Pacific Poké

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Disclosure: All food and beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are my own.

Pacific Poké opened up at the end of last year on Main Street in Chinatown. Thanks to VancityTastes, I was able to give their menu a try. The interior is clean and minimal with cute cacti plants on the tables. The location seats around 20 people inside but many opt to take out their poké bowls.

 

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The menu is similar to many other poké shops. You can either build your own or choose the chef prepared creations. To build your own, a regular bowl costs $12 (two proteins and three toppings) whereas a large goes for $14 (three proteins and four toppings). The options for your base include organic brown rice, traditional sushi rice, quinoa salad base or a kale salad base. Proteins include salmon, ahi tuna, negitoro, albacore tuna, crab and shrimp, and also seasonal selections such as hamachi.

 

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You’ll notice that the number of toppings to choose from is more limited than many of the other poké shops. However, at Pacific Poké, they pride themselves in using high quality ingredients and setting high standards in execution. This includes how the fish is cut perfectly into the same size and the details that go into putting the bowls together. The head chef and sous chef both have many years of experience in fine dining and it definitely shows in the food they present.

 

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The Main

We got to try the chef pre-arranged bowls which I always go for on my first try at poké shops. Getting these bowls, I know I won’t mess up with overloading on random toppings. There are four pre-arranged options, with one being vegetarian. We tried the other three bowls, including The Main, which features salmon, spicy tuna, crab and shrimp jicama, cucumber, avocado, nori, sesame miso sauce, lime and yuzu juice, green onion, and fresh herbs. This bowl was fresh with the lime and yuzu juice really pulling through and hints of spicy flavour from the tuna. I’d say this is a safe bowl for first-timers.

 

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The Keefer

My favourite however was The Keefer which featured ahi and albacore tuna negitoro, avocado, nori, fresh wasabi peas, mixed herbs, classic sesame shoyu, and lime juice. Although this bowl tasted very healthy with the greens, it was extremely flavourful and light. I especially liked the wasabi peas which I don’t normally find at other poké shops. I actually took a bowl of this home and my dad ended up eating it and absolutely loved it. He commented that the fish was very fresh and the sushi rice was cooked perfectly.

 

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The Cali

If you like spicy, then The Cali would probably be your choice. This bowl features spicy salmon, crab and shrimp, pickled red onion, avocado nori, green onion, sprouts, and spicy mayo. I really liked the pickled red onions in this bowl which balanced well with the spicy sashimi.

 

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Poké Panini

Other than the typical bowls, they also have Poké Paninis. Pictured above is the Tuna Panini which is filled with crab and tobioko mix, pickled red onion, avocado, nori, wasabi and miso mayo, green onion and sprouts. On the right is the Salmon Panini which is filled with crab and shrimp, pickled red onion, avocado, nori, spicy sauce, and tomato kimchi.

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To wash it all down, they also have three homemade drinks, including the Strawberry Green Tea, Yuzu Lemon Tea, and Coco Panda (which is a coconut pandan drink). Overall, I highly recommend Pacific Poké due to the chef’s care in ingredients and detail. You can really taste how fresh the food is here and the toppings are meant to go well in all variations. The chefs also curated a menu that is more health conscious, and I definitely felt that way after my bowl. Although more pricey than Pokeritto, the pricing is similar to many of the other poké shops, and I would pay a little more for the quality.

 

Pacific Poke Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Ajishou

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Ajishou opened up earlier this year at the new Garden City mall. The interior is surprisingly very nice inside with a very modern look and a long sushi bar on one side. I heard that their lunch menu is quite affordable, so decided to give it a try. You can order a la carte, but they also have a lot of combos that range from $10 – $15. The dinner menu is much more expensive.

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Many of their lunch combos, like the one I got comes with miso soup. This was quite average and wasn’t anything special.

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Rainbow Chirashi Combo

I chose the Rainbow Chirashi Combo which comes with a Japanese salad, tempura, a chirashi-don, and some orange slices. The set was $12.50 and I thought it looked like a lot of food, but I was actually still hungry after. The chirashi-don is super small. And when I say small, I mean the amount of rice given was so little, that it left me hungry. You would think that they would give you more rice since it’s cheap, but I thought the ratio of sashimi to rice was really odd. There was salmon, tuna, hamachi, hokigai, ebi, avocado and tamago. The fact that they gave cooked shrimp instead of shrimp sashimi was slightly disappointing. The quality of the sashimi itself was average. It was fresh and not bad, but nothing to get excited about. Salad was typical with the usual Japanese dressing. As for the tempura, they actually give you two prawns, a squash, and yam. Batter was too thick, so reminded me of all you can eat tempura.

