• Uncategorized

    Vancouver Travel Hacking Meetup

    We have some very exciting news to share with everyone! We will be co-hosting a second Vancouver Travel Hacking Meetup for all of you. We say co-hosting because we have decided to host with our favourite local travel hacking bloggers, PointsWise!

    We want to take a minute and talk about them because if you don’t want to come to the meetup for us, you sure want to come for them. There is no Canadian Travel Hacking blog that we love more than theirs. Their blog is so full of information which comes in great detail. I (Kyle), frequent all the big blogs that talk about award travel and travel hacking and PointsWise is by far my favourite. Tyler and Brad have traveled extensively on many airlines, have stayed in many hotels and have relaxed in many lounges that whenever I need a review, they’re my first stop. Let’s just say it’s an honour to be hosting this meetup with them.

    The travel hacking meet-up will take place at The St Regis Hotel in Vancouver BC on April 29th from 4-6pm and will cover a variety of topics. Rather than having a traditional ‘speaker/audience’ format, we hope to keep most of the evening informal with plenty of opportunity to network and share ideas! At the meetup we will be talking about a range of topics including the following:

    • Marriott/SPG program changes
    • Manufactured spending
    • Credit card churning
    • Leveraging referral programs
    • Identifying goals and creating a plan
    • Program sweet spots and high-value redemptions
    • Tips to stay organized
    • & more!

    There will be prizes at the Meetup, PointsWise will generously be giving away a one night stay at the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver for 2. Also, those who attend the event will receive a special invite to a private group chat (hosted on Slack) as a way to keep the conversation going.

    If you are interested, the event is FREE but you will require a ticket as space is limited. You can get your ticket here. Those who attend the event are asked to support the venue by ordering food and/or drinks as there is no cost for attending.

    If there is something specific you would like us to talk about, please leave a comment in the comment section below and we will cover it at the meet-up. We hope to see you there!

    Never stop adventuring!

    Comments Off on Vancouver Travel Hacking Meetup
  • MAIN STREET EATS

    Main Street Eats: Ogenki Sushi

    Overall Rating 9/10

    4342 Main St, Vancouver, BC 
    604-875-9975
    Monday 11:00am – 9:30pm
    Tuesday 11:00am – 9:30pm
    Wednesday 11:00am – 9:30pm
    Thursday 11:00am – 9:30pm  
    Friday 11:00am – 10:00pm
    Saturday 11:30am – 10:00pm           
    Sunday 11:30am – 9:30pm
    img_0239-1
    Sushi is the one thing our family can eat any day of the week and any time of the day. Lucky for us, we live in one of the best cities for quality sushi in the world. Ogenki Sushi lived up to the Vancouver sushi hype.
    Originally we were supposed to go to Shameful Tiki Room, but they were reserved well in advance and are not kid friendly so we will go another time when we can go without kids and make a reservation. The place looks very cool inside so we’re excited to go.
    Back to the sushi. Ogenki Sushi looks small from the street but it is two storefronts together to make it bigger. There are a total of maybe 10 tables in the whole restaurant but the kitchen was going the whole time we were there presumably for take out and delivery. They offer their own delivery for $3 (within 3km and $25 min purchase) and also use SkiptheDishes, Foodora and JustEat.
    We were sat in the corner with half bench half chair seating. Ogenki has a large menu like most sushi restaurants around town. They also have special lunch and dinner menus. (Scroll to the end of the menu in the link to see them.) These menus offer a great variety for an affordable price and is what we ordered when we went.
    We were quickly served tea and soon made our order. We ordered:
    Dinner Special – Spicy Tuna Roll, Chicken Teriyaki on Rice, Gyoza
    Assorted Tempura
    Custom Poke Bowl – Spicy Tuna, Edamame, Wasabi Peas, Cilantro, Pineapple, Avocado (+$1), Tomato, Cucumber, Corn, White Rice
    img_0235-1
    Ogenki recently added a Poke menu that you can customize or order from their set poke selections. We made a custom one and ordered a large (three scoops of protein) for $14.95 ($13.95 plus $1 avocado).
    img_0228
    The above photo is what our table looked like after getting our dinner order and before our poke bowl. All of this was very quick to come to our table as things usually are at sushi restaurants we find. There was nothing on this table that we would complain about. Even the salad, which we usually skip, was tasty. The gyozas were nice and crispy on the outside with well cooked pork filling on the inside and a nice sauce to add that little bit more. The tempura was crunchy on the outside with soft veggies on the inside as it should be. The chicken teriyaki on rice was just as we expected it to be, chicken with teriyaki sauce on white rice, pretty hard to screw that one up and they didn’t. The miso soup started our meal off nicely. The spicy tuna roll, a particular favourite of our family was excellent. Typically we prefer when the tuna itself it tossed in the spicy sauce, this tuna wasn’t but for whatever reason it didn’t bother us like it usually does. The tuna tasted fresh and the sauce had the right amount of kick to it to fire up your taste buds.
    img_0229img_0230
    Once the poke bowl came we were pretty full and this bowl was huge! Determined to finish everything we went to work on it. It wasn’t hard to finish this beast because it was so delicious. If you look at what we put into it it was a pretty bis mishmash of ingredients but somehow they worked together beautifully. The corn and cucumber gave a good crunch, the pineapple gave a nice sweetness, the spicy sauce gave some kick and together with the rest of the ingredients everything came together to make an extremely tasty poke bowl that we would eat again right now if we could.
    img_0234
    The prices were not bad at all either. Our whole meal, before tip and tax came to about $40. Considering how stuffed we were when we left we figured that was excellent value for what we got.
    The restaurant was excellent with the kids, too. They had many high chairs which they brought right away along with a booster seat for Nixon to sit on the bench with me. They brought Nixon his own little water and whenever that happens we know that the restaurant knows how to deal with kids well. The other guests in the restaurant were very welcoming to a family with kids joining their section and overall we felt very welcomed in the restaurant with the boys in tow.
    img_0238
    The one negative would be the service. While the service was good, it was infrequent, we had to ask for more drink twice between them taking our order and them clearing our plates. We wished they had come back to check in on us.
    There are many more sushi and Japanese restaurants along the route in the coming months but Ogenki definitely set the bar high.

