Ken’s Chinese Restaurant – ChineseBites Media Event

NOTE: As part of the ChineseBites media event, all food was free, but all opinions are based on my own personal experience.

Last month, I was invited by ChineseBites to do a tasting at Ken’s Chinese Restaurant. The restaurant has been around for many years and serves traditional Chinese dishes as well as some HK style cafe dishes.

Fish Soup with Winter Melon & Dried Scallop 瑤柱冬瓜粒魚湯

Chinese dinners always start with soup, and we got to sample the Fish Soup with Winter Melon & Dried Scallop. Flavourful with lots of ingredients and great for a cold rainy night.

Ken’s Specialty Chicken 南軒走地雞

Ken’s Specialty Chicken was tender with a nice layer of jelly under the skin.

Lobster with Konnyaku in Hot Pot 芋絲龍蝦煲

One of their signature dishes is the Lobster with Konnyaku in Hot Pot. This was very flavourful with the lobster cooked just right and the konnyaku noodles soaking up the delicious broth. A must order!

Crab with Garlic & Spicy XO Sauce XO 金蒜炒蟹

We got to sample two of their signature crab dishes. The first was the Crab with Garlic & Spicy XO Sauce. The sauce is more of a dry sauce and great if you love spicy flavours. I could eat the whole dish if I didn’t have to share!

Golden Dungeness Crab 金沙蟹

The Golden Dungeness Crab was one of my favourites as I love crab or lobster that is coated with a salty egg yolk batter. Very flavourful but some found it to be too filling because of the egg yolk. I loved it though!

Braised Fatty Layer Pork 杭州東玻肉

The Braised Fatty Layer Pork seems like a must order at ChineseBites events, and this one didn’t disappoint. A good layer of fat to meat ratio but I did find that this one felt more oily than others I’ve had.

Pan Fried Chicken Fillet with Spicy Thai Sauce 泰汁煎雞扒

The Pan Fried Chicken Fillet with Spicy Thai Sauce was quite average for me as I didn’t find it too special. The chicken was quite tenderized, but nothing too special with the sauce as it tasted like store bought Thai sweet chili sauce.

Malaysian Style Fried Rice 馬拉臘味炒飯

I actually quite enjoyed the Malaysian Style Fried Rice as it had a bit of a kick to it. Good amount of ingredients in the rice.

Black Pepper Diced Beef Tenderloin 七彩黑椒牛柳粒

I was pleasantly surprised with the Black Pepper Diced Beef Tenderloin as I find that this dish can be easily overdone. This was however delicious with the beef extremely tender and cooked to a nice medium to medium rare. The colourful peppers also made the dish visually appetizing and tasted great.

Baked Seafood on Rice 焗海鮮飯

Lastly, we had the Baked Seafood on Rice. This was quite average with a nice layer of white cream sauce and melted cheese. Nothing too special compared to your typical HK style cafes.

Overall, there were some hits and misses, but I would highly recommend trying their crab and lobster dishes. A great casual Chinese restaurant for families but ambiance is rather dated. Reasonable prices and some great dishes though.

Ken's Chinese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Fondway Cafe – Media Launch

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NOTE: All food and beverages were complimentary as part of the media launch, but all opinions are based on my personal experience.

I was invited to Fondway Cafe‘s media launch last Sunday organized by Chobee PR. Apparently Fondway used to be inside Crystal Mall, but it has relaunched near the Metrotown skytrain station, so is very accessible.

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Their menu offers coffees, teas, and cafe style snacks. It is a Taiwanese cafe but mixed with a hipster European feel.

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They offer over 60 teas and you can purchase the teas to bring home. They also sell a variety of tea and coffee appliances.

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For the media launch, we got to sample an array of their garden fruit teas. The teas are brewed with a special machine called Teapresso that uses a 9-bar water pressurizer to extract the flavour of tea.

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Signature Iced Tea

I tried the Fruit Garden, which had hibiscus, rose-hip peels, apple bits, citrus peels, and sunflower petals. The teas were served cold and I enjoyed the fruitiness and floral flavours.

