Diva at the Met

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For Valentine’s Day, S took me to Diva at the Met, which is located at the Metropolitan Hotel. On the day, they only offered the set menu and you were not able to order off the a la carte menu.

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Complementary bread and butter

Dinner started off with complimentary bread and butter. There were two types of bread. One had raisins, while the other had nuts. The bread was pretty good, but I would have preferred if it was served warm.

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The restaurant has an open kitchen concept with glass, so you can see the cooks prepare your food. That night, they offered a four course menu for $80 a person. There are two choices: the Diva or the Divo. The Diva is supposed to be catered for the girl, while the Divo is for the guy. However, you are open to choosing either depending on which menu you prefer more. Of course, I wanted to try everything, so I went for the Diva, while S got the Divo.

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Lobster Bisque

The Divo menu starts off with the Lobster Bisque, which has a truffle cappuccino foam. The consistency is rather thick and you can definitely taste hint of the truffle cappuccino.

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Octopus Carpaccio

For the Diva, it starts with the Octopus Carpaccio, which was probably my favourite of the night. The dish was beautifully presented, with lots of colours. It featured lobster, quail egg, and heirloom tomatoes. The octopus was thinly cut and cooked perfectly. It had just the right chew and the tomatoes made the dish very refreshing. The lobster was fresh and the meat was tender.

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Smoked Ham Hock Terrine

Divo’s second course was the Smoked Ham Hock Terrine, which featured pickles, onion jam, and bread tuile. The terrine had a smokey flavour and the ham wasn’t too salty. Paired with the onion jam, it made a great dish. The bread tuile was thin and crispy, but there could have been more of that to complement the terrine.

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Arugula & Granny Smith Apple Salad

The Diva’s second course was the Arugula & Granny Smith Apple Salad. I wasn’t too happy with this dish since I felt like I already sort of had a salad like dish for my first course. Seemed like they thought the ladies only eat salads… Anyways, this was a huge portion of arugula, and it was topped with a cider vinaigrette. It also came with blue cheese, which I’m not a fan of, so it wasn’t something I really enjoyed. However, I liked the candied walnuts, grapes, and Granny Smith apples that were paired along. The apples were slightly sour so it was really appetizing.

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Grilled Angus AAA Rib Eye

The Divo’s main course was the Grilled Angus AAA Rib Eye. S ordered the steak medium rare and indeed, the inside was cooked to a beautiful pink. It was dijon herb crusted with a brandy jus. The cut was perfect and so tender. I wish I had ordered this myself. It also came with roasted honey garlic and a potato and gruyere pave as sides.

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Roast Pheasant Coq au Vin

The Diva’s entree was the Roast Pheasant Coq au Vin. The pheasant was stuffed with stone fruit, and came with red rice, barley and honey carrots. The meat was actually pretty moist and the fruit stuffing gave it some sweetness. It came with a red wine sauce. Everything about the dish felt a little too healthy though. Not bad, but I probably wouldn’t order this again.

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Passion Fruit Curd and Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse

Lastly, for dessert, both the Diva and Divo’s came on the same dish. For the Diva, it was the Passion Fruit Curd, while the Divo’s was the Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse. The passion fruit curd was filled within a genoise, or Italian sponge cake, and had layers of white chocolate mousse. It came with some berry coulis and fresh fruit. I enjoyed both the desserts. The chocolate mousse wasn’t too sweet and I liked the hint of hazelnut flavour. Tasted sort of like eating a Ferro Rocher. I also liked how it was presented so you can share the plate with your significant other.

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Chocolates

Lastly, as your bill comes, they bring you a plate with chocolate truffles and a rose for the girl. Pretty sweet. Service was attentive and friendly. It didn’t feel pushy at all and the ambiance was nice but not over the top. Great place for date night.

