tuna tataki myself, but I felt like the soft and mild flavours of the fish wouldn’t make the best combo with the bao, which was also soft and mild tasting. I had a bite of KitKat’s YVR and my suspicious were correct, it was kind of one-note. I didn’t like it as much as my pork belly bao, which had more of a textural contrast and bolder flavour. KitKat enjoyed it though, with the only complaint being that the pea shoots were too fibre-y and tough to chew. She ended up picking most of them out. But hey, we ordered fries to share, so we still got our serving of vegetables, because fries are basically a kind of potato salad, right? But if you beg to differ, our fries had kimchi too. Hahah.

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The Kimchi fries (small $4.50) came with crispy pork belly, bean sprouts, sweet soy, crispy garlic, garlic mayo and scallions. Again, the pork belly wasn’t crispy. They came in 2 big lumps that were tough and dry. The fries on the other hand, were cooked just the way I like them, slightly crispy on the outside and mushy on the inside without being overtly greasy. The slight acidity of the kimchi went harmoniously with the savoury and subtly sweet soy sauce, and the raw bean sprouts added a hint of freshness to the fries. They did get a littly too salty towards the bottom as they were soaked in sauce though.

While the portions don’t look that big, it was actually rather filling. Altogether, the food was good, but definitely not enough for us to bao down, but I give them an A+ for the punny name.

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BAO DOWN
+1 778 379 3611
Gastown
12 Powell Street, Vancouver

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

Sushi Giwa

Originally, Mamallama, Baby-Paca and I wanted Sushi Town, but upon arrival we learnt that there was a 45 minute wait. Being tight on time, Baby Paca suggested that we try that sushi place that we always passed by on Hastings, so we headed over to Sushi Giwa instead for our quick sushi fix. Sushi Giwa is Korean run, but unlike other Korean run Japanese restaurants, they offer a small selection of Korean foodstuff as well. The restaurant was relatively quiet despite it being peak hours for dinner. The waitress greeted us and brought us to our table promptly.

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Smoked salmon cream cheese roll: The smoked salmon was tasty and combined well with the imitation crab meat, cream cheese and julienned cucumber. However, being accustomed to the smoked salmon cream cheese roll at Sushi Town, I felt like it was missing that hint of sweetness from the red bell pepper. The rice was relatively sticky and a bit on the soft side. The roll came with a drizzle of mayo sauce which I felt was unnecessary as the roll was creamy and flavourful enough on its own.

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Negihama roll: The hamachi was not the freshest and I could taste the fishiness despite the generous amount of green onion in the roll (even after dousing it in wasabi and soy sauce).

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Prawn and yam tempura: The basket came with only 3 pieces of prawn tempura, which I felt was a bit on the skimpy side. Both the prawns and yam were covered in a thin layer of batter, lightly fried, golden and crispy. Unfortunately, the prawns themselves were mushy and had that previously frozen seafood taste. The yam on the other hand was decent, sweet and savory with the dipping sauce.

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Korean seafood pancake: The batter was tasty albeit a little dense and doughy. Only the edges of the pancake were crispy, which was kind of a shame because it would’ve made the dish a lot better if it had that textural contrast throughout. The pancake was sprinkled with slices of green onions, red bell peppers, shrimp, squid and baby mussels. Again, the seafood had that frozen fishy taste so I picked them out and traded Mamallama for her green onions as she didn’t seem to mind the fishiness (she doesn’t eat green onions).
Service was swift and friendly. The waitress came by to ask us how the food was and refilled our tea in a timely manner.

Overall, I don’t think I will be returning to Sushi Giwa considering the vast array of reasonably priced sushi restaurants that offer better quality in North Burnaby.

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SUSHI GIWA
+1 604 336 5250
North Burnaby
5625 Hastings Street, Burnaby