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We then moved over to the coffee bar where the girls were pumping out the drinks. They offer coffee beans from Elysian coffee roasters and the beans are from Guatemala and Costa Rica.

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Nitrogen Coffee

Fondway differs from other coffee shops as they feature a Nitrogen Coffee, which is cold brewed and infused with nitrogen gas to create a silky texture and bubbly taste. The coffee was very smooth and clean but I found it very odd that that the coffee taste disappears after you consume it. Your first initial contact with the coffee will give you that strong coffee flavour, but it disappears right after. It’s great for people like me who do not enjoy the after coffee taste that lingers in my mouth.

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Honey Lemon Coffee

The Honey Lemon Coffee was a bit of an odd one for us. We found it to have that odd sour taste that we didn’t really enjoy.

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Grass Jelly Milk Tea

One of my favourites was the Grass Jelly Milk Tea. The milk tea was strong in fresh tea flavour.

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Caramel Macchiato

We also tried the Caramel Macchiato with one shot of espresso. The coffee was smooth and the caramel wasn’t too sweet. I also noticed they have really neat menus where you can check the items you want to order with an erasable marker. Pretty neat!

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And then we hurried over to the food! This was a foodie’s dream with all the food presented beautifully!

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Belgium Waffles, House Salad

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Taiwanese Sandwich, Chicken Croissant

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Tuna Waffles, Cheese Salmon, Pumpkin Cracker, Daily Sandwiches

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Daily Soups

Daily Soups included a Minestrone and Clam Chowder Soup. M and I both agreed the chowder was the best. It was flavourful and didn’t taste like your typical canned soup.

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These were the items we sampled. Our favourite was the Cheese Salmon which featured smoked salmon on top of a cracker along with cheese, lettuce and dill. The Tuna Waffle was also a favourite as the waffles were light and fluffy and tuna was flavoured nicely with a light mayo. The Taiwanese Sandwich was a nice twist as it featured waffles as the bread.

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Coffee Pana Cotta

And onto the desserts! We started off with the Coffee Pana Cotta which is more like a creme brulee with coffee caramel liquid at the bottom. Quite sweet, but the custard was smooth.

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New York Cheesecake

The homemade cakes then started rolling in. The New York Cheesecake had sugar on top and it was torched to give that creme brulee hard sugar feeling. The cheesecake was denser than what I would’ve liked as I prefer the light and fluffy Japanese ones, but good nevertheless.

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Ujikintoki Cake, Seasonal Fruit Cake, Earl Grey Cake, Concentrated Chocolate Cake

We also got to try a variety of their daily cakes. Since we were too full, we only tried the Earl Grey Cake. The cake itself was very fluffy, but I found that the hazelnuts on top stole the show so it tasted more like a hazelnut cake. More earl grey flavouring and less hazelnuts would’ve made the cake perfect.

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Overall, we had a good time and enjoyed the beverages and snacks that Fondway offers. Service was also extremely friendly and waitresses are able to speak both Mandarin and English. I can see this as a cute place to catch up with your girl friends.

Fondway is offering a grand opening day special and you can experience a 4 signature course for only $20. You can choose from either option A or B. Please see picture above for details and contact details to reserve your ticket in advance.

Fondway Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cattle Cafe

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I’ve never tried Cattle Cafe and since the Richmond location was closed and we were near Metrotown, we decided to head over for lunch. Cattle Cafe is your typical HK style cafe food and I would say it’s quite similar to Deer Garden. I found the seating and interior to be quite modern and clean compared to many Chinese restaurants.

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Sliced Beef in Satay Soup with Hand-squeezed Fish Noodles
S got one of their classics which is the Sliced Beef in Satay Soup with Hand-squeezed Fish Noodles. The noodles have a nice chew because they are made from fish. I liked the satay soup which was slightly spicy but not overbearing. I’d definitely order this dish next time!