Pros:
– All our dishes were pretty good and presented nicely
– Service was attentive and friendly

Cons:
– Wish we could’ve ordered off the a la carte menu

Price Range: $80/person for Valentine’s Day set menu

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4
Service: 4
Ambiance: 3
Parking: 3
Overall: 4

Diva at the Met on Urbanspoon

Alibi Room

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Seared Albacore Tuna

For K’s birthday, we went to Alibi Room in Gastown. It’s located almost at the end, where it’s a lot more quiet, but Alibi Room is always still packed with people. A super chill environment, with dimly lit lights and communal tables, Alibi Room is a great place to hang out with friends and have some drinks. They are famous for their beers, but I opted for one of their ciders. We decided to share a few dishes and started with the Seared Albacore Tuna. The tuna was lightly seared on the sides and very fresh. It was topped with a green olive tapenade and a side of greens. The star of the dish was actually the red lentil puree though. I’m not even a fan of lentils, but the way they seasoned the puree was perfect. Very flavourful and we cleaned up this dish in no time.

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Mezze plate

Next, we got the Mezze Plate, which came with housemade rosemary flatbread. These were sort of soft but slightly chewy. It came with a white bean and green olive dip, goat feta, caponata, cucumbers, and marinated olives. The dip actually tasted sort of like a guacamole. Pretty good, and I liked the caponata mixed with the dip to bring more flavour.

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Mushroom & Hazelnut Pate

Lastly, we had the Mushroom & Hazelnut Pate, which was flavoured with truffle oil.The truffle flavour was actually very strong, or it could have been the mushroom flavour that I was tasting. It came with crostinis for dipping, but they were rather hard. On the side, there were garlic confit to accompany the dish. Not bad.

Overall, I thought the food was average. Nothing too special worth coming back, but I like the ambiance here for get togethers with friends for drinks and snacks. I thought that service was friendly, but rather slow. Our drinks came first, but our food took more than 30 minutes to arrive. We ended up finishing our drink before the food even arrived. Something they will need to work on.

Pros:
– Casual, hip ambiance
– Great place for drinks and late night snacks

Cons:
– A bit on the pricey side
– Long waits

Price Range: $20-30

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4
Service: 3
Ambiance: 4
Parking: 4
Overall: 4

Alibi Room on Urbanspoon

Pidgin

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I swear I’ve walked on this street many times, yet I’ve always passed by without noticing Pidgin. The outside decor makes it look sort of like a cage, while the inside is hip and modern. There’s a bar table since they have a long list of drinks, but there’s also regular seating for those who are ready for a meal. Pidgin is known for their sharing plates. Since we wanted to try a bit of everything, we went with their Prix Fixe menu, which comes with 8 dishes to share for $55 a person.

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Sakehitosuji “plum sake” Junbaishi and Kozaemon, Junmai Umeshu

We started off with two drinks which were outside the prix fixe menu. I’m a huge fan of plum wine, so we decided to try both of their Plum Sakes. If I remember correctly, the Kozaemon was pricier, but also much sweeter. Really good!

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Daily Pickles and Oyster Shot

The first dish that came were the Daily Pickles. It came with beets, cabbage, and something similar to oshinko. They were all sour but my favourite was probably the beets. The rest were too sour for my liking. To be honest, the dish wasn’t too exciting and was a bit disappointing. On the right, was the second dish which was the Oyster Shot. A mini raw oyster topped with apple horseradish. Super cleansing and fresh!

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Cured Sockeye Salmon

The third dish was the Cured Sockeye Salmon. It was plated beautifully with a radish and herb salad. I didn’t really like the salad, but the salmon was nice. Nothing too special again.

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Raw Scallops

Next was probably my favourite dish. It was the Raw Scallops, which came with pomegranate, red curry oil, daikon, and julienned green apple. I loved the acidity of the green apple against the freshness of the seafood. Very flavourful!

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Mushrooms and Snap Peas

The fifth dish was the Mushrooms and Snap Peas. We were told to mix everything together and dip the mushroom into the soft boiled egg. The dish was also flavoured with soy yuzu brown butter. Pretty good, but I wouldn’t say it was amazing.

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Pan Roasted Halibut

Finally, something that seemed more like entree came. It was the Pan Roasted Halibut, which came with a side of pine nut raisin mix and some cauliflower puree. The halibut was moist and I loved the cauliflower puree that it was paired with. Not bad!

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Half Duck

The last entree was the Half Duck, which was a huge dish! It came with a carrot cake puree with orange and spices. I found that the meat was way too salty though. This was a huge dish too, and it was almost too much to eat alone, especially since each course comes out one by one. I felt like it needed some sort of a side to go with it. We ended up packing more than half of it to take home.