    Food 9.5/10 – sushi is best fresh and nothing on our plates felt like it wasn’t

    Service 7.5/10 – they took great care of the kids and were prompt with their service. Would like them to come check in on us more often

    Kid friendliness 9/10 – excellent service to the kids, had high chairs and booster seats

    Decor 7.5/10 – pretty typical for a sushi restaurant with light coloured wood everywhere

    Value 8.5/10 – no issue with any of the prices and the combos provide excellent value

     

    Never stop adventuring!
  • MAIN STREET EATS

    Main Street Eats: Chaise

    Overall Rating 6.5/10

    4444 Main St, Vancouver, BC 
    604-874-7114
    Sunday 9:00am – 12:00am

    Monday 10:00am–12:00am
    Tuesday 10:00am–12:00am
    Wednesday 10:00am–12:00am
    Thursday 10:00am–12:00am
    Friday 10:00am–1:00am 
    Saturday 9:00 am–1:00am

    img_0088

    We’ve started to get into the “good” area of Main Street now. We put good in quotations because many restaurants so far have been good but most people consider Main Street to really get good the further you go north.

    Chaise is an interesting restaurant with a very pub-like feel to it; so much so, that when we opened the door we had to ask if they were 19+ or not. They’re not, but this was the least kid friendly place we’ve been to so far. It really felt like not many kids go there and once you’re in you understand why. All the tables in the first two thirds of the restaurants are high top bar tables with stools, not ideal for kids, and then there is a small section at the back with tables and one booth.

    For a Friday afternoon at lunch time it was quite busy. It seemed like a popular spot to stop in at lunch time for a brew and a bite. There were many tables with two people doing just that.

    We sat ourselves at the only booth in the restaurant as to keep the kids in and prevent them from running around too much. They had no booster seats or high chairs which made things a little bit more difficult since we recently moved Vanek out of his bucket car seat that he outgrew so we now have to carry him and seat him with us. We made it work but it definitely wasn’t ideal.

    img_95341.jpg

    img_9535

    We were quickly greeted by our server who took drink orders and gave us menus. They serve brunch until 3pm which is the first place we’ve come across that does that. We didn’t see anyone having a late brunch but we definitely considered it.

    img_9536.jpg

    The menu is pretty large if you consider the brunch menu as well. The restaurant has many “pub grub” options on the menu as that seems to be their style; it also happens to be a style that we quite enjoy.

    My eyes went straight to the Jerk Chicken Flat Bread but as soon as I mentioned that to Sam, she said she wanted the Meatetarian Flat Bread, I think we ended up making the wrong choice but we’ll get to that. I then decided between the Pierogi Burger and the Moroccan Wrap. In the end, we ordered the Moroccan Wrap and the Meatetarian Flat Bread.

    img_9539img_9542

    The Meatetarian Flat Bread was okay at best. To be blunt, it tasted like a glorified Bagel Bite. Remember those? Those were my favourite after school snack growing up. The sauce was kind of flavourless and the toppings were okay. The best bites were the bites where you go the chorizo but there didn’t seem to be too much chorizo on there.

