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chef koo

Over and Underrated Restaurants

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My advice on Earl's is to enjoy the pizza, cheap wine mark ups and the unattainable hostesses.

I was recently being interviewed. The host asked me if I would ever consider opening my own restaurant. "Absolutely not," I replied, "I know too much about the business. And my sensitive disposition does not lend itself to dealing with the public."

It was not the response she was seeking. "Well, say you did, she went on, "would you rather be chef or maitre d' . . ."

"Neither," I said. "I would insist on being Director of Human Resources at Earls."

Gotta agree with you on that one Jamie :biggrin:

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Over rated Spelling

Under rated punctuation and capitalization.

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under-rated: There's a Szechuan restaurant on Park Road (I think...it is in the complex with the Dairy Queen across from the dentist office) in Richmond with the best "juicy buns" (siew loong bao) ever. There's literally a spoon of flavourful porky juice in each little dumpling! So delicious....

The restaurant is called Ba Guo Bu Yi Szechuan and Yu Miao turns out hundreds of these buns a day! In an article by Tim Pawsey last year, Yu was quoted as saying:

"You see, the secret is how we keep the juicy in. Almost everywhere else makes dumplings too. But they're usually frozen. And that makes all the difference because they'll stick to the steamer when you try to take them out." And lose "the juicy."

lemon curd and I went to Ba Guo Bu Yi yesterday for lunch, with the main goal of checking out the siew loong bao. They did not disappoint! Beautiful, tender dumplings! Forget Caramilk, how do they get the juice inside those dumplings?? Found a picture of them on the Vancouver Courier website here.

We also had the lamb skewers with cumin (nice!), and an assortment of other dim sum items. All very good, and reasonably priced. It's a do-again.

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I know that I am sort of bringing up an old subject but I feel it would be a dis-service to the restaurant if I did not post something here.

I gave Araxi a second chance and I wish to state that I was wrong in saying that I felt they were over-rated.

I am glad that I listened to the other replies here which said to give a place more than one chance.

The service and food and wine were some of the best that I have ever recieved and I highly reccomend a visit there the next time anyone is here in Whistler.

I will post more on my dining experience there later but I wished to say, "I was wrong." (not words that easily fall from my mouth but it is the truth.

Oyster Guy

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First off, I wanted to give props to Oyster Guy for not only giving Araxi another try, but posting on the experience (good or bad). I think this lends a lot to OG's credibility.

Andrew may have answered this question in regards to Feenies. It's really is surviving off the reputation of Rob Feenie.  Would it be doing as well if a no-name had opened it?

I've been thinking about this one too. Does Feenie's survive off Rob's reputation? No, I think the concept is sound (personally I love the "gourment" spin on comfort foods, though I have yet to try the burger w/ foie gras). So I think it would "survive". Would it be doing as well if a no-name had opened it? No of course not! But you gotta do something to earn a reputation, and I most definitely think Rob's reputation is justified. Plus if a no-name opened it, it wouldn't necessarily be cranking out the quality product that it is.

Okay my own 2 c:

Over = Tomato Cafe

Yes I know people on this board love it, and I'm sure this will stir some shite up, but hey my opinion. Let me qualify this by saying that I have eaten there many times and therefore have no overt problem with it (my wife loves it). But I saw a recent gush on this board, and I couldn't figure it out. I personally find it kind of expensive for what you get. Also what's up with the skinny bench seats in the booths on the entrance side? And I have a scrawny ass! Like I said, for me the food is okay, but ain't no gusher. IMHO Thai Away Home beside it is better bang for the $.

Under = Bizou Bistro

I am always satisfied by my meal here. Halibut is always done beautifully. In fact I'm due for a return soon...

Under 2 = Star Anise

Why is this place never talked about? (Or if it is, sorry but I haven't worked my way that far back into the history of this forum). I've only been once, but I really enjoyed the service - the old simultaneous-silver-lid-lifting presentation was great! Food was good too. Pricier to be sure, and maybe everyone wants to spend their $ at Lumiere or West or insert-Name-here (and hey I've got no problem with that), but it was a neat experience and it'd be a shame to lose a place like that.

