Luc Lac Vietnamese Kitchen

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Earlier in the year, I visited Portland for a weekend trip. Food is a huge part of Portland, so of course we had to check out some of the local eateries. While I was looking for happy hour restaurants, I came across Luc Lac Vietnamese Kitchen which is located in the downtown area. I hear that they have really good deals for happy hour so you can expect long line ups. Unfortunately, the timing for happy hour didn’t work out for us, so I suggested we visit for lunch the next day.

 

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Luckily at lunch, the line up wasn’t too early. Probably because we arrived shortly after it opened at 11am, as there was a line forming when we were leaving. The decor in the restaurant is super hip and modern with a bar in the middle. You first order and pay up front, and they will tell you which table to sit at. You need to pick up your own cutlery and water up front as well. Then once you are seated, the food is brought to you.

 

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Stormbreaker Total ReKolsch

We decided to enjoy our food with some beers and chose the Stormbreak Total ReKolsch which is a Kölsch style beer brewed in Portland. The beer was not too strong and we quite enjoyed it.

 

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Chicken Wings

Of course, S wanted Chicken Wings, so we ended up ordering two orders as one order only had around 5 wings. These deep fried wings were caramelized in fish sauce and garlic so extremely flavourful. However, we found the wings to be extremely tiny! Despite having the wing tip attached still, we have not seen such tiny wings before! The sticky sauce was not overly salty, but for USD$7, the plate was a bit small. Maybe it would not be so bad if they were at the happy hour price.

 

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Pork Crispy Rolls  

Next up, we ordered the Pork Crispy Rolls which were filled with pork, taro, jicama, carrots, & noodles. An order comes with 4 rolls for USD$5 but because they are so thin, I thought they were quite pricey. However, the spring rolls were actually really tasty. They were quite different from the usual spring rolls I get in Vancouver where they are golden yellow and chubbier. These had a bit of a chewy texture and tasted great with the sweet and sour chili sauce.

 

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Luc Lac

 

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Overall, we were extremely pleased with the food at Luc Lac Vietnamese Kitchen.  The food was nothing close to being traditional, but it didn’t matter because their dishes worked. The restaurant has such a fun vibe and is perfect for having drinks and snacks. I did find that the prices were slightly on the steeper side compared to what we can get in Vancouver, but I guess this is considered cheap food in Portland given the higher prices. Would love to come back and give their $8 pho a try as well as I saw many locals were having this.

Pros:
– Great tasting dishes
– Fun vibe for drinks and food

Cons:
– Not your traditional Vietnamese food if that’s what you’re looking for

Price Range: $15-25 per person

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

Food: 4 Service: 3 Ambiance: 3.5 Parking: Paid street parking Overall: 4

 

Luc Lac Vietnamese Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Foodora: Food Delivery by Bike Launches in Vancouver

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NOTE: I was offered a voucher to try foodora for free, but all opinions are based on my own experience.

Have you ever gone home after work to only find nothing in your fridge or you’re just simply too exhausted from work to do any cooking? Then you do some searches and only find pizza, Chinese food and most of the time they don’t even do delivery. Third party food delivery services have been popping up all over Vancouver, and the newest to our city is foodora. Read on to find out how you can win a $30 voucher or claim a $10 voucher!

 

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Foodora started in Berlin, Germany and is already servicing Montreal and Toronto, and now Vancouver. What differentiates foodora the most from the other delivery services is that they can deliver to places other than your work and home. For example, foodora can deliver to English Bay or even Stanley Park. Currently, foodora can only deliver to the downtown core, but they are constantly expanding, so check back often if your location is not included yet. In addition, the choice of restaurants include everything from cold-pressed juices, poke, sushi, ramen, sandwiches, and even fine dining food like Bauhaus!

 

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Foodora contacted me to give the service a try and ordering was super easy! You can order from their website on your desktop or through their mobile app. Once you place your order, your meal can be delivered within 35 minutes. You can also pre-order like I did. You can then pay for your meal including any tips you would like to pay your driver online with credit card or PayPal. Another differentiation is that foodora delivers by bike and you are able to track your delivery status online and watch the bike go. These foodora bikers bike super fast by the way! I had a good time watching how quickly my food was being picked up and bypassing all the busy downtown traffic. My order arrived right on time which normally never happens with other food delivery services I’ve tried using cars. Eco-friendly and fast!