    img_9540img_9541

    The Moroccan Wrap on the other hand was a hit. I loved it. One thing I hate about wraps is when you get halfway through eating it and it starts to fall apart. This wrap was tightly packed and wrapped properly so that the whole thing stayed together the entire time. That’s a win right there. The flavours were excellent as well. I love tzatziki and there was just the right amount of it in the wrap. Due to the garlic in the tzatziki it is very easy for it to overpower a dish if not portioned properly. Chaise nailed it though. The garlic from the tzatziki was just what this dish needed to compliment the couscous and other veggies. The tzatziki also provided a nice cold contrast to the heated up wrap. The chicken was cooked perfectly and the whole wrap was delicious.

    img_9537

    Our service was okay. Not great by any means. Our server was often slow to come back to our table. The best thing she did was bring Nixon his own water in a small glass. We didn’t ask for it but it was greatly appreciated because we both like lemon in ours and Nixon likes his plain so it’s not ideal for him to share with us. Other than that, the service felt standoffish. We felt like because we were there with kids we weren’t important for some reason. Even once we had paid at the end, the server never came back to tend to the machine or offer us our copy of the receipt so we just left.

    img_0092img_0093

    The value was okay as well. The wrap and the flat bread were fairly priced but the mains seem quite expensive. We didn’t order them so we can’t speak to the quality or portion size but hopefully both are on the better side at prices over $20. For a pub style restaurant that seemed high in our opinion. Our meals were fair though.

    img_0090

    As we mentioned earlier, the kid friendliness was the lowest we’ve seen so far. Other than the server bringing Nixon his own water there was nothing for the kids. No high chair, booster seat or kids menu. Although we weren’t expecting a kids menu here.

    In the end, we probably wouldn’t return here, but we’re very curious to see what that Jerk Chicken Flat Bread tastes like.

    Food 7/10 – one lame flat bread and one excellent wrap

    Service 5/10 – fair, we didn’t get much attention and weren’t valued customers

    Kid friendliness 1/10 – the server was kind enough to bring Nixon his own water but since it’s basically a pub so we weren’t expecting much and this score will not be included in our overall score of Chaise

    Decor 7.5/10 – wooden pub style, done well but nothing special

    Value 7/10 – the mains seemed to be overpriced but we didn’t try them, our meals were fairly priced

    Never stop adventuring!

    Comments Off on Main Street Eats: Chaise
  • travel

    Luxury Done Right: Fairmont Hotel Vancouver Review

    So if you read our last post about staying downtown for the night, you’ll know that it was anything but luxury from Best Western’s “luxury” hotel in Vancouver. So this time, we decided to go with the guys we know do luxury right. Fairmont.

    img_9169

    The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver is an iconic building in Vancouver and rich with history. Opened in 1939, it’s been around a while and there are parts of it where you can tell. Luckily, we got a room that was on a floor that had been updated. Other floors are still being renovated until all the rooms are up to date. There is no timeline for when the hotel will be fully updated but construction is limited to 9:30am – 5:30pm. We didn’t hear anything while we were there.

    img_9181

    Check in

    The process was seamless. We showed up to the desk and were asked for our name and credit card. The front desk agent mentioned we were booked into a Fairmont Room and mentioned it was a great choice. Before he gave us our keys he mentioned that he saw we were celebrating a birthday and he wished Sam a happy birthday. As he gave us our keys he told us he had given us a complimentary upgrade to a Deluxe Room as a special birthday present from Fairmont to us. Georgian Court, you listening? This was already off to a much better start.

    img_9170img_9171

    Room

    The room was huge. Fairmont’s website states that these room are 450 – 500 square feet in size. That’s the size of some downtown apartments. Although, we have no idea how some people could live in something that small. The room had a much different layout than we were used to. As you walked down a long hall there was a closet at the end, if you turned right it opened up to the room. There was a chair and ottoman in one corner with a lamp next to the big window in our room. Then in the opposite corner was a dresser with the TV on top. Beside that was a desk and office chair. Across from the window was the big kind bed. Then in the far corner of the room was the door to the bathroom. Picture it like this, the bathroom is on the other side of the wall that the headboard of the bed touches. Our only complaint would be the size of the bathroom as it was on the small side and tight with two people in there. This was the first hotel we’d ever been in that had such a layout. After staying in the room, we kind of liked it like that. The room felt bigger because there wasn’t a bathroom taking up usable space. The bed itself was amazingly comfy and we both slept like babies.

    img_9178img_9177

    img_9173img_9176

    And, when we got to our room we had a couple nice gifts waiting for us. There were some white chocolate covered strawberries which were delicious and a personalized welcome card. I am part of the Fairmont Presidents’ Club, which is being discontinued in 2018, and they do these little extra things for their members. Inside was a free shoe shining ticket and some hotel info including WiFi password and check in/out times.

    img_9402img_9415

    The hotel was an awesome experience from the customer service to the room to the hotel’s rich history. There is tons of shopping on the ground level of the hotel, way out of our price range but it’s there for those who can afford it. The restaurant is supposed to be very good as well although we didn’t eat there. The pool is heated year round and is covered. There is a kiddie pool at one end which when we first got there we thought was the hot tub, it isn’t. The pool is heated to a comfortable temperature but definitely does not replace the desire for a hot tub on a cool winter’s night.