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Meringue

The last course was the Meringue. Again, it was plated really nicely, with yuzu curd, vanilla cream and coconut on the side. The meringue was quite sweet though, and was only good when balanced with the yuzu curd.

Overall, I found Pidgin to be just average. Was the food good? Yes, but nothing extraordinary or memorable. The plating is really nice and the portions will actually get you filled up, but it’s also quite pricey. I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the service though.

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Clyde Common – Portland

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Clyde Common is located right next to the Ace Hotel, which is known to be super hip and a huge tourist spot. The whole area around here is great for shopping with unique boutiques.

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We had done some researching, but the locals also recommended that we go to Clyde Common for happy hour. It’s served every day from 3-6 pm so plenty of time to check it out!

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They have an open concept kitchen so it’s pretty neat.

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There’s also a bar on one side. Service was pretty good here. Our server was really funny and attentive.

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Pacific Standard: vodka, lemon, ginger, honey, soda

Their happy hour menu consists of food and drinks, so it’s pretty good! The drinks are well priced at around $5 for the cocktails. I chose the Pacific Standard, which was sort of like a lemon soda drink. We soon realized that all their drinks are very strong in alcohol. They definitely don’t cheap out on the liquor here! You can taste it heavily for sure.

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Daily Punch

J went for the Daily Punch, where I don’t think we figured out what it was still. I liked how it came in a little tea cup though.

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Spelling Bee: Reposado tequilla, agave syrup, absinthe, bitters, grapefruit peel

K got the Spelling Bee, which was probably the strongest in alcohol. It’s like all the hard liquor in one drink. I took a sip and all I could taste was alcohol. You’ll get your moneys worth if you order this, but I’m not so sure if I liked how it tasted.

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Smoked Mussels, Crackers

We then moved on to their appies. They don’t have a huge list and some of them sound quite ordinary. We went for the Smoked Mussels with Crackers, and it was surprisingly really good! The mussels were so tender and not tough at all. It paired really nicely with simply crackers! Yum!

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Pickled Devil Eggs

Next up were the Pickled Devil Eggs, which were very delicious! I liked how they seasoned the egg yolks. It was a little sour due to the pickling, so it was very appetizing.

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Meatballs, Bordelaise

We also ordered the Meatballs with Bordelaise Sauce. These little meatballs didn’t look too appealing, but they were very interesting! They had carrot bits inside and a beautiful red wine sauce which made it very flavourful.

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6 oz. Hamburger, Cheddar, Bacon, Pickled Onion, Lettuce and Aioli

The server recommended that we get the 6oz Hamburger, which he said is something you will want more of. We decided to share it anyways, and it was just as good as he described it! The ingredients were simple with just cheddar, bacon, pickled onion, lettuce and aioli, but the meat patty itself was so juicy! It was served medium so the meat wasn’t tough. The mustard seed sauce was also delicious with the burger.

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French Fries, Pepper Aioli

Lastly, we simply shared the French Fries, which came with a pepper aioli. Such a simple dish, but the fries were fresh and deep fried to a nice golden yellow. Crispy on the outside and soft in the inside. The pepper aioli was also very delicious. It gave it a bit of a kick.

Overall, we were very impressed with Clyde Common. It’s definitely one of my favourite spots in Portland from the places I tried. The atmosphere is nice, and the prices are quite reasonable for happy hour. Best of all, there was no line up!
Clyde Common on Urbanspoon

Browns Socialhouse (Ironwood)

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Bellini

J and I finally set a date to meet up and we had originally planned to check out the Milestone’s Girls Night Out Menu, which featured 4 appies and 4 drinks for $40. However, taking a look at the menu, nothing really intrigued us. Plus, there wasn’t a Milestones in Richmond. Being lazy, we ended up going to Browns Socialhouse in Ironwood Mall. I’ve been here before, but it’s been years since I revisited. The small patio was full, so we ended up sitting indoors. I started off the Bellini, which is always on special for $5. Pretty good deal, but I found that it was way too sweet for my liking. I felt like I was literally eating the fuzzy peach gummies! As for J, she got the Traditional Mojito, since there was a $2 off special going on.