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Over = Tomato Cafe

Yes I know people on this board love it, and I'm sure this will stir some shite up, but hey my opinion. Let me qualify this by saying that I have eaten there many times and therefore have no overt problem with it (my wife loves it). But I saw a recent gush on this board, and I couldn't figure it out. I personally find it kind of expensive for what you get. Also what's up with the skinny bench seats in the booths on the entrance side? And I have a scrawny ass! Like I said, for me the food is okay, but ain't no gusher. IMHO Thai Away Home beside it is better bang for the $.

I have never had a good meal there. Not bad enough to start a thread about it, but enough that I am not really interested in returning. I mentioned a soup that I thought was not up to snuff once and it was taken away to the kitchen only to return even more watered down than before. My sandwich had about a golfball size worth of stuff in the center, surrounded by plain bread. It just did not impress. I have been about 6 times over the past few years and each has been about the same. I did follow my own "rules" and gave them a second, and third and more tries. Not absolutly terrible, but not worth returning.

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I thought of another one:

Under 3 = Salade des Fruits

I've seen mention of it in this forum, and am reluctant to bring it up for selfish reasons (it's already hard enough to get a seating in there), but IMO it deserves a plug. First, the fries are done the way I like them - the shoestring kind, with mayo. Second, steak frites and moules frites, though simple fare, are great here. I've never been to France (maybe Sept fingers crossed), or Les Halles (next time I'm in NYC), but this is kind of how I envision true bistro food. Plus I love ribeye. You can also get a decent duck confit there, and the house red or white, which I think is their take on vin ordinaire, is not bad. Simplicity done well.

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I think the only people I ever saw pimping The Tomato Cafe were the former owners. The place sucked both times I went there. The Clement's were a PR machine though.

I too like Salade de Fruites but it certainly has a limited wine selection. One bottle of red to choose from. Take it or leave it. BTW the crepes are Sysco brand. Hardly made from scratch.

Edited by Coop to remove political commentary about former owners of Tomato.


Edited by Coop (log)

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I thought of another one:

Under 3 = Salade des Fruits

I've seen mention of it in this forum, and am reluctant to bring it up for selfish reasons (it's already hard enough to get a seating in there), but IMO it deserves a plug. First, the fries are done the way I like them - the shoestring kind, with mayo. Second, steak frites and moules frites, though simple fare, are great here. I've never been to France (maybe Sept fingers crossed), or Les Halles (next time I'm in NYC), but this is kind of how I envision true bistro food. Plus I love ribeye. You can also get a decent duck confit there, and the house red or white, which I think is their take on vin ordinaire, is not bad. Simplicity done well.

[/quote]

I agree completely with you on this one. Simple, good value, and those fries! As for Tomato Cafe, tried it 3X, and now it's off my list. Although I really like the atmosphere there, the food is just okay and pricey for just okay food. (Is it because they use organic everything? Do they, I'm not sure?) The worst part of my meal there was the glass of water, even the lemon didn't hide the taste. The waitress said it's because the bldg. is old, and has old pipes??? Have they ever heard of water filters? How do you think the Tomato will do when Capers is built across the street?

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(Is it because they use organic everything? Do they, I'm not sure?) The worst part of my meal there was the glass of water, even the lemon didn't hide the taste. The waitress said it's because the bldg. is old, and has old pipes??? Have they ever heard of water filters? How do you think the Tomato will do when Capers is built across the street?

Maybe the water falls under their organic philosophy too - don't do a thing to interfere with the natural chlorine + copper taste! :raz:

Is Capers going into the Olive bldg? Interesting. Shrewd. I think the neighborhood is going to flip for Capers. Perhaps in 5 years that stretch of Cambie will become the next uber 'hood. (God help us!)

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Julio Gonzalez-Perini's cooking makes my teeth sweat and I would make a pretty strenuous case that Villa del Lupo might be the most under-rated, or under-appreciated, restaurant in the province.

Perhaps it's because it doesn't have a buzzy bar or patio, or because its had inconsistent public relations handling, but I think that Villa is one the most consistently excellent restaurants around.

I ate there more than a decade ago with Bryan Miller of the New York Times. The meal was astounding and he said so in print. I've taken other visiting food journalists there too--it seems to get as much or more ink from out-of-town periodicals as our own.

For a fairly formal restaurant (perhaps part of its lower recognition challenge) I'm also impressed by the value. With the completion of the adjacent new Wall condominium towers I suspect that many others will be as well.