    Overall, we had a great time here and Sam has requested we make this a birthday tradition she liked it so much. This place is a must stay and if you use our little trick, you can save up to $75!

    Never stop adventuring!

  • MAIN STREET EATS

    Main Street Eats: Chickpea

    Overall Rating 9/10

    4298 Main St, Vancouver, BC 
    604-620-0602
    Sunday 10:00am – 11:00pm

    Monday 11:00 am–11:00 pm
    Tuesday 11:00 am–11:00 pm
    Wednesday 11:00 am–11:00 pm
    Thursday 11:00 am–11:00 pm
    Friday 11:00 am–Late
    Saturday 10:00 am–Late

    img_9692

    Chickpea was not next up on our list but it was the closest restaurant to our next one that was participating in Dine Out Vancouver. We thought trying some restaurants’ Dine Out menus would be a great way to try more of a their menu. Since making that decision, however, we made another decision to go on a last minute trip to Bali so Chickpea will be the only Dine Out menu we get to try. We will resume the order once we get back but due to this trip there will not be another review until the week of February 11.

    Let us start out by saying that we are not vegan. If you’ve been following along for any length of time you’ll know we eat meat and we really enjoy it. So, when we decided on a vegan restaurant we must admit we were hesitant. Vancouver is a big hub for vegans and it, from what we understand, has exploded in the last few years with high quality vegan restaurants.

    That being said, there was a time about 6 years ago when I, Kyle, had to go on a strict dairy-free, wheat-free, sugar-free, alcohol-free diet for some health issues. Veganism, from our understanding holds to the dairy-free aspect of that diet and the others are personal preference. The dairy-free part of the diet was by far the hardest. I mean c’mon, no cheese?! No milk?! That’s a daily thing my body enjoys. Back in 2012, the dairy-free options were not good, not like we have today. I was having cardboard “cheese” and a sad attempt at mimic dairy products. The almond milk, however, has stuck in my diet ever since. So, with that background, you hopefully understand our hesitancy knowing Chickpea, a vegan restaurant, was where we were headed.

    Man, were we wrong. This was probably the best restaurant we’ve eaten at so far. We were absolutely blown away. From the second we entered we knew this was gonna be good. We were welcomed by a very friendly gentleman who made us feel as if he was honoured to seat us. He gave no indication he knew who we were or anything about this journey, he just seemed very happy and one of those people who genuinely enjoys his job. He did tell us it was his first day and it seemed like it was a good one.

    img_9691

    We were sat at a table that was under a tree with birdhouses hanging from it. A nice table for 5 since we had my mom with us that day. We were quickly waited on by an awesome girl who took our drink orders and brought us waters.

    img_9675

    The Dine Out lunch menu (click the link for the dinner menu also) was straight to the point. 3 options for lunch and since there were 3 of us we each picked one. I got the Chicktea to drink and Chickcheese sandwich, mom got the chocolate almond milk (for Nixon) and the Malawach and Sam got the Limonana and French Toast. We got both of the baklavas for dessert.

    img_9677First off, we were all fighting a cold this day and the chicktea was perfect. It was essentially just lemon, mint and hot water which was perfect for soothing our colds. The Limonana was frozen lemonade with mint which was amazing and on a hot summer day would be ideal. The chocolate almond milk was a disappointment as it came with ice and was super watered down. Nixon didn’t care though.

    img_9680

    We didn’t go here for the drink though. We came for the food. And the food was the bomb. Oh. My. God. This food was so good. Remember, in our minds, vegan food was cardboard crap; this place revived our faith in vegan food. The chickcheese sandwich somehow tasted like it had actual cheese in it; I don’t know how they did it but whatever they did to it was perfect. It had so much flavour and was very filling. It tasted no different than an actual grilled cheese, just with more vegetables than we usually put in our grilled cheese. The salad it came with was a nice refreshing element on the plate also.

    img_9684

    Of course we had to all try each others’ dishes. Mom’s malawach could be described as a chickpea burrito. A very generous helping of chickpeas accompanied by many other veggies and spice. By now you know how we feel about spice so this was an excellent dish. She couldn’t finish it so we were more than happy to help her out.

