• 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!

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  • 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
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    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
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    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).
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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!

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  • 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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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: Cottage Bistro

    Overall Rating 7/10

    4598 Main St, Vancouver, BC 
    (604) 876-6138

    Monday – Friday 3:00pm – 12:00am, Saturday/Sunday 10:00am – 12:00am

     

    This week we didn’t have time to go and sit down at a restaurant so we did take out. This is nothing new to anyone and especially now that Skip the Dishes, Foodora and the likes have come to town it has been more popular than ever. On the way back from an appointment Sam picked us up some food from Cottage Bistro. Their menu is very modern with an asian flare.

    To be completely honest, I was expecting this place to be a more hipster grub style restaurant. It wasn’t as I soon learned when a kind asian gentleman answered the phone. He graciously took my order and I told him when I would pick it up and he assured me it would be ready by then. Sam was going to pick up the food on her way home but traffic was crazy getting out of downtown. The pickup was schedule for 3:15 and around 3:30 I got a call from Cottage Bistro wondering when the food was going to be picked up. This phone call was appreciated for two reasons: I knew the food was ready at my requested time and the owner cared enough to confirm that his customer would get his food. Since we weren’t going to be in the restaurant to see their in house service, this was a good start to their service.

    Sam showed up shortly after that second phone call and picked up the food. She got to talk to the kind asian gentleman whom I spoke with on the phone and she got to share about the project with him (after she paid to avoid any conflict of interest). He was very excited to learn about what we were doing and wants us to send him a copy of the review once it is posted. He was also gracious enough to give us a $10 off Skip the Dishes coupon and a $5 off Foodora coupon (read to the end to find out how you can win them).

    We ordered the Ginger Beef, a favourite of Sam’s no matter where we are, and the Spicy Potato Wedges. The Ginger Beef had “(hot)” beside it on the menu and if you’ve been following along you’ll know we’re both very okay with spice. Cottage Bistro does not mess around with their spice.

    The Ginger Beef was very good. I wish it had been crunchier but the lack of crunch was likely due to the fact that the time between it being made and us eating it was almost an hour. The ginger flavour was lacking though. One thing we appreciated was that the sauce that was supposed to be on the beef was in a container on the side as to not make the dish soggy on the way home. The sauce was quite spicy, again we don’t mind, but the flavour of the sauce we felt was lost due to the punch-in-the-face amount of spice it contained. It came with a side of veggies which for us were bok choy, broccoli and carrot. Overall, the flavour was okay but it could have been that much better with less spice and more ginger. We won’t dock points for texture because we are aware that was more than likely due to the amount of time that elapsed between being made and being eaten.

    The Spicy Potato Wedges were more like potato wedges with spicy sauce. The wedges themselves are not spicy; however, they are delicious. The crunch was still there, but again not as much as we desired which we are aware is from the time that it took for us to eat it after being made. The wedges themselves are topped with green onion and fried pieces of garlic. The fried garlic was a nice touch that we had never had on fries or wedges before. Usually with garlic fries the garlic is raw and very pungent. This fried garlic was nice and mild with the perfect hit of garlic flavour. The menu says they have a spicy seasoning on them but the ones I ate without the sauce did not. The sauce is a chipotle aioli which I think more than likely was sriracha mayo. We’re not complaining because we both love sriracha mayo. The mix of the fried garlic and sriracha mayo was delicious and those wedges did not last long on our plate.

    After the meal our mouths were on fire from the spice from the sauce with the beef and then the chipotle aioli as well.

    The value was just okay. If you look through their menu the prices are on the higher end. The Ginger Beef was $20 and the wedges were $8. The wedges were fairly priced for an appetizer but the ginger beef was, in our opinion, priced too high. We would have been much more comfortable paying in the $15-17 range for that dish.

    All in all, Cottage Bistro had good food that we both enjoyed. We would love to go back and eat in house and try their food fresh as fresh is best. That being said, there is nothing about Cottage Bistro that would deter us from eating any of their food again. Everything tasted good and the service was excellent. The gentleman who we dealt with was very kind and a pleasure to speak with.

    To win the Skip the Dishes $10 off coupon or the $5 off Foodora coupon, follow us on Instagram @adventureneverenns and we will draw two names from our new followers to win the coupons which we will deliver to you.