 

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Pork & Prawns Salad Roll

I was craving some Vietnamese food on this cold rainy day so ended up choosing a new restaurant, Little Saigon, in Yaletown to try. For our appetizer, we had the Pork & Prawns Salad Roll which featured vermicelli, lettuce, bean sprouts, pickled carrots, cucumber, basil, pork and prawns wrapped in rice paper served with a house made peanut sauce. The rice paper was thin and they didn’t cheap out on the filling.

 

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Saigon Special

For our entree, we had the Saigon Special which included grilled lean pork, pork patties, chicken patties, 4 tiger prawns and 2 spring rolls served atop vermicelli. We were super impressed that the food was still warm when it arrived and the portions were great. We especially liked the pork patties which were seasoned perfectly.

 

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Coconut Curry Chicken Stew

Last but not least, we had the Coconut Curry Chicken Stew. The stew was filled with large chunks of chicken, carrots, yams & potatoes and cooked in an exotic blend of herbs, spices and coconut milk. We got this with a side of baguette which was perfect for soaking the curry sauce. Extremely flavourful and wasn’t too spicy.

 

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Overall, we were extremely happy with the food at Little Saigon and have added it to our list of favourites for Vietnamese food. In addition, we really enjoyed how easy and efficient foodora was. We will definitely be using their service again when busy season hits and we are stuck at the office working overtime!

RECEIVE A $10 VOUCHER!

Use this referral code and download the foodora app to receive a $10 voucher towards your first order with foodora.

GIVEAWAY!

To celebrate foodora’s launch in Vancouver, I’ve collaborated with foodora to giveaway a $30 voucher to use on your next order. Check on my Instagram for details on how to enter. Contest ends December 2, 2016 11:59 pm PST.

Little Saigon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Anh + Chi

Anh and Chi is the new hip and modern Vietnamese spot that took over the prior space, Pho Hoang. The restaurant is owned by the same family but the children now run the restaurant.

The restaurant is clean and modern with natural sunlight shining in to make picture taking effortless. Be aware of the long line ups and no reservations here. We came here closer to 2pm and got a seat within 15 minutes.

They’ve really vamped up the decor and everything inside just has a modern flare to it.

Soda Ép: Hand-Craft Soda – Fresh Lime, Dragon Fruit Tonic, Salty Plum

We started off with their Hand-Craft Sodas which the servers recommended. From left to right is the Fresh Lime, Dragon Fruit Tonic, and Salty Plum. The Salty Plum really wowed us with the drink not being overly salty or tart. It had a nice balance and was very appetizing. A must order!

Chả Giò – Crispy Spring Rolls

Onto the appies of which included the Crispy Spring Rolls which comes in a beautiful woven basket. They really know how to play with presentation here and hence their high prices. $7 for two rolls is not cheap. The spring rolls are filled with pork, prawn, carrot, taro, bean thread vermicelli and black mushroom. Many of their dishes are served with lettuce, mixed herbs and a chili fish sauce of which you then wrap around. I have to say, the flavours of these spring rolls are very modernized but I loved it!

Sài Gòn – Prawn Salad Rolls

The Prawn Salad Rolls were also presented beautifully. Each order comes with one roll cut in half (pictured is two orders). You can also choose from grilled pork or chicken. The rolls were filled with lettuce, bean sprouts, rice vermicelli and my favourite ingredient was the mint which gave it a very fresh taste. It was served with a delicious peanut sauce.

Cánh Gà – Fried Chicken Wings

The Fried Chicken Wings were a hit at our table with a marinade of chili fish sauce, butter, garlic, and green onion. The outside was crispy with the inside moist. We did find that this dish was slightly on the saltier side though.

Phở Hoàng

We got a taste of their predecessors by ordering the Phở Hoàng but it still came at the new prices at $11 for a normal bowl of pho. This came with sliced beef sirloin, brisket, tripe, tendon and meatballs. The broth was actually pretty good but I wouldn’t pay the price for it when I can get the same or better at a cheaper joint.