    img_9682

    Sam’s french toast was amazing. Obviously they couldn’t use traditional egg wash so as you can see on the menu they just do almond milk and sugar. Having sugar in the wash and no egg leaves for the chance to easily burn the toast, but obviously they’ve done this a time or two before and didn’t burn it. The sautéed bananas were delicious with a nice touch of cinnamon and then the coconut whipped was to die for. No idea what kind of dairy-free cream one would use to make whipped cream but they nailed it.

    img_9686

    The baklava was tasty as well and it came with the coconut whipped cream we already loved from Sam’s french toast. To be honest, neither of us could tell the difference between the two, they were both good although if it didn’t come with our meals we probably would have skipped dessert since we were so full from our meals.

    img_9687

    img_9674

    The service was great also. Constantly coming by to make sure we were taken care of and our drinks were full.Chickpea is licensed for those of you wanting a more adult beverage. Our food did seem to take longer than usual. Neither of us have ever worked in the restaurant industry but from people we’ve talked to the goal is usually to get the food to the customer within about 20 minutes. We waited just over 30. Other than that we had no service issues.

    img_9685

    Chickpea was the first restaurant to really cater to families. As soon as we walked in we saw plenty of mothers with their kids and we could see why. There is a whole corner of the restaurant designed as a play area for kids. There is a table close by so we could see that table getting annoying for customers so we assume Chickpea seats the families at these tables. The mats at the kids area were slightly dirty but that is bound to happen with kids coming in on rainy days. As long as they get washed daily we should see no issue letting your kids play here. There was plenty to do and Nixon had a blast there. When the very happy gentleman sat us at our table he also brought a high chair over.

    img_9677

    The Dine Out menu was great and we felt $20 per person was a fine price to pay. Not incredible value but not bad enough to complain especially since the food was amazing.

    img_9688img_9690

    The decor was super cool. Not a style we would put in our house but a style that gave a cool atmosphere for a restaurant. We don’t even know what you would call the style but we found it really cool.

    All in all, this is the first place we are excited to go back to and explore the rest of the menu. We had a great time here and we left with our bellies full.

    Food 9.5/10 – everything was delicious, no complaints

    Service 9/10 – kind gentleman seated us and the girls who waited on us were great

    Kid friendliness 9/10 – best place we’ve been to so far, kids play area was great but kinda dirty which was the -1, had high chairs

    Decor 9/10 – nothing special but not terrible 

    Value 8.5/10 – the Dine Out menu was great, maybe a little high at $20 for lunch but the food was amazing so we can’t complain too much

    Never stop adventuring!

     

  • LIFE

    So… We’re Going to Bali…

    After a whirlwind past couple days and an unfortunate airport incident on my brother’s Southeast Asia trip, Sam and I have decided to go join him for several days in Bali. Sam will stay for about 10 days and I will stay for 14 days.

    Yes, that’s right, in the past 48 hours we decided to leave our kids for several days and head over to Bali to travel with my brother. Thank God for amazing grandparents with flexible work schedules. It has been hectic trying to pack ourselves and pack for the kids but we are very excited. Obviously because Bali is beautiful and it’s going to be amazing but also because we’re flying there in First Class with Cathay Pacific. You can read all about the First Class Experience on Cathay Pacific here.

    Yup, this is one of the joys of having points. If you haven’t been following along, a few times per month I write a points/travel related article to help people begin their award travel journey and be in situations where you can afford to fly in seats you could never afford and sleep in hotels you usually ogle at from the outside. If you want to follow along please check out our TRAVEL section.

    We are flying Vancouver to New York on Cathay Pacific’s Fifth Freedom Flight then New York to Hong Kong in First Class then Hong Kong to Bali in Business Class.

    A Fifth Freedom Flight is a flight operated between two countries where neither country is that airlines’ home country. When flying, airlines must be departing or arriving in their home country. For example, Cathay Pacific is stationed in Hong Kong so all of their flights must be departing from or arriving in Hong Kong. Fifth Freedom Flights are the exception where certain airlines can operate certain routes without arriving or departing in the home country.

    It is a weird route to go to New York, the opposite direction, then to Hong Kong but guess what? That just means more time for us in First Class. About 22 hours in the air in First Class to be exact.

    If you haven’t noticed by now I am very excited. Cathay Pacific has one of the best First Class products in the world and they’re notoriously difficult to find space on. You usually have to book within a week of departing or if you’re lucky you can book about 330 days in advance although availability is much more difficult to find. They also boast some of the most luxurious lounges in the world to relax before your flight. Check out this lounge in Hong Kong.

    This flight is going to cost us about $250 CAD in taxes and fees. If we paid full price for this flight itinerary it would cost us almost $60,000 CAD.

    Unfortunately, on the way home we have to fly economy with the regular folks ;). That’s going to be rough.

