Downtown Vancouver Chapters Board Games Night!

Hey everyone!

So if you live in Vancouver, you may want to check this out! My friend and I stumbled onto this while we were walking around downtown waiting for our friend’s birthday party to begin.

Did you know that Chapters (the one near Howe street in downtown Vancouver) has board games night! It happens on the last Thursday of every month (according to the poster, up to July anyway), and it is free! They had two tables and board games scattered around for you to play with. What is even better? They serve popcorn and juice!

Photo 2013-04-25 7 36 42 PM

Free refreshments? Yes please!

Free refreshments? Yes please!

It starts at 7PM, and our friend’s birthday party did not begin until 7:30, so we decided to sit down and join a game of Taboo! They also had Jenga, Apples to Apples, and the other table was playing some sort of complicated card game. We met a nice group of people, and our table eventually started to grow. The staff kept offering popcorn and drinks to everyone, and it was definitely fun! Shame we could not stay longer!

So if you are downtown on a Thursday night, and it happens to be the last one that month, you may want to drop by Chapters and play a game or two with strangers! It goes on from 7:00PM- closing (which is around 10PM I believe)!

Our Taboo table! :D

Our Taboo table! 😀

Hope you guys are enjoying the sun!

-Karen

Dine Out Vancouver Festival 2013

Hey everyone!

If you live in Vancouver, and have a Facebook, you may have seen an increase in pictures of food appearing on your Facebook Feed. I sure did, and it is making me crave all the delicious plates of food my friends post up!

A lot of these pictures came from friends who did Dine Out Vancouver, a festival that encourages people to go and eat at the many amazing restaurants around Vancouver. What is so great about having this festival in Vancouver is that our city is the home to many different cultures and ethnicities, which can be reflected in the food we serve. If you look through the list of participating restaurants, you are bound to find at least one you will want to visit!

Dine Out offers set menus at different restaurants, all for a fixed price of either $18, $28 or $38 depending on the restaurant. The set menu still offers a bit of flexibility, as they usually have two to three choices for each course of the meal. Reservations are easy, since you can simply do reservations online for most of the restaurants (though some require you to call them), but I highly suggest you book your reservation well in advance. We had some trouble securing a spot in the restaurants we had picked even though we tried making reservations four days in advance. This is understandable as they are busy, and the dates we wanted were all on weekends, which is when everyone else has time to eat out too.

A group of my friends and I went on the first day Dine Out was offered this year– January 18th. We decided to go to the Sandbar Seafood Restaurant located on Granville Island. We wanted seafood, and a menu that was not the most expensive, nor the least.

We all had a lot of trouble deciding what we wanted to eat, and our waitress patiently waited as we hemmed and hawed. I went with the salmon and shrimp salad for my appetizer, and the grilled salmon with rice for my main. I ended it off with a peach and apple crumble, served with gelato!

Overall, it was a good meal, and I enjoyed the ambiance of the Sandbar. It was not our first time there, since one of our mutual friends had her last birthday there, but with the set menu, it really does force you to try out something you would otherwise probably not have ordered! If I had to put a numerical rating on my meal, I’d give it a 7/10.

The menu

The menu

Warm bread that just kept coming!

Warm bread that just kept coming!

My appetizer

My appetizer

My main course

My main course

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second time I went Dine Out this year, another one of my friend and I went to Ciao Bella Ristorante & Piano Bar down by Denman street. It was also a $28 menu restaurant, offering dishes with an Italian flair. I ordered the lobster bisque for my appetizer, grilled lamb chops for my main, and as my dessert, I got the tiramisu! My friend who went with me got their dessert of the day: zucchini chocolate cake. Props to her for being so brave and getting the zucchini cake. Turns out that you cannot taste the vegetable, but what it does is make the cake more moist! Overall rating: 7.5/10.

Lobster Bisque

Lobster Bisque

The lamb main

The lamb main

Tiramisu

Tiramisu

A chocolate cake with zucchini!?