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Mixed Meat & Fish Balls with Flat Noodle Seaweed Soup

For myself, I ordered the Mixed Meat & Fish Balls with Flat Noodle Seaweed Soup. You get some pork, meat, and fish balls as well as fish tofu. The broth is quite strong in fish and seaweed flavour. Not bad.

Overall, Cattle Cafe is a good option for quick HK style food. I found that prices weren’t the cheapest with each dish still costing at least $9 and the portions being a little on the smaller side. I find the portions at Deer Garden to be much larger. Service is quick and to the point so don’t expect any more.

Pros:
– Average eats
– Clean spacious interior

Cons:
– Don’t expect much service

Price Range: $10

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

Food: 3 Service: 2 Ambiance: 2 Parking: 2 Overall: 2.5

Cattle Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sushi by Yuji

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Sushi by Yuji pictures have been showing up all over my Instagram, so I decided it was time to give it a try. Located on Kingsway between Victoria and Nanaimo, this little sushi shop is a hidden gem.

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The place will fit probably only around 20 people and is run by chef Yuji himself and two waitresses. Simple, casual decor but not cramped. Service is a bit slow though because Yuji prepares basically everything by himself.

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Seaweed Salad

We started off with some Seaweed Salad, which we were a bit disappointed with. Since we knew the place was supposed to be pretty authentic, we thought the seaweed salad wouldn’t be the ones that you get at the supermarket. Turns out it’s just that typical stuff. Flavourwise, it was well seasoned and the seaweed was crunchy.

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Wild Sockeye Salmon Sashimi

For salmon sashimi, they only sell Wild Sockeye Salmon here, so we ordered it anyways and it came with 9 pieces of sashimi. This was cut nicely and the fish was very fresh. The size were a little on the smaller size though (I feel like this picture makes them appear larger).

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Toro (Tuna Belly) Sashimi

We also got an order of the Toro Sashimi. This had 5 pieces and the tuna belly was extremely fatty and melted in your mouth. However, I was disappointed with some of the pieces since they weren’t cut properly. It was sort of like broken?

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Toro (Tuna Belly) Nigiri

We also all had the Toro Nigiri which is a must order! Melt in your mouth sushi! So delicious! I also like how they already put wasabi inside. Oh and be sure to order this early, since most people will order this here. When we tried to put in a second order later in the evening, they were already sold out.

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Tobiko with Egg, Negitoro with Egg x2, Negitoro Gunkan

What I really came here for were because I saw those pretty pictures of the gunkan. The Tobiko with Egg comes as your regular tobiko gunkan but topped with a raw quail egg. This tasted delicious! I remember trying this at another restaurant and not liking it, but I think it was because the quail egg wasn’t very fresh. This was completely different and absolutely delicious. Crunchy and creaminess in your mouth at the same time. The Negitoro with Egg is the same concept and was also delicious and a must order. If you are not a fan of the raw eggs, then you can get them without as well for 50 cents less.

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Tobiko with Egg, Negitoro with Egg, Mentaiko with Ika Gunkan

We got a few more of those after but K also tried the Mentaiko with Ika, which was on their daily special board. Mentaiko is marinated roe from pollock and cod, so some may find it fishy while others enjoy it. I thought it was interesting that they paired it with squid. K said it was pretty good.

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Chopped Scallop Gunkan

We all had the Chopped Scallop Gunkan, which had big juicy scallops and the mayonnaise sauce wasn’t too overwhelming.

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Tako (Octopus), Hamachi (Yellow Tail) Nigiri

The Tako Nigiri came with a bit of marinade sauce and the octopus was extremely tender and fresh. One of the best I’ve had. E and my dad enjoyed their Hamachi Nigiri which they also commented as being very fresh.

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Aji (Spanish Mackeral) Nigiri

E got the Aji Nigiri which had part of the skin attached to it but he didn’t mind it. It seemed like he quite enjoyed this as well.