The risotto, chicken, lamb shank osso buco and many other dishes are amongst the tops of their class.

Free advice: Go.

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Julio Gonzalez-Perini's cooking makes my teeth sweat and I would make a pretty strenuous case that Villa del Lupo might be the most under-rated, or under-appreciated, restaurant in the province.

So teeth sweat is a good thing :shock::biggrin: I agree, though - I've never had a bad meal there - and the service has always been excellent.

Over-rated - it's been said before, but I'll say it again - Anton's in Burnaby.

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GRRRRR....damn computer...
Edited by peppyre (log)

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(Is it because they use organic everything? Do they, I'm not sure?) The worst part of my meal there was the glass of water, even the lemon didn't hide the taste. The waitress said it's because the bldg. is old, and has old pipes??? Have they ever heard of water filters? How do you think the Tomato will do when Capers is built across the street?

Maybe the water falls under their organic philosophy too - don't do a thing to interfere with the natural chlorine + copper taste! :raz:

Is Capers going into the Olive bldg? Interesting. Shrewd. I think the neighborhood is going to flip for Capers. Perhaps in 5 years that stretch of Cambie will become the next uber 'hood. (God help us!)

I have to agree that the Tomato Cafe is over-rated. I was there a few weeks ago with some fellow eGulleters for brunch and it wasn't so much the food that turned me off the place, it was the service. I arrived early to get us a table and the customer service is lacking at best and surly when you do get service. If the food is good in a restaurant I can sometimes overlook service issues, but not this time. I won't suggest this place to anyone and I probably won't go back.

All I have to say about a Capers in the neighborhood; Woohoo!!! It will be nice to have more choices for getting groceries. I was devastated when Produce City was demolished and I loathe shopping at IGA. The Choices on Cambie is the worst in their chain selection wise (it's also a very tiny store) so I will be quite happy shopping in Capers but let's hope the neighborhood doesn't become the next "Uber Spot to live". :angry:

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Is Capers going into the Olive bldg? Interesting. Shrewd. I think the neighborhood is going to flip for Capers. Perhaps in 5 years that stretch of Cambie will become the next uber 'hood. (God help us!)

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Here's another one to add to the Underrated list: Kalamata Greek Taverna on Broadway, a few doors East of Cambie. I dined there this evening with our neighbours, who are pseudo-regulars there. It's a nice neighbourhood restaurant with quite good food. The saganaki was excellent, as was the lamb chops and the prawn & scallop souvlaki. The wine list is rather uninspired but is very inexpensive, and what is lacking in wine is more than compensated for by the food.

Don't go if you're in a hurry - service is slow, but very very friendly. Reservations are a must (on the weekend, at least).

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Although Chef Karen Barnaby is rather active around town, particularly with her new column in the Food section of The Vancouver Sun, her restaurant itself doesn't seem to get much ink either here or in the local media. Maybe I'm just not paying close enough attention. Whatever the reason, I think that The Fish House in Stanley Park is vastly underrated.

It's been a few years since my last meal at The Fish House. Figuring I was long overdue for a visit, I took my Mom out for a leisurely lunch in the park yesterday afternoon. I ordered the Chef's Creation of grilled silverbright salmon with roasted garlic and anchovy butter, served atop buttermilk mashed potatoes together with pickled red cabbage, snap peas and grilled red pepper, all drizzled with smoked paprika oil. My Mom had the "Simple Fish" of the day, red snapper in lemon butter with the same accoutrements as my silverbright salmon. Both cuts of fish were perfectly cooked and perfectly salted. The roasted garlic and anchovy butter (perhaps with a bit of lemon juice or zest to add some tang) was well executed, full flavoured without overpowering the salmon. And the smoked paprika oil was genius. We shared dessert, a coconut cream pie with passionfruit and raspberry puree. Just sweet enough, not cloyingly so, without any heaviness in the cream.

Overall, a lovely meal in a beautiful setting. Less touristy on a sunny afternoon than I had expected it to be. I'll certainly be back.

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Couldn't agree with you more, Mooshmouse. The Fish House keeps getting better and better.