A chocolate cake with zucchini!?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So did you guys go try out a restaurant or two during Dine Out Vancouver? Let me know if you have any you recommend!
(Also, I am hopelessly trying to fit pictures onto WordPress, but I obviously am not doing it correctly! I want to place them side by side…is that too much to ask for!? Anyone know their way around positioning images on here? Much appreciated!)

-Karen

Various Vancouver food reviews

Hey everyone 🙂

So I am officially done first year (as in all my final marks are out for my classes at UBC). I probably will sit down properly and write a post about reflections, just so I can look back and remember how/what I felt, as well as it being able to serve the purpose of being a possible reference to future first years!

It saddens me to say “YAY! I am currently on my summer vacation”– yet there’s only two more days left till I have to start school again. Sucks does it not? Oh well, I hope my summer courses go fine and will help lessen my workload next school year!

Moving on to what I have been doing for my week and a half of break.
What I basically did was eat out with different groups of friends, and caught up with them. I thought I was going to get some exercise in this break, but I just ended up eating a lot. Woe is me.

There is not much to do in Vancouver except eat. Even if you happen to have a day of sunshine, there really is not much you can do when you are under 19. I cannot wait to turn 19 and explore whatever parts of Vancouver I previously could not! Sadly, my birthday is in September, so the exploration cannot happen this summer :(. What many of my friends and I usually do is meet up somewhere to eat and chat. Below is my reviews on the various places I chowed at around Vancouver!

 

1. Milestones
This was the first time I have ever been to a Milestones, despite it being a relatively common chain restaurant in Vancouver. The occasion? My friend’s birthday! The staff was tolerant of us moving around their tables, getting it so that the birthday girl could see and interact with everyone. The food was good, not amazing, but still a good meal. Of course, prices are slightly higher at Milestones, as they offer a nice environment for you to enjoy your food. What was pretty cool was that we got a view of the ocean, since we were at the Milestones at English Bay.

I got the Chicken Californian Burger, as well as a Miami Ice for a drink. Burger was good, but too big for me. I ended up not finishing my fries. The drink was gross, mostly because of the mint leaves. I loved the mango ice tea side of it, but the mint leaves eventually became too overpowering. I was pretty jealous of one of my friend’s seafood salad because it looked delicious! There was a variety of seafood scattered on top of the salad, and just looked really yummy.

Overall rating for this place: 3/5
The rating is mostly due to the price, since their quality of food is decent, but again, not amazing. Hey, I am a poor university student. But since it was my friend’s birthday, I will go with the flow 🙂

Chicken Californian Burger with curly fries

Miami Ice…could have done without the mint leaves

 

2. George
This place is a little win bar situated in Yaletown. The Real Housewives of Vancouver had a brief shot of two of the housewives having a drink there. Do not ask me why I watch that show. It makes me want to claw my face out. But again, it is pretty cool to see a show set in the city you live in.

My friend chose this bar as the venue of his small birthday get together. The menu consisted of a very small selection of food. There was two pages of food, each page listing around a dozen dishes or so. This included appetizers, entrees, main courses and desserts combined. Their wine and alcohol list was very extensive, having two menus full of names I have never heard of. I cannot rate their wines/alcohol since I am not legal yet and cannot try anything, so this review will mainly be on their food.

The selection, as I mentioned before, was very narrow. I got their Albacore Tuna Nicoise. I hate beans, so I asked the waitress if they could substitute some leafy greens for me instead, which they promptly did so. I really liked my salad, and I fell in love with the tuna. I have always had a thing for smoked salmon, and the tuna had the same great smoky flavour to it! Yum! I mostly went for the salad because nothing on the menu really appealed to me. I do not think this is a place one would choose to go to for food, but since I am not yet legal, I did not have that great an experience there.

Overall rating: 3/5
I like the ambience of the place, but I may have to return when I am legal so that I can try out their drinks!  I would also prefer to sit outside next time, since they have a nice heated patio!