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Yuji Roll & Salmon Toro (Salmon Belly) Nigiri

I also got the Salmon Toro Nigiri, which the belly of the salmon. This was super smooth and creamy! I actually almost enjoyed this more than the regular salmon. We shared the Yuji Roll, which comes with a variety of fillings including tuna, salmon, and shrimp. Everyone enjoyed this roll.

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House Roll

Last but not least, we finished off with the House Roll, which we ordered the full order. You can also get half an order. This again was filled with an assortment of fish. Although you know it’s probably the ends of the sashimi, it was still very fresh and perfect for those who love sashimi.

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Dinner ends off with a complimentary bag of Pocky for each guest. How cute! Overall, I was extremely happy with Sushi by Yuji. If you love traditional nigiris and fresh sashimi, this is the place to be. They barely have any cooked items here though, so don’t be expecting any of that. You also won’t find any of those creative rolls with tons of sauces on. Prices are a bit higher than most Japanese restaurant but are on par with Japanese owned restaurants. You may end up spending a bit more since they don’t really have those filler dishes, but rather just mostly sushi. Although service was a bit slow, it was very friendly and Yuji even waved and thanked us as we left the restaurant. Small things like this makes a difference. I’ll be back again soon!

Pros:
– Fresh sashimi and well-executed sushi
– Reasonable prices for authentic Japanese food

Cons:
– Wait for food to arrive is a bit slow due to only one chef

Price Range: $20-30

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

Food: 4.5 Service: 3 Ambiance: 2 Parking: 4 Overall: 4

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Icy Bar 利源冰店 – ChineseBites Media Event

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NOTE: As part of the ChineseBites media event, all food and beverages were free, but all opinions are based on my own experience.

I attended another ChineseBites event a few weeks ago and this time it was at Icy Bar, located on Kingsway near Boundary. They also have locations on Kingsways and Knight, Parker Place, Crystal Mall, and the Richmond Night Market. I’m sure you have seen everyone holding those mango desserts if you’ve been to the night market!

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The interior is simple and nothing too fancy. Their menu is basically only Taiwanese bubble tea drinks and desserts. Some interesting notes are that their mochi are made from scratch, pancakes are made fresh everyday and their fruits are fresh cut everyday.

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Lychee Slush, Fresh Taro Milkshake, Mango Slush

We all started off with some drinks. I had the Fresh Taro Milkshake and this was very smooth and creamy, but the taro flavour was quite light. Their bubble teas are quite large and you can also let them know if you want it less sweet.

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Traditional Eight Mix Icy 八寶冰

We started off with two varieties of Traditional Eight Mix Icy. You can customize your shaved ice with a variety of toppings. Pictured above was fresh mango, strawberries, lychee, pineapple, watermelon, melon, rainbow jelly, popping pearls and a scoop of green tea ice cream. Eight toppings go for $10.00, four toppings for $6.75 and three toppings with coconut milk cup for $5.50. Ice cream is extra and can range from an additional $2-4 depending on the flavour.

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This customized mix icy has fresh mangoes, red bean, green bean, kidney bean, taro, peanuts, mochi balls, green tea mochi balls, mango mochi balls, almond jelly, grass jelly, chendol, basil seeds, and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The shaved ice are huge, so you can share with friends. Minimum charge per person is only $3.50, so quite affordable.

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Strawberry Mango Ice Cream Icy 芒果草莓雪糕冰

You can also order their icys with topping that are pre-set. These are their most popular combinations. We tried the Strawberry Mango Ice Cream Icy topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a mango sauce drizzle. You sure get a ton of fruits!

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Mango Ice Cream Mochi Icy芒果雪糕冰

The Mango Ice Cream Mochi Icy was one of my favourites since you get fresh mangoes, mango mochi balls, original mochi balls, a scoop of vanilla ice cream and mango sauce on top. Their mangoes are fresh and sweet. I also love their homemade mochi balls.

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Pancake Series 班戟

The Pancake Series come in four choices for flavours: taro, durian, mango, and strawberry.