    If you want to follow along on our adventure, follow us on Instagram @adventureneverenns where we will be posting and doing stories. We are on the way to the airport now and will start doing stories shortly.

     

  • MAIN STREET EATS

    Main Street Eats: Pho Tan Restaurant

    Overall Rating 6/10

    4598 Main St, Vancouver, BC 
    (604) 873-3345

    7 days a week 10:30am – 9:00pm

    img_9504

    img_9497img_9496

    Our first pho restaurant along the way was this past week was Pho Tan Restaurant. We love pho, both of us and Nixon love pho, a lot. A user on Reddit, u/ruddiger22, warned us about all the pho coming up and we were excited about that.

    Pho Tan is a nice little restaurant with maybe about 12-15 tables. It’s not big by any means but we all know that means nothing in terms of quality. We were welcomed nicely by a gentleman and sat at our table. Tea was brought immediately and we were given menus. The service was off to a good start.

    img_9488

    We weren’t super hungry this day but we obviously had to order some pho. It was the perfect pho day too, cold and rainy, or as we call it, just another day in Vancouver. We decided to order one other item on the menu to see how the rest of the menu was. Our order was two items: large pho with steak & brisket and banh cuon (ground pork wrapped in Vietnamese steamed rice roll).

    img_9492-e1516130988779.jpg

    Our pho sides came right away with the regular sprouts, lime, jalapeno and basil. Sam and I like to do our pho differently. We prefer our pho slightly differently. I like to add sprouts, lime and spice coming from the jalapeno. Sam likes to add sprouts, lime and spice from the hot sauce. We both love hoisin sauce also.

    img_9494

    The large pho came in a big bowl and easily fed the both of us. Anyone who has ever had pho knows it is all about the broth. Without a good broth, no pho is complete. This broth was good. Just good. Not the best pho we’ve ever had but definitely not the worst. The broth was good and that’s the most important part.

    img_9502

    The banh cuon on the other hand was not good. If any of you are like Sam and are texture eaters, you will not like this. I could only get through one before I had had enough. The menu describes the dish as “ground pork wrapped in Vietnamese steamed rice roll” so I expected to have a roll presented in front of me when the dish came. Expect they weren’t. they came more as patties. You can see in the picture how they were presented. The taste was okay. The roll itself was pretty tasteless but the texture was what got to me. I’m usually okay with any texture but the roll was extremely “gummy”. Like, stick-to-your-teeth-like-taffy-does gummy. I got through one so I could get the whole taste but I didn’t even know how to eat it. Chopsticks with one bite? Pick it up with my hands? Ask for a fork and knife? I broke it into pieces with my chopsticks and ate it that way. If I ate it wrong please let me know. In the end, the banh cuon left the table with only one of them eaten. It came with four.

    img_9495

    The value was quite good. We felt $10 for enough pho to feed two people was more than generous. We had no problem paying that amount for the amount of food we got. $7 for banh cuon though was a little much at almost $2 per “roll”. But if you’re going to Pho Tan we assume you’re ordering pho anyways.

    img_9493

    The service was good. We were seated right away and brought tea immediately as I mentioned earlier. On the other hand, when we asked for ice water we had to ask twice before we got any. I’m assuming our server just forget and it wasn’t a huge deal.

    One thing to note before you go to Pho Tan is that they are cash or debit only. No credit cards. There is also a $5 minimum charge per person.

    In the end, we would return to Pho Tan but only for the pho.

    Food 7/10 – one good item and one not good, only get pho

    Service 8/10 – not outstanding but no complaints

    Kid friendliness – high chair, no kids menu but the kids ate what we ate

    Decor 6/10 – nothing special

    Value 8/10 – good for the pho

    Never stop adventuring!

     

  • MAIN STREET EATS

    Main Street Eats: Christmas Break

    Hey guys,

    Just wanted to let everyone know that Main Street Eats will resume after the Christmas Break. We are super busy right now with extra work and Christmas parties/festivities.

    Don’t forget to go to Canyon Lights this month.

    Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

    Never stop adventuring!

    Comments Off on Main Street Eats: Christmas Break
  • MAIN STREET EATS

    Main Street Eats: Chevere Eh!