Their albacore tuna nicoise

 

3. Pho Tan (Kerrisdale)

My mom and I love vietnamese pho, so on one of our walks around Kerrisdale, we decided to go to this place for lunch. It was full when we got there (it was around 1pm), so we had to wait a bit for a table. Luckily, the wait did not take too long and before we knew it, we had our hot bowls of pho. I got beef balls and rare beef, while my mom got beef brisket. I do not think I could ever hated pho, so I quite enjoyed my lunch here. It is relatively cheap (you can choose whether you want a regular or a large bowl of pho and you can even choose to add extra things in it– all priced accordingly of course), and once lunch rush was over, a nice place to just sit and enjoy your lunch. I was really full by the time I left, and I had an overall good time.

Overall rating: 4/5
Not much to justify except that I am biased towards pho! 😛

 

4. Oyster Rawbar
My friend and I decided to satisfy our oyster cravings, and after I did a little researching, we decided to reserve a table at Oyster. This place is easy to miss, as it is hidden inside the old stock exchange building. It is also super small, having only two tables for small groups, one longer table with high stools, and seating in front of their bar. To get a sense of how small this place is, I will quote my friend: “I am pretty sure my room was the same size or even bigger than the restaurant.” And no, she does not live in a gazillion dollar mansion.

What attracted us was their Buck a Shuck deal. We would be able to satisfy our cravings without destroying our wallets! Again, we are poor university students.  We ended up ordering loads of oysters, flagging down the waitress whenever she walked by. They gave us a small tray of condiments and toppings for us to customize our own oysters, and with that we shovelled them down our stomachs. The oysters were a little small, but we both agreed that it was a place we would return to. What you will have to watch out for is the fact that it is a small, yet semi-popular joint. Their small staff can only shuck so many oysters at once. My friend and I would have to wait around 20 minutes for them to serve us our orders. Keep this in mind before you go and as you are ordering.

Overall rating: 4/5
Loved the cosy atmosphere and cheap oysters. Again, they had a more extensive alcohol menu, but I could not sample it. I will most definitely be returning though!

Inside the small little restaurant

I can feel my oyster cravings working up again..

 

5. Toyama
Two friends and I wanted to catch up, so we decided to look for a place where we could sit down, eat and talk. We googled a bunch of places, but in the end we decided to try out this late night all-you-can-eat japanese restaurant. Late night ayce places are common in Vancouver, but since the one at Toyama started at 9pm instead of 9:30, we decided to give this place a try.

We were not expecting quality japanese food– who really does when going to ayce? However, the food was not bad. They had interesting dishes in there, such as Octopus in garlic butter and fish balls on skewers. I really liked their fried salmon belly! They had the usual nigiris and rolls, and barbecued meat. Drinks and sashimi costed extra, as did their ice cream.

One thing I did not like was the fact that despite arriving at 9:15pm, they were ushering us out of the place pretty soon. It was not due to the fact that they lacked seats, but it was obviously because they wanted to get off work. We ended up feeling like they kicked us out in the end.

Overall rating: 3/5
I have had more relaxed ayce experiences, but the food was still decent and they had a wide range of food.

Could not find a non-instagramed picture, so this one is oddly sized…

 

6. Gyudonya
This was not the first time I have been to Gyudonya, but I must say, it was the first time I had such bad service. That aside, this place is still a good place to eat. They have a variety of japanese type toppings they put on rice. It is very similar to Yoshinoya in Hong Kong, where they give you beef on rice. It is a good price for a bowl that will definitely fill you up. You can choose what bowl size you want. However, this is not a place I would recommend if you wanted to sit down with your friends. It is the epitome of fast food, where your food arrives within three minutes of ordering, and everyone sits in slightly uncomfortable stools aimed at getting you out of there once you are done with your food. Also, if you were done shopping, or it was just a rainy day so you are ladened with various bags or coats, it probably would not be the best choice. There really is no place to put your stuff.