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These pillowy pancakes are filled with fresh cream and the respective fruits. I tried the durian pancake and it was definitely very creamy and strong in durian flavour. The taste lingered in my palette for quite some time…

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Black Rice with Coconut Milk 椰汁黑糯米

The Black Rice with Coconut Milk was slightly sweet and very coconuty in flavour. The black rice gave this dessert a nice chew.

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Tea Egg茶葉蛋

One of their very few savoury items is the Tea Egg, which is a very common snack in Taiwan and Asia. The cracked appearance comes from pre-boiled egg which is cracked and boiled again in tea and other sauces.

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The yolk is fully cooked and firm and I liked the star anise and tea flavour.

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Chocolate Honey Toast 巧克力金磚

Back to some sweets, we had the Chocolate Honey Toast. The toast is cut into the cubes and topped with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. Surprisingly, this wasn’t too sweet and the toast was crunchy.

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Plant Pudding 盆栽布丁

The Plant Puddings were both pretty to look at and tasted great. There are five flavours to choose from: Original, durian, mango, Oreo, and tiramisu. My favourite was the tiramisu as the ingredients like the cream and coffee just naturally went well together. If you like durian though, you will find this the durian plant pudding quite satisfying as there are chunks of durian in the dessert.

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Red Bean Green Tea Ice Cream on Thick Toast 红豆抹茶冰淇淋

Another thick toast was the Red Bean Green Tea Ice Cream on Thick Toast. Green tea and red bean naturally go well together, so this was quite good. The toast also kept its firmness and the dessert was not overly sweet.

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Tofu Pudding豆腐花 

To finish off our night, we got to sample the Tofu Pudding with a variety of toppings (same toppings as shaved ice). Even though I piled a lot of toppings on top, the tofu pudding wasn’t too sweet, which I liked.

Overall, Icy Bar has a large variety of desserts and there is something for both the hot and cold days. My favourites of the night were their shaved ice and tofu pudding. Great spot to chill with friends and share some desserts.

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Uncle Willy’s

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Uncle Willy’s brings back memories when you were a kid and buffets were the  best things ever. And that’s exactly why K and I were craving it… I mean it’s still around, so we decided to go check it out to see if the food has improved or what.

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Arriving on a Saturday night, the place was actually decently packed with 80% of the tables filled. Dinner on a weekend goes at around $17 after tax, so it’s not exactly the cheapest thing ever to get a meal for dinner, but quite a good price for a buffet.

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I had read reviews beforehand that pictures were not allowed in the restaurant, so I had to sneakily get these at my table. The choices are quite your typical and basic. I started off with some chicken noodle soup, corn, pasta salad, lasagna, lamb curry, mashed potatoes, ham and their famous fried chicken. I mean, everything was just average or below average. The fried chicken was decent, but the skin wasn’t very crispy. The ham is sliced when you ask, and I found this to be too salty for my liking.

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My second round was a different type of pasta salad, some more mashed potatoes with gravy, the roast beef, and fried chicken again. The mashed potatoes here are done quite well and the gravy is also not too salty. The roast beef was much better than the ham, and this is also sliced when you ask the server to. All in all, everything was mediocre. You could try to fill up on the roast beef and fried chicken to get your money’s worth.

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The main courses were pretty average, so I decided to go for their desserts. Most of their desserts look either overly sweet or just did not look appealing. Looked like they had sat there for quite a while, so I skipped the cakes and pastries. Instead, I went to another favourite of the regulars here which is their soft serve ice cream. I also got a bowl of jello, which of course is a no brainer to make. You can also get chocolate sauce on your soft serve. This was pretty good with the soft serve being quite thick so it wasn’t watery.