    Overall Rating 3.5/5

    6440 Main St, Vancouver, BC 
    (604) 565-9983

    Monday – Saturday 12pm – 8pm, Sunday 12pm – 6pm

    img_9366

    Chevere Eh! has eluded us up until now. Their website is not consistent with what Google says about them in terms of hours and even after phoning the restaurant to get their hours they have just changed again. The hours are above are current as of today as I just got off the phone with the owner. This is the first week that these hours apply. We went yesterday and it was her first Sunday being open in months. She was open 5pm-9pm and was unsure as to how the night would go but had 4 phone calls for take out when we got there at 5pm. We had called beforehand to see if we could order at 430pm and pickup at 5pm and she had no issue with this.

    img_9364

    As an owner, she is a very sweet lady. The kind that you root for. She runs the whole restaurant by herself. The restaurant is mainly take out orders and Skip the Dishes is her biggest client by a large margin she said. The restaurant has only been open for about 7 months and business has been great. She is hoping to grow the business big enough so she can move down Main Street and be closer to the bigger restaurants further down.

    img_9362

    We were excited to try the food as Venezuelan is a cuisine neither of us had tried. Of course we’ve had burritos and tacos before but never from a Venezuelan restaurant so we were curious to see if we noticed a difference.

    img_9365

    Unfortunately, the food was underwhelming. We were quite disappointed as we wanted this to be a big hit. The owner was super kind and we wanted so badly to give her a good review to help her achieve her dream of moving to a bigger location. But we aren’t going to lie and let our emotions influence our reviews.

    We ate with my brother and dad so we made sure to order as much variety as we could. We ordered the following:

    3 Arepas (one chicken, one pork, one beef)

    1 burrito (beef)

    3 orders of tacos (one chicken, one pork, one beef)

    1 quesillo

    Portion wise everything was great. The tacos were much smaller than we thought they would be but since you got 3 it was a fair portion.

    img_9352

    The arepas were a very good size but ultimately, as with the rest of the food, were dry. Anytime you eat something that is carb-based and it is dry, it doesn’t taste good. You know that feeling where you have to chew something extra because of how dry it is? That’s what we had to do with the arepas. The filling itself was even a little dry. The beef was the best one we had as it was still slightly moist. The chicken was quite dry as was the pork. These were disappointing.

    img_9351

    The tacos were the same as the arepas. To preface this, neither of us are big fans of corn tortillas because we always find them dry. We prefer flour but we are well aware that corn tortillas are the authentic way to do tacos. And double up on the tortilla. These were done exactly like that, corn tortillas and doubled up. We ate them with just the one tortilla and they were okay. Again, the tortilla tasted very dry and the fillings were actually quite bland. By looking at the filling you could tell it was the exact same as what was in the arepas but maybe the cheese in the arepas helped with the flavour of the arepa because in the arepa it tasted different. Most of the taco filling had no flavour, luckily they came with sauce that helped.

    img_9356

    The burrito on the other hand was a complete 180 from the rest of the meal. If you go to Chevere Eh! I highly recommend the beef burrito. It’s not make with ground beef but rather shredded beef. The rice was nice and moist. All the filling was packed in neatly and the burrtio was wrapped perfectly. Nobody likes eating a burrito that is going to fall apart halfway through. This one didn’t. The ratio of rice, beans and meat was perfect. We have nothing bad to say about the burrito and it was definitely the savoury saving grace of this place.

    img_9355

    The quesillo was also very good. We love flans and this one was no different. I’m not a huge fan of coconut which this was topped with but Sam loves coconut so naturally she enjoyed it much more than I did, though I still quite enjoyed it.

    We can’t comment on the coffee or the soup of the day as we didn’t order either.

    The value was okay. The prices were fair but we just wished the quality was a little bit better. If you just base value off of price to portion then everything was very fairly priced. Unfortunately, the quality just wasn’t there with everything on the menu. We’re rooting for this place and the owner but as of right now, it isn’t near the top of our list.

     

    Food 3/5 – dry and bland but the burrito and quesillo saved it from a lower score

    Service 5/5 – very sweet lady and even let us order before she was open

    Kid friendliness N/A as there is almost no space inside and is mostly a take out restaurant

    Decor 5/5 – fun, inviting place with cool colours and a nod to Venezuela

    Value 3/5 – portion size was fair but quality was lacking

     

    Never stop adventuring!

     

    Comments Off on Main Street Eats: Chevere Eh!
  • FRUGAL FRIDAY

    Main Street Eats: Van Tea Cafe

    Overall Rating 4.5/5

    5688 Main St, Vancouver, BC 
    (604) 565-9983

    7 days a week 9am – 11pm

    This week we had to skip Chevere Eh! due to their incorrect hours on Google and not being able to seat our party when we went. We went down twice and both times we had to go elsewhere for the above reasons. We will review them next week.

    We did get to try a brand new restaurant, only open for 2 weeks, though. Van Tea Cafe. From our research it looks like this location used to be called The Roc. As we walked in, the first thing we noticed was that we were the only white people. It seemed very family friendly and a place Chinese people seemed to enjoy bringing the family to. The next thing we noticed was how nice it was inside. Being a new restaurant, we would assume it should look nice still. Everything was clearly new and we all agreed this was the second restaurant, besides Roots Cafe if you call it a restaurant, where you could tell that the decor really mattered.