Overall rating: 3.5/5
Good and fast food, but not the best place to settle down for a nice meal.

The chicken and beef rice bowl

 

7. Japadog
I had my first Japadog today. Yeah yeah, I know you just gasped if you are a Vancouverite. Instead of going for their other wacky flavours/toppings, I went for their original Terimayo, where a sausage is placed on a toasted bun, topped with teriyaki sauce, japanese mayonnaise and seaweed. I thought it was really good taste-wise, but highly overrated. Maybe it is because I am asian and these sauces are not new to me, but I expected something more. All Vancouverites have tasted Japadogs, and I was told it was one of a kind and super delicious. Guess my hopes were too high?

What is a Japadog? Well, it does not take a genius to realize the word is just a combination of the word “japanese” and “hot dog”. And that is basically what it is– Japanese style hot dogs. They are more expensive than the ones you would find from your regular street vendors, but they have a huge wacky variety of toppings. To name a few, they have kimchi, dried shrimp and noodles (yakisoba). Definitely not your regular hot dog, where the craziest dogs would just be cheesy or spicy in flavour.

Overall rating: 3/5
I hope I will one day pass by again and be able to try out their other hot dogs, but I still feel this place is overrated. However, if you are not asian, it is a must try, and I can understand why it is so attractive 🙂

The Terimayo Japadog, also known as their original one

So that is all folks! After a good several pounds gained, and my wallet significantly lighter, I would say I put my break to semi-good use. My stomach had a good time anyway 🙂

-Karen

Tis the season to be jolly!: Part 1 (And I am! :))

The 20th of December marked my last day of final exams! I am free!! And survived my first university finals/term one!

Right after my exams, I met up with Carmen! We went downtown to eat lunch at Hon’s…

Us and our noodles ❤

And then we walked around downtown. We wanted to watch Sherlock Holmes 2 so we continued shopping around until 4-ish. However, Carmen suddenly came up with a great idea: to hunt down a takoyaki food cart! Apparently the cart can be found at Howe and West Pender and we rushed there. At first we were slightly disappointed because it seemed like there was no cart…but then when we turned the corner, there it was!

This takoyaki food cart is the cutest thing ever! It was called Osa Tako Hero Takoyaki! The menu featured their food in a game-like theme. First you chose your ‘heroes’ a.k.a how many takoyaki you want. Then you can choose power-ups to upgrade your heroes’ abilities, a.k.a what sauce/toppings you want on your takoyaki! I was really hesitant to try the maple syrup one, but Carmen wanted to. In the end, the guy making the takoyakis allowed us to have a bit of each topping! 🙂 Surprisingly, the maple ones did not taste sweet!

Hero scroll! Choose how many heroes you want :3 And then their abilities on the side!

Carmen at the stall ^^

Our ten heroes with mixed abilities! Ahaha sorry for the blur!

Waiting for the takoyakis took pretty long and since our movie starts at 4:45, it seemed like we were going to be late. We had to walk bad to Scotiabank theatre and then buy our tickets! We were running towards Scotiabank, but then we saw a bus, so we jumped on. We go to the theatre with minutes to spare and bought our tickets. That’s when Carmen and I realized that it was Tuesday and the tickets were half price!!!! AHHH lucky us! ^.^ And we basically got into our seats just in time as well!

Sherlock Holmes 2 was very good in my opinion. Filled with wit and humour, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law’s amazing screen chemistry will never cease to amaze me. Oh, and why must I fall in love with Robert every. single. time. I. see. him. in. a. movie?

So, thank you Carmen for the perfect after-exams day! And LOL to us falling asleep at random times of the day because we were both lacking sleep! I missed you Carmacorn and I am so glad we got to catch up!

Oh and here are my nails for Christmas! 

I wonder what else is in store this winter holiday…

-Karen