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Chicken Quesadilla

For food, I went with the Chicken Quesadilla, which was surprisingly presented very nicely. It came with three sauces – salsa, guacamole, and sour cream. The tortillas were filled with cheese, chicken, peppers, and jalapeno peppers. A bite into the jalapenos really gave you a hit of spice. The quesadilla was crispy rather than soggy, which I was very pleased with. J went for the Charred Peperoni Pizza, which was a perfect size for one. Plus, on Sundays and Mondays, all their pizzas are for $9 which is a great deal! She said the pizza was really good and had a good amount of toppings.

Overall, Browns Socialhouse is always a great place to grab some drinks and food with friends. It’s casual food with great service and prices. A nice change from always going to say Earls.

Browns Socialhouse on Urbanspoon

Gilda – Sant Cugat

Studying at ESADE inside the little village of Sant Cugat means small choices of food to choose from. The school is basically 10 walking minutes away from restaurants and cafes, and after a long day at school, you really get lazy to walk out of that area. And to be honest, the cafeteria at school isn’t the best if you want an actual meal. That’s when we choose to walk right across our school building to Gilda, which is next to the Innovation Centre at ESADE. It’s literally less than a minute away, and perfect for us lazy students. Most people get their buffet menu, since it’s relatively cheap at around 9 euros for all you can eat. Otherwise, you can choose to pack as much food as you want into a container for a set price, which I have never tried.

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First off, you can get unlimited drinks, and this even includes wine and beer. I guess in Europe, alcohol is so cheap that it’s no big to have all you can drink… And next, there is a wide selection of salads to choose from. My favourite is to get some romaine lettuce, add some cucumbers, corn, and imitation crab and top it off with a long island dressing. They also have several types of other salad ingredients and pasta salad. Then you head over to some actual main entree food, but it’s not even the main entree yet. This is usually a small section and changes pretty much everyday. What doesn’t change is that there are always those thin crusted pizzas. They are so absolutely thin I can always have a bunch, and they are surprisingly really good! Then, there are usually two different entrees they change up everyday. That they, they had chicken wings and fideau noodles, which are like paella but in noodle form. These are usually decent as well. Some other entrees I’ve had were chicken nuggets, fettuccine, mixed rice, and drumsticks. They also always have a dish of veggies and french fries.

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Then comes the exciting part. You must remember to hold onto your ticket they give you when you pay in the beginning, because this is your ticket to your entree! There is a whole list of what entrees you can get, and this one was the Steak. Honestly, I wouldn’t suggest getting the steak, because it is usually a hit or miss. The problem is that the beef in Spain is cut very thin, so they often overcook it. Either that, or the restaurant is afraid of getting us sick, so cooks it to well done. And as someone who loves their meat medium rare, this is way too tough. My favourite that I have had is the Iberian Pork Shoulder. This one is always cooked to tender and has tons of flavours. I’ve also tried their Burrito and their Chicken Hamburger. I wouldn’t say they are amazing, but they are definitely much more worth the price you get compared to the cafeteria at school. By the end of this entree, I am usually fully stuffed. Yet, I always try to squeeze in some desserts. They often have a few selection of cakes, sometimes cream puffs, and always a soft serve ice cream machine. There are also a variety of fruits to choose from to finish off your meal.

Luzia – Barcelona

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I apologize for getting behind again! I’ve been traveling a lot this month and with school almost finished, I had tons of projects to finish up! Anyways, this post goes way back to September, when school just began. After school, U and I met up with her dad and we headed along La Rambla, which is one of the busiest streets in Barcelona. It’s filled with tourists and pickpocketers, so you always need to be cautious around here. We looked around for food, worrying that there may be lots of tourist traps, but luckily we ended up at Luzia which is located right on the street corner. The inside looks quite fancy, but the prices are actually decent and there are many families eating there.

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Ravioli con salsa de setas ( Ravioli with Mushroom Sauce)

I chose the Ravioli with Mushroom Sauce and although there are only a few pieces of ravioli, it really fills you up. The mushroom sauce was extremely rich and other than mushrooms, there were also some sort of nuts or grains in the sauce. I couldn’t figure it out. The filling was a cheese filling and went very well with the mushrooms.