    Food 7.5/10 – both good dishes, too much spice in the ginger beef sauce

    Service 9/10 – kind gentleman on the phone and he gave us coupons

    Kid friendliness – N/A, did not eat inside

    Decor 7/10 – nothing special but not terrible 

    Value 7.5/10 – ginger beef was overpriced by a couple dollars

    Never stop adventuring!

     

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  • 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

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    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.

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    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).

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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!

     

  • LIFE

    A Night Out To Celebrate: Georgian Court Hotel Review

    Right before Christmas we got to celebrate Sam’s 30th birthday. She wrote about what 30 feels like to her in this post. I had been planning this night for months and certain things I would need other people to come through on to make it happen. One of those “people” was Best Western. More specifically, the Georgian Court Hotel (GCH) in Vancouver. Unfortunately, they didn’t.

    I started planning this birthday back in October and was super excited because it would be a night that would never happen unless it was a truly special occasion, like a 30th birthday. I invited 2 other couples that we are very close with to come down and celebrate with us. I booked each couple a room at the Georgian Court Hotel and paid with points during Best Western’s 10,000 points promo. The GCH is marketed as a Best Western Premier hotel, their top category of hotels meant to be their version of luxury.

    I hold Diamond Select status with Best Western, their highest category of status which comes with a complimentary upgrade if availability allows, thank you gift or bonus points upon arrival amongst other things. Neither of those were offered to us unfortunately even though there was availability. I did end up getting the points well after the night though.

    I had emailed the hotel, called corporate and called the hotel ahead of time to remind them it was a special occasion and see if they could do anything special for us. When we arrived and checked in and I noticed none of the benefits for Diamond Select members were being offered to us I knew right away they had dropped the ball. Most places when you tell them it is a special occasion will leave chocolates, a fruit basket, bottle of wine or something. A card at minimum. As we opened the door to our room I eagerly looked to the bed to see what they had left us. Nothing. Nope, not even a card. I was really disappointed because I was hoping to surprise Sam with some gift right off the bat but unfortunately Best Western didn’t come through for me. Now if you feel like I’m being a snobby status-holder please understand I’m well aware that there is no obligation on the part of Best Western to do anything. I get that. That being said, most places usually do something. As you will read about in a future post, I took Sam downtown the following weekend just the two of us and that other hotel chain really knows luxury and how to serve their guests right. Best Western just isn’t in the same class of service.

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    The room itself was fine. It had been updated and modernized, that much was apparent. The bathroom was a decent size with a rather large shower that could easily fit two people. The shower was my favourite as it had good water pressure and one shower head and then a detachable shower head. I spent way too much time in there. In the room was also a desk and nice office chair and a chaise under the window. Our room looked right at BC Place which I think was the only nice “view” the hotel could offer because the backside faced an alley.

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    The robes were cheap and it was obvious. They were thin and scratchy which were not comfortable to wear down to the hot tub. There is no pool at this hotel but they do have both a steam room and a sauna.

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    One rather disturbing thing we found was that when cleaning the rooms at GCH, housekeeping definitely cuts corners. We moved one of the ottomans that was beside to the TV closer to the bed to play a game and behind it we found an old pen, tons of dust and garbage. Obviously it hasn’t been moved and cleaned behind in a while and that was somewhat disturbing.

     

    One nice gesture was that every room had a Nespresso machine and water that were complimentary. Unfortunately, one of our rooms had no coffee available. After calling down to the front desk to request some it took forever so that couple never got their coffee and just came to our room.

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    All in all, the hard product (the actual hotel itself) was fine. Nicely updated and mostly clean with an amazing shower. The soft product (service, food, etc) left lots to desired as it was way below par with empty coffee machines and nothing done for the special occasion.

    Would I come back? Not if I was paying for it. Our room that night would have cost $281. For that amount of money you can go somewhere way nicer and get much better service. Luckily I paid with points but even still I’m upset at what those points actually got us. My advice is to go elsewhere and get something that is actually luxury. Next week we will write about our actual luxury experience at another downtown Vancouver hotel.

    Never stop adventuring!

  • MAIN STREET EATS

    Main Street Eats: Haiyi Seafood Restaurant

    Overall Rating 4.5/5

    4818 Main St, Vancouver, BC 
    (604) 321-4448

    7 days a week 9:30am – 10:30pm

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    We’re back. We hope you all had a great holiday break and got to spend time with friends and family. We took the break to do just that which is why you haven’t see a Main Street Eats post from us in a while.