Bánh Xèo – Vietnamese Crêpe

I’ve been seeing the Vietnamese Crêpe all over social media so I suggested we try this as it’s not something I would usually order at Vietnamese restaurants. Filled in a crispy egg omelette was pork, prawn, bean sprouts, and mung bean. This was served with the same lettuce, mixed herbs and chili fish sauce so you could wrap the egg in. I really liked how crispy the outside was but found the inside ingredients to be under-seasoned.

Khay Bánh Hỏi Lụi Nướng – Street-Side Platter

The Street-Side Platter is great for sharing and consisted of house-made pork sausage, beef in betel leaf, grilled chicken, fried spring roll & grilled prawn. It was served with fresh lettuce, mixed herbs, pickled carrots and daikon, fine rice vermicelli, rice paper and chili fish sauce. We were given a warm bowl of water to soak the rice paper in to wrap our grilled meats so you got some DIY fun. However, I found it quite messy to do and would’ve prefered to have the assembly already done for me. All the meats were grilled just right and flavoured very well. The only one that lacked flavour would be the prawn.

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Bún Thịt Nướng Chả Giò Tôm – Vermicelli Bowl

Lastly, we got the Vermicelli Bowl which was very similar to the previous dishes as they consisted of the same ingredients. I would skip this if you already ordered the above dishes. We chose to have grilled chicken and it also came with a grilled whole prawn, fried spring rolls, a bed of greens, mixed herbs & chili fish sauce.

Overall, we were quite happy with Anh and Chi but found that many of the flavours in their main dishes were very similar after a while. Still, it’s great to see Vietnamese cuisine go from the typical cheap eats to becoming modern and upscale. Of course, this comes with a price, but you are paying for the overall experience. Service was also extremely friendly which is a huge change from the usual pho joints.

Pros:
– Great modern twist and presentation
– Service is great and ambiance is beautiful

Cons:
– Pricey
– Some dishes become very similar in flavour

Price Range: $20-30/person

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

Food:4 Service: 4 Ambiance: 4 Parking: 3.5 Overall: 4

Anh + Chi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Top 10 Restaurants I Tried in 2015

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As 2015 is coming to an end, I thought it would be fun to look back at the restaurants that I’ve tried during the year to pick my top favourites. These are restaurants that I discovered in 2015 of which I personally enjoyed and now frequent or would love to revisit again in the near future. I couldn’t pick my top favourite so they are randomly ordered. I’d also like to take this chance to thank all the readers who have followed me this past year and I can’t wait to share my food adventures with you all in the new year! Happy New Year!

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Sushi by Yuji
Cuisine: Japanese (Sushi)

A hidden gem I discovered this year is this tiny Japanese run sushi spot offering fresh sashimi and eye-catching nigiris. Good quality and reasonably priced.

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Café Salade de Fruits
Cuisine: French

A longtime restaurant I only discovered this year is this cozy French bistro hidden inside the French Cultural Centre in the Fairview area. The mussels are plump and juicy and portions are generous.

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Tacofino Taco Bar
Cuisine: Mexican

Expanding past their burrito shop earlier this year, this taco bar is my go to place for a good taco and their must-order nachos. Fun ambiance with great food and drinks in the Blood Alley of Gastown.

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Chef Tony
Cuisine: Chinese (Dim Sum)

A new addition to the vast Chinese restaurants in Richmond in 2014, I only visited the restaurant this year and was very impressed. Elevating simple Chinese dishes by incorporating luxury ingredients like truffle and abalone, this spot is sure to impress your guests.

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Chatime
Cuisine: Taiwanese Bubble Tea

2015 marked the addition of this Taiwanese bubble tea chain which has expanded rapidly over the Greater Vancouver. They offer quality and consistency in their drinks as well as a large variety of choices. Also one of the few bubble tea shops that allow you to customize sugar and ice levels. The must order here is the grass jelly roasted milk tea!