    The staff were very welcoming as we the other guests who enjoyed looking at and playing with our kids. We were seated and quickly greeted with tea. It was a tea we had never had in an Asian restaurant before. It wasn’t green tea, none of us could explain it but we hadn’t had it before. It was delicious, though.

    The menu at Van Tea Cafe is expansive; if I remember correctly, it was 8 double sided pages. We looked at it for a long time to try and get an idea of what to order. We did ask our waitress what she recommended and she looked at us and smiled then said, “you would like the sweet & sour pork.” Well, she wasn’t wrong, we all do enjoy that dish but we’re here to try more than the “white people food”. We asked her for another minute so we could decide. We decided upon Spicy Fried Fish in Banana Leaf, Peanut Chili Chicken and we did order the Sweet & Sour Pork. We tried to be a little more adventurous than in the past but for those that think we weren’t adventurous enough, remember, sweet & sour may well be the most popular dish for white people in her experience, which would make it worth reviewing, even if just for the white people who go there, so we ordered it. We chose the other two dishes. We also added an appetizer of roti.

    We were brought two soups right away, one borscht and one we’re not sure of. It had chunks of bone in it and there was some meat on the bone still. It tasted like a chicken noodle broth but that bone was not from a chicken. Either way, both we excellent and coming from a Mennonite background, bring on the borscht!

    img_9282

    When eating at this restaurant, we suggest ordering dishes and making them share plates. That’s how they are served and I assume it is for that reason. The portions are very large as you can see from the pictures. We finished all the sweet & sour pork and the others were close; there was one piece of fish left and about a quarter of the peanut chili chicken. The roti was basically finished, maybe one piece left.

    img_9286

    The roti was awesome. It was came with a chinese curry to dip into which was excellent also. If there was a complaint about this dish it would be that the roti came out slightly greasy.

    img_9285

    I’m glad we ordered the sweet & sour pork regardless of how adventurous, or not, of a choice that was because it was easily the best one all of us had ever eaten. There was truly sweet and sour and the contrast played beautifully as it hit your tongue. Mix your bite with the green pepper or pineapple and it was even better. There’s a reason that was the only dish we finished. There isn’t much more to say about it, it was the best thing we ate that day and the best sweet & sour pork we’ve ever had.

    img_9288

    The peanut chili chicken was also great. Spicy, though. Spicy enough that if you aren’t a fan of spice it would be worth avoiding, or you could just try taking bites that didn’t include pieces of chili, but it’s all cooked together so you judge for yourself. The peanuts were left with the skin on, something we probably could have done without but it didn’t take away from the dish at all. This dish had more salty flavour than any other flavour we tasted but it was well balanced with the spice to make a perfect match. The portion of chicken is the dish was generous which is always appreciated and a sign they weren’t willing to cheap out on a dish.

    The spciy fried fish in banana leaf was our most adventurous order not knowing what to expect at all. There was no description of how it was served, what kind of fish it was or anything really. It came in a shallow cast iron pot served on top of a banana leaf; it was a great presentation minus the lack of colour outside of the leaf itself. It was topped with a chunky brown topping where the only thing I recognized was onion. As the word ‘spicy’ was in the title we expected spice out of this dish and it was. If the peanut chili chicken was a 6/10 on the spice scale, this dish was at least an 8/10, probably a 9/10. The fish was soft and flaky and fell apart with just your fork, perfectly cooked. For an adeventurous order, we would all eat this again.

    img_9292

    The value of Van Tea Cafe was phenomenal. Even before the 10% grand opening discount we were very impressed. We forgot to take a picture of the menu and there is no website yet but most dishes range between $12-18. Appetizers are all under $10 as are the desserts. Our total was about $51 for 3 entrees and 1 appetizer after tax. After the discount, our bill was $46 and change. We also got one meal of leftovers out of it. We wer too stuffed to try dessert but the waitress said the red bean pastries have been there most popular by a mile so far.

    One annoying thing about the restaurant was that they were cash or debit only. We thought them not accepting credit may be due to them being a new restaurant but when you open a restaurant isn’t that something that should be figured out and setup ahead of time? From a service point of view that was the only negative here because the rest of it was fantastic.

    Food – 5/5 – everything we ordered was delicious, even the dishes we had never had before

    Service 4.5/5 – excellent table service, annoying that they only take debit/cash

    Kid-friendliness- 4.5/5 – no kids’ menu but very accommodating of kids and had a high chair

    Decor – 4.5/5 – awesome, brand new, included live tanks of seafood on the wall

    Value – 4.5/5 – enough for leftovers without breaking the bank

    Never stop adventuring!

    Comments Off on Main Street Eats: Van Tea Cafe