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Ajishou Special Sushi Combo A

S got the Ajishou Special Sushi Combo A for $10.75. The set comes with dynamite roll, California roll, and cucumber roll. As you can see, the sushi is not very well constructed. The dynamite roll was cut too thinly so all the filling fell out. Even the California started to fall apart. Everything was just a mess and these are super simple rolls!

Overall, S and I were quite disappointed with Ajishou. The prices would be reasonable if they could execute with their quality and construction of the sushi. However, given there are so many other sushi restaurants in Vancouver to choose from, I don’t think I would be returning.

Pros:
– Ambiance is nice

Cons:
– Rolls fall apart easily
– Expensive for average quality, especially a la carte

Price Range: $10-20

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

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

Ajishou Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Assembli

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Disclosure: All food and beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are based on my own personal experience.

Last week, we were invited to check out the newly opened Assembli on Cambie between West 7th and 8th near Broadway station. The focus on two main items: pizzas and salads. What differentiates them is the fact that their pizzas and salads are one set price and you can add as many ingredients as you want. This means the customer doesn’t end up with an expensive meal at checkout, and also makes it easier for the staff as they don’t need to constantly keep track of what “additional” items you got. 11 inch pizzas are $12.99 and salads come in regular size for $10.99 and large for $12.99.

 

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The interior has high ceilings and a beautiful painting of Vancouver. There are enough seats for you to dine in, but because of how quick the assembly line is, you can also grab and go. They offer online ordering for pick up, but have also teamed up with some other delivery companies, like Foodora to deliver straight yo your place. While we were there, I couldn’t help but notice the constant in and out of the Foodora deliveries.

 

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If you choose to come in to make your pizza or salad, then you can see all the ingredients you can add through the glass shield.

 

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Although you can customize your pizzas and salads, for those of you who cannot make decisions when there are an overwhelming amount of options, you can choose preset options. We were able to try some of these preset options at the tasting.

 

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O-Mega Brainiac

We started off trying some of their salads which were beautiful in colour. The O-Mega Brainiac came with mixed greens, quinoa, cucumber, cabbage, blueberries, beets, avocado salsa, walnuts, seed mix, and the goddess dressing. Normally, this salad comes with the glory dressing which is more of a tahini dressing. This was bright and great for the summer with the blueberries and avocado salsa.

 

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Sexy Hippie

One of my favourites was the Sexy Hippie which has brown rice, quinoa, roasted root veggies, celery, beets, parsley, walnuts, apple, and a honey dijon dressing. I think the honey dijon dressing was what got me as it was slightly acidic but sweet at the same time, making it very appetizing.

 

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Wild Cowboy

The Wild Cowboy reminded me of a deconstructed taco or burrito with all the fillings you would normally find in Mexican food. This had mixed greens, romaine, black beans, mixed bell peppers, roasted corn salsa, brown rice, cheddar, pico de gallo, and a southwest dressing. Ours also came with shredded chicken. Another favourite for me and I don’t even normally order salads!

 

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All Greek to Me

Onto the pizzas, these are just the right thickness. The crust is not as thin as flatbread, but not thick like the ones you get at Pizza Hut. Just the perfect thickness! The All Greek to Me pizza normally comes with genoa salami, goat feta, mozzarella, roasted red peppers, olives, olive oil tossed kale, artichoke, tomato sauce, and balsamic drizzle. Ours came without the salami but was already flavourful enough. This was my least favourite pizza as I’m not a fan of feta or olives. That’s exactly why the customization ability is perfect here!

 

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Smoke & Fire

Smoke and Fire features pepperoni, smoked cheddar, mozzarella, banana peppers, red onion, and a spicy tomato sauce. This is for those who love a bit of a kick. I actually really enjoyed this but would probably need a beer with it!