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Hawksworth
Cuisine: Westcoast

Awarded Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants in 2015, David Hawksworth carefully prepares dishes which feature the best ingredients of B.C. With a stunning ambiance and exceptional service, this upscale restaurant is perfect for special occasions when you want to splurge.

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Pho 37
Cuisine: Vietnamese

This hidden gem in the Richmond Ironwood Plaza may look underwhelming on the outside but the clean, well-kept interior and friendly service always impresses me. It’s now my go to place in Richmond for pho.

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Yah Yah Ya Ramen
Cuisine: Japanese (ramen)

There are very few choices for ramen in Richmond, but I discovered this Japanese run ramen shop this year. They specialize in their pork bone broth. Diners are able to customize the firmness of noodles, heaviness of broth, and amount of oil. I find myself returning here whenever I want ramen but too lazy to travel Downtown.

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Temper Chocolate & Pastry
Cuisine: Desserts

Tucked away in the village of Dundarave in West Vancouver, this chocolate and pastry shop is perfect for those with a sweet tooth. Owner and chef, Steven Hodge trained under Thomas Haas, so you will find many chocolates and pastries inspired from his training there.

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Ask for Luigi
Cuisine: Italian

In a tiny white house past the bustling Gastown shops towards the Railtown area, you will find line ups at this spot at all times. Be sure to get here early or expect a wait at this casual Italian family style restaurant offering delicious fresh pasta and other goodies.

 

Pho An Nam Restaurant

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Looking for a new pho spot to try in Richmond, we headed over to Pho An Nam which is located on No. 3 Road. It’s just a block down from another competitor, Pho Lan. There is an abundance of free parking at the back, which is always a plus!

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The outside looked quite dingy, but we were surprised how clean and nice the interior was for a pho shop. Hardwood flooring was also an interesting touch for a restaurant.

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All pho comes with a plate of bean sprouts.

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An Nam Special Mixed Beef with Rice Noodle Soup

All three of us ended up getting the same noodle soup, which was the An Nam Special Mixed Beef with Rice Noodle Soup (or Pho Dac Biet). We all got a bowl of small, and it’s a tad pricey at $8 compared to other pho spots. The bowl of noodles was also noticeably small. However, the broth was delicious and we all agreed it is one of the top in Richmond. It’s interesting to note that they put a lot of pepper on the top, but I didn’t mind it. Loved the broth and you get a good amount of beef, beef balls, tripe, tendons, etc.

Pros:
– Pho broth is delicious and didn’t taste like MSG
– Surprisingly decent and clean ambiance

Cons:
– More expensive than most pho joints
– Don’t expect much service as usual

Price Range: $10

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

Food: 4 Service: 2 Ambiance: 2.5 Parking: 4 Overall: 3.5

Pho An Nam Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pho Han Vietnamese Restaurant

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I’ve been trying to convince S that good food sometimes comes in the dingiest looking restaurants. So that’s when I tried to convince S that Pho Han might be one of them after reading some of the positive reviews on Zomato. Pho Han is located on Garden City in the same mall as Capstone and Manzo. It’s on the very corner, so you usually only see a sign pointing into the mall, but not the actual store front.

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The outside already looks pretty dingy looking, but the inside is quite the same. It fits less than 20 diners at a time and is run by husband and wife. We were seated on the side next to the windows and there were bars on the windows for security. S described that it felt like he was in a prison… Anyways, first thing I noticed was that the prices had increased from what I had saw online. Previously, a small pho was only $5.99, but it was now $6.50, so quite comparable to other pho spots.

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House Special Beef Noodle Soup

I chose the House Special Beef Noodle Soup and it came with rare sliced sirloin beef which were presented laying on the side of the dish. For some reason, that didn’t feel really appetizing to me, even though I eat rare beef. The bowl also came with beef flank, brisket, tendon, meatballs and tripe. The bean sprouts that came with the noodles were old and wilted. The soup itself was okay, but not mind blowing. There is definitely better pho around Richmond.

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Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chop on Rice

S got the Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chop on Rice, which S complained throughout dinner. The pork chop was dry and most of it was inedible since it was either fat or too chewy. The dish also came with shredded pork, fried egg, and vegetables on rice. To be honest, the plate looked pretty sad and I felt like my parents could do a better job. S obviously was unhappy with the dish.