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Pollo de corral, pimientos y puré trufado (Free Range Chicken, Peppers and Truffle)
U had the Chicken with Peppers and Truffle. It was nicely presented on a wooden board with a skillet on top. She said the chicken was tender and the flavours worked well with each other. Extremely delicious she said!

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Our meal came with some bread as well. We also ordered some white wine. U’s dad got the Steak tartar y patatas fritas (Steak Tartar and French Fries). He said it was cooked perfectly.

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Tiramisu

Last but not least, U and I shared a slice of Tiramisu. It was filled with chocolate and coffee goodness. A slight hint of alcohol and filled with cream and mascarpone cheese. So good!

Vancuver Food Cart Festival 2013

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Ever since I left for Europe, I have been traveling so much or so busy with school that I have totally neglected this blog. I feel terrible and now that I have finally settled down and won’t be traveling as frequently, I am going to promise that I post at least once a week or more frequently! I am already more than a month behind, hence I am still posting about Vancouver food I ate before I left…

Anyways, in August, I finally went to the Vancouver Food Cart Festival by Olympic Village. I had wanted to go the previous year, but because they only operate on Sundays from around end of June to end of August, I never was able to attend due to my work schedule on Sundays. Every Sunday, over 20 food cart vendors meet at this area along with other craft food, art, and community vendors. There’s music and also kids activities, so perfect for some family fun. I was here, obviously because of food! There were many that I could find right in the hot spots of downtown, but also some that I had never heard of.

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Mogu Japanese Street Eats

First up, we decided to try Mogu Japanese Street Eats. I always see this when I go shopping in downtown, but have never came to try it. They are also featured at the Richmond Summer Night Market this year, so it is actually quite easy to try it. I did find that the pricing is quite high for a burger, but to be honest, most of the food trucks price their food relatively high.

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Pork Miso Katsu – breaded deep fried pork cutlet, housemade red miso sauce, Asian hot mustard coleslaw

We got the Pork Miso Katsu Menu, so it also came with two pieces of Chicken Karage and a small drink. People have raved that Mogu has one of the best Chicken Karage, and I did enjoy it a lot. It is sweet and spicy because it comes with a house made sweet chili sauce. Definitely enjoyed it and I would put it as one of my top favourites for chicken karage.

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This was the Pork Miso Katsu Burger, and the pork was cooked tender and moist. The bread was also soft and the sauce really made the burger stand out. I didn’t necessarily taste much miso flavour, but you could get the Asian feel to the burger.

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PazzaRella

Next, we tried PazzaRella which is famous for the Napoletana Wood Fired Pizza. It takes a little while since they actually make the pizza on spot and fire it in the oven. Pretty cool and one pizza will fill you up. So it’s best to share it with a friend if you want to try other food at the festival.

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Prosciutto Pizza

We got 2 Prosciutto Pizzas to share between four, and it was more than enough. They are around $11 each, so you can imagine they are quite large. Extremely thin crust and easy to bite and topped with fresh tomato sauce, arugula and prosciutto. I did find that they burnt the edges a bit, so it was a little bitter tasting at the edges, but other than that, it was fine.

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Dougie Dog Diner

Dougie Dog Diner seemed to be a crowd pleaser, so E decided to try it as well. They are famous for their innovative hot dogs and they also have their own root beer. Apparently they were on Dragon’s Den, so I thought that was pretty neat.

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Charlie Mac Dog – bacon, Mac and cheese, melted cheddar

E got the Charlie Mac Dog which is loaded with mac and cheese and topped with more cheese. He thought that it was alright, but definitely not worth the price though. It’s something you can make at home if you really want to.

Overall, the Vancouver Food Cart Festival is pretty nice  if you want to have a collection of food cart vendors in one area. However, to be honest, it’s hard to try every food cart because each item on the menu is fairly large. It’s basically one whole meal, and it’s also quite hard to share the food. There was also an entrance fee, but you got a discount if you went in a large family. Cool place to check out, but probably just once a year. Parking was also extremely difficult to find, and was mostly paid parking.

Mogu Japanese Street Eats on Urbanspoon

PazzaRella Auto Pizzeria Napoletana on Urbanspoon

Dougie Dog Diner Truck on Urbanspoon