BTW, the manager will be joining us for dinner on Monday. :smile:


Edited by editor@waiterblog (log)

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Flying Tiger opened a while back in the old Living Room Bistro space and there was a ripple of buzz that seemed to dissapate quickly. I went for dinner tonight and was very pleasantly surprised.

It has the kind of menu that usually spells d-o-o-m to me - Pan Asian cuisne which included everything from kalbi and sushi to vindaloo and satays. But this is an instance where the chef's skills beats the concept and acutally delivers the goods in a big way. Tina Fineza (ex Bin and George) does not dumb down the food and the flavors are big, bright and spicy. The better dishes are the Malay and Philipino cuisine that build on contrasting sweet and sour tastes. Sambal Prawns had a sweet start that built up to a hot hot heat. Sambal green beans had a sweet freshness was also lifted by spicy heat. The Indonesian braised chicken had a mellow coconut sweetness and was served with a nicely balanced nasi goreng. The purri bread was tremendous - fried to a crisp hot puff without any greasiness - sprinkled with salt and tangy mango powder - and at $4 an order - our table shared two generous portions.

Dessert was a chocolate ganach stuffed deep fried banana drizzled with a lime caramel - I know, it sounds slightly pornographic. Gooey and delicous.

The prices were very reasonable - most of the larger shared plates hovered in the low teens, smaller plates were well below $10, and various sides were about $4 each. The table shared a bottle of Joie PN Rose for $35 - an extremely fair price.

Tina is there for the next while - I think that it is a worthwhile place to check out if you are in the neighbourhood. Certainly the tapas style menu outshines higher profile places like Stella in my mind.


Edited by canucklehead (log)

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Under rated: The Ordinary Cafe: What a little gem! Great food, great service, nice decor, nice menu, all in all the whole package. "

I could not agree more, however, the Ordinary has been closed for a few months. Chef/owner Dennis Huang is now at The Grammercy Grill on Arbutus. In my opinion, this is an underrated restaurant. The food is of phenomenal quality, the room is cosy and the service is attentive.

Over: I am puzzled by the never-ending line at Tomato. I am always dissapointed be the prices, food and (lack of) service.


Edited by JenBragg (log)

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The line ups at Tomato have always turned me off; can't say I've ever bothered. My parents, however, had dinner there last Saturday and my mother (the biggest critic on the planet) had "the best steak" she's ever had, and my father (who will eat anything) had a fantastic chorizo pasta.

In regards to the Flying Tiger, I must second the rave review of the fantastic food. I wrote about it somewhere on the site in way too much detail so I'll spare you all now save for... go eat there, it is excellent, as is the service!

Oh, and are we still doing over/under?

Y'all are gonna beat me for this but...

Over - West. Myself and a girlfriend (separately) had very poor dining experiences there recently. Service - good. Food - VERY lacking. The amuse was the best part. For that kind of cash, a huge disappointment.

Under - Fiction. Although the menu isn't huge, the food is excellent and the staff are experts in food and beverage knowledge, as well as at making you feel like you are over at a friend's house. It's my favourite spot. :biggrin:

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I could not agree more, however, the Ordinary has been closed for a few months. Chef/owner Dennis Huang is now at The Grammercy Grill on Arbutus. In my opinion, this is an underrated restaurant. The food is of phenomenal quality, the room is cosy and the service is attentive.

oh no...is the ordinary closed? for good??? :shock:

i find both the service and the food inconsistent at grammercy grill. we loved it at first because we followed susan and bill up from their former restaurant down on w. 1st / york (where vintropolis currently is, i believe...?) but after a while, the food and the service seemed to have fizzled out.

maybe i should give it another go with a new chef at the helm.

over: tropika-was there for a friend's birthday last night and the food was overly oily and mediocre at best, especially for the price that you pay.

under: has everyone forgotten about aurora bistro? this may be a good thing (for me) since getting a table is still relatively easy.


Edited by tinyhandful (log)

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Time to revive this thread - anyone have any exceptional or terrible experiences recently?

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Pair Bistro around 10th and Alma. All local or as close as you can get West Coast cuisine. Great service, staff that know the growing location of almost all the products used in the dishes and a well thoughtout wine list that includes many small and unknown BC wines.

My favorite place to take European and US visitors and they are always impressed by the quality and freshness of the plates. Similar to Aurora Bistro but better.

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