    This week we went to Haiyi Seafood Restaurant. As you can see from the picture it is located in a very tiny strip mall, if you can even call it that, and it takes up one half of it.

    Haiyi Seafood Restaurant is a dim sum restaurant. For those who don’t know what that means it means that they have a very large menu of dishes that are meant to be shared. This is why you get a large menu and tick off the items your table wants. When the food comes to your table it is placed on a big lazy Susan and you take what you wish from whatever dish is in front of you. You then spin the lazy Susan clockwise to the next dish and so on. This was our first time in a traditional dim sum restaurant. I remember growing up and seeing them in Richmond Centre and always wanting to go in but that was never my family’s style, we were Chinese take out white folk.

    My cousin and her boyfriend joined us for this venture and it was a great time. We were the only white people in the restaurant but, as we’ve experienced all along this journey, that didn’t affect our service or how we were treated, nor did we expect it to. The gentleman who served us was amazing. So great with the kids, constantly trying to get Nixon to laugh, which he finally did before we left and it was a cute moment for both of them.

    Their menu is extensive with precisely 264 items. We forgot to take a picture, we are going back to get a picture and will update the post for you. So, picking items to eat was difficult indeed. In the end, we decided on the following:

    Steamed Shrimp Dumplings

    House Special Fried Vermicelli

    Sweet & Sour Pork

    Spicy Green Beans

    BBQ Pork Sticky Buns

    Spicy Fried Halibut

    Shrimp Spring Rolls

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    Everything was delicious. There is nothing that we ordered that I wouldn’t order again. The shrimp dumplings were exactly what you would expect and he dumpling was perfectly cooked as was the shrimp. They were a good size too, definitely not one-bite dumplings. The house special fried vermicelli was also excellent. Definitely on the spicy side which we weren’t expecting from the description but as you know by now, we love spicy so that was not a pleasant surprise, for some of you it may not be. The sweet & sour pork is the one thing we can order that we will always be familiar with and it’s hard to screw up so it’s really a safety order for us, it was delicious. I’m not sure I’ve ever had a bad sweet & sour pork. Spicy green beans have to be one of my all time favourite hot veggie dishes so it wasn’t up for discussion, we were getting them; as with everything else, delicious. Not too spicy but a perfect balance of spiciness and saltiness. BBQ pork sticky buns are a traditional dim sum menu item so we had to get them. They were sticky alright. None of us could get a whole bun out of the steamer basket in one piece so we just picked at it in parts. The bun doesn’t have a ton of taste but the filling is what you’re after and the BBQ pork was so yummy. Not too sweet but it did have some sweetness that was nicely balances by the BBQ flavour which brought the savoury side. The spicy fried halibut was a big question mark for us. We had no idea what to expect and it came in little two-bite sized pieces. This is where the one negative of the menu came in, there were bones in them. On my first bite I bit into something hard, I figured it was a bone and this was an unpleasant surprise. I’m not sure if this is traditional but it was annoying having to be hesitant with every bite no knowing when you might chomp down on a bone. The halibut itself was nice and flaky and the spicy crust on the outside made it a great bite. The shrimp spring rolls were as expected, a nice crunchy, flaky outside with well cooked shrimp inside and a nice sauce to accompany it.

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    The food was excellent, other than the bones in the halibut we have no complaints. The portion size was very generous also.

    The service was excellent and the servers were back to top up waters and make sure we were doing alright but they didn’t come back so much that it got annoying. I’m sure we’ve all been to a restaurant where the server comes back so much that you just want to tell him or her “we’re good, you don’t need to come back every 5 minutes. If we need something we will let you know.” That didn’t happen here.

    The value we received here was average, we wouldn’t say it was great but it was right in the middle. The food was good which can justify the slightly above-average prices but we still felt the prices were a couple dollars higher per dish than they should have been. That being said, price would not deter us from returning to Haiyi as everything was excellent.

    Food 4.5/5 – no bones in the halibut and this is a 5/5

    Service 5/5 – perfect, it doesn’t get any better than this

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

    Decor 4.5/5 – very elegant with white draped chairs and big glass lazy Susans

    Value 4/5 – portions were generous and the food was good but a couple dollar high per dish

    Never stop adventuring!