Overall, Uncle Willy’s is what it is. It’s a place to go back because it’s nostalgic, but K and I have both agreed that it’ll probably be our last time. Unless you can eat tons of roast beef and fried chicken, you’re better off spending that $17 elsewhere. Plus, the ambiance wasn’t the prettiest thing. I almost felt like it was a bit dirty…

Pros:
– Fried chicken and roast beef are pretty good
– One of the cheaper buffets around town

Cons:
– Rest of food was mediocre or below average
– Ambiance isn’t nice and felt a bit dirty

Price Range: $10-20

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

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

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Potter’s Garden

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Since we were in the Metrotown area, we decided to grab some food after hiking. We ended up going to Potter’s Garden. There were customers constantly coming in, which is always a good sign! I believe the owners are Korean as well, but they can speak fluent English, so no problem with ordering here!

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They first start you off with some appetizers. Here, we have marinated seaweed salad, beansprouts, sweet potatoes, and kimchi. We actually got two sets of these for 5 people, and I’m pretty sure you can ask for a refill.

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They also provide you with lettuce so you can wrap your grilled meat, some dipping sauces, and my favourite ssamjang.

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Bulgogi

We started off with the Bulgogi, which is just stir fried marinated tender beer with vegetables. Since we only ordered two grilled dishes, they did not open up the grill for us to grill on our own. I actually prefer that since I don’t exactly enjoy the grilling part and smelling like grilled food afterwards. The meat was very tender and flavourful. Along with ssamjang and wrapped with lettuce, it was very delicious!

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LA Galbi Jui

Next, we got the LA Galbi Jui, which are grilled marinated prime ribs. I found the ribs to be slightly disappointing as the meat was a bit tough to chew. And of course, there weren’t too much meat as well. The sauce was very good though.

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Nakji-dolsot-bibimbap – rice mixed with assorted vegetables, octopus, optional red pepper paste in a hot stone pot

My favourite of the night was the Nakji-dolsot-bibimbap. This was your typical bibimbap or rice in hot stone bowl with a twist. It has assorted vegetables like bean sprouts, carrots, and zucchini, but also octopus! The octopus was very tender and easy to chew. It was also dressed with the red pepper paste so it was very flavourful and feisty! Recommend!

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Japchae

We got our all time favourite Japchae, which is potato noodles stir-fried with vegetables and beef. This was a small size and was a good portion to share so everyone could get some. It was filled with lots of vegetables and beef, so you would get some crunch to it.

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Haemul Pajeon (seafood)

Lastly, we got the Haemul Pajeon, which is the Korean style pancake with seafood. Again, this was the mall size. I thought this was done very well as the top was crispy, and they didn’t cheap out on the seafood. It had a mix of squid, shrimp, and of course lots of chives.

Overall, Potter’s Garden was quite good for the value. Nothing too outstanding, but I would probably revisit again when I want Korean food near Kingsway. I believe they are also open until 2 a.m., so a perfect place to get some drinks and late night snacks.

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Icy Bar 利源冰店

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K had been to Icy Bar before and said its a great deal for large portions of shaved ice. We decided to go since we had just finished doing some shopping at Metrotown. They have several locations, including the night market, but their stores are usually at food courts. This is their first sit in restaurant located on Kingsway.

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We arrived at an odd time in the middle of the day, so there weren’t too many customers. However, shortly after, there were around 3 more tables.

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Mango Ice Cream Icy

We shared the Mango Ice Cream Icy, which is huge! It’s a huge pile of ice, but they don’t cheap out on the mangoes either. There was probably a two mangoes used here. On top, there is a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream, topped with mango syrup. It’s seriously perfect for anyone who loves mangoes. Plus, the whole dish after tax and tips was under $6! Such a great deal! The mangoes were fresh and sweet, and by the end of this, we were having a bit of a brainfreeze.

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They also provide you with a whole bottle of condensed milk, so you can go crazy with this sweetener. Usually, other restaurants only give you a small cup. The great thing about Icy Bar is that there isn’t a minimum order per person. That way, you can share these dishes with many people. They also have a bunch of other shaved ice, including ones where you can choose 8 ingredients. We also saw they had mango and durian pancakes. A chill place to hang out. Service wasn’t bad either.

Icy Bar 利源冰店 on Urbanspoon