Overall, I guess S proved me right with Pho Han that it was dingy looking and also had poorly executed food. They also completely forgot our order of spring rolls, but we didn’t want to give it a try anyways after having our food. Service is also basically non-existent and we had to go up to pay since we weren’t able to get the attention of anyone. Still, I have yet to prove to S that there are spots with poor ambiance but delicious food.

Pros:
– 10% off on Mondays
– Pho is somewhat cheaper than other spots

Cons:
– Poor ambiance and service
– Pho is average and pork chop was poor

Price Range: $10-15

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

Food: 2 Service: 1 Ambiance: 1 Parking: 3 Overall: 2

Click to add a blog post for Pho Han on Zomato

Pho 37

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Pho 37 is a newly opened pho shop in the Ironwood Plaza and to be honest, I wouldn’t have noticed this shop. The signage doesn’t really stand out, and I couldn’t find the word Pho 37 anywhere on the shop…

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The outside may not look any glamorous, but I was definitely surprised when I walked in. The interior is clean and modern and I would say it’s probably one of the better looking pho shops for interior atmosphere. Service was not very friendly in the beginning and I felt like the waitress hated her job. However, near the end of the meal, service picked up and one of the waitresses was quite friendly.

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Lunch started off with some complimentary sides. This consisted of your typical bean sprouts and peanut sauce. We weren’t sure what the third was, which seemed sort of like a soup.

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House Special Pho

Of course, my go to pho is always the House Special Pho, since you get everything in a bowl of noodles. There was rare beef, tendon, beef balls and tripe. The noodles were quite typical, nothing too special but it did its job. The soup didn’t have any MSG, yet it was very flavourful.

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Lemongrass Chicken Rice

S got the Lemongrass Chicken Rice, which I believe was some sort of combo since it came with a variety of sides as well. You got fried spring rolls as well as shrimp rolls and a side of salad. Perfect for those who want to try a bit of everything. We were surprised how nicely the dish was plated. Probably one of the best looking Vietnamese platings I’ve seen and not at a high price. S said this was quite good and the portion was perfect to fill you up.

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Overall, our experience at Pho 37 was quite good. Prices are quite reasonable and the food is great. Plus, the ambiance is definitely one of the better compared to your typical pho spots.

Pros:
– Nice plating and decent eats
– Ambiance is pretty nice for a pho shop

Cons:
– Service lacked in the beginning

Price Range: $10-15

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

Food: 4 Service: 2 Ambiance: 3 Parking: 3 Overall: 3

Pho 37 on Urbanspoon

Pho TEN

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Pho Ten is located across Ironwood mall, in the same strip mall as Original Joes. I’ve heard pretty good things about it, so I decided to check it out for lunch. The restaurant was pretty packed, but we still managed to get a seat. The interior is slightly nicer than most pho restaurants, but some of the leather on the couches were still peeling off…

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Spring Rolls

We started off with the two orders of Spring Rolls. The spring rolls were quite small compared to most spring rolls at other restaurants, with very little filling. I also didn’t really like the wrapper they used, although it was still very crunchy. I would skip these spring rolls next time.

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Bean sprouts and lime were served with our noodles.

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Pho Ga Dac Biet

S chose the Pho Ga Dac Biet, which featured flat rice noodles with boneless chicken and quail eggs in chicken soup. S said it was decent.

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Pho Ten Special

For myself, I got the Pho Ten Special, since I like my pho with all the ingredients. It came with rare sliced steak, brisket, fatty flank, tendon, tripe, crunchy flank, and beef balls. You get a good amount of ingredients, but I found the broth to lack flavour.

Overall, Pho Ten is decent. I wouldn’t say it’s the best, but it does it’s job for pho. Service is also pretty friendly.

Pros:
– Decent eats
– Service is friendlier than many pho restaurants

Cons:
– Seating may not be the best
– Just average – nothing too special

Price Range: $10-15

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

Food:3
Service: 3.5
Ambiance: 2.5
Parking: 3
Overall: 3

Pho TEN on Urbanspoon