 

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Backyard BBQ

A colourful pizza was the Backyard BBQ which features herb-roasted chicken, mozzarella, cheddar cheese, red onion, bell peppers, cilantro, bbq sauce, yogurt drizzle, and an adobo sauce drizzle. The pizza is sweet from the onions and bbq sauce and would be great with the kids.

 

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Smooth Crimini Kale

Lastly, the Smooth Crimini Kale was my favourite. I love meat, but sometimes I actually crave vegetarian pizzas. This pizza has sautéed mushrooms, mozzarella, olive oil tossed kale, artichoke, red onion, and white sauce. All my favourite ingredients and you also feel super healthy eating it.

 

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Fiasco Gelato

Other than pizzas and salads, they also have a select few desserts, smoothies and gelato! Assembli carries the Fiasco brand gelato in their single serve cups. With so many flavours to choose from like Salted Caramel, Bourbon Vanilla, Dark Chocolate Sea Salt, and even dairy free sorbettos like Mango Pineapple, Strawberry Rhubarb, and Raspberry Lime, there is a flavour for everyone!

 

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Overall, Assembli offers fresh ingredients and the ability to customize at a flat price. Definitely a great spot to grab and go or sit down for a quick eat. I love how you can also make your meal really healthy or not so healthy depending on what you add to your pizza or salad. Plus, they have happy hour with drinks for $5 and salads and pizzas for $10!

Assembli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Taishoken

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Taishoken has been around for many years now, but for some reason or another, I never visited the restaurant. Possibly because its in Chinatown and I don’t go to that area that often. We arrived after work and were surprised to see a line up but luckily the wait was only around 15 minutes.

 

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They have around 6 options for ramen, but they are well known for their tsukemen, or dipping ramen.

 

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Pork Gyoza

You can add $3.50 to get a side with your ramen, so we got the Pork Gyoza. With a very nice char and crispy edges, these reminded me of the ones we had in Japan.

 

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Tonkotsu

S got the Tonkotsu which comes with 2 slices of pork chashu, bamboo shoots, seaweed, green onion and a soft boiled egg. The broth is a mix of pork and chicken. The broth is much thicker than what we are normally used to, so I thought it was bit oily although it was very flavourful.

 

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Tsukemen

For myself, I had to get what they are famous for, which is the Tsukemen. You can choose between, original, spicy or garlic miso. You also have the option to choose cold or warm noodles. I went for the original broth with cold noodles. The noodles come separately from the broth, so that you can dip the noodles into the broth each time you eat. The rich shoyu pork and chicken broth is topped with 2 slices of chashu, green onion, seaweed, bamboo shoots and a soft boiled egg.  The noodles are much firmer and thicker, but they are meant to be this way so that the thick broth sticks to the noodles. I really enjoyed the broth, but the problem I had was that the broth got cold very quickly. However, I saw some other guests ask for a hot stone to put under the bowl, so perhaps that could solve the problem. You can choose between lean or fatty pork as well, and of course I got the latter. I liked how the pork is a bit charred so it gives a smoky flavour. The fatty pork melts in your mouth, so I would definitely get that again. The egg was a bit of a disappointment though as it was not runny.

Overall, I can see why people line up for Taishoken. I would recommend getting the Tsukemen, but I think the Tonkotsu was nothing too special compared to the other ramen shops in Vancouver. Prices are pretty reasonable and service was typical to other ramen shops.

Pros:
– Good for tsukemen
– Cha-shu is nicely charred and melts in your mouth

Cons:
– Seating is a bit cramped and not very comfortable
– Broths can be a bit greasy

Price Range: $10-15

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

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

Taishoken Ramen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ritual

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Finally catching up on some posts! A few months back, S, N and I checked out Ritual on Denman. Ritual offers farm to table cuisine and offers both brunch and dinner. I believe they also have happy hour everyday and late night happy hour on Friday and Saturday.

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We checked out Ritual for brunch on the weekend, and the ambiance is very cozy with pillows along the bench and fairy lights. Definitely a nice spot to get comfortable and have long chats. It wasn’t too busy the time we visited, so we were able to sit around for quite a while.

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Lavender Latte

During brunch, there are a variety of coffee and teas along with cocktails.

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Tea Latte

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Curried Beef Brisket Hash

N got the Curried Beef Brisket Hash, which I don’t believe is on the menu anymore. A hearty dish with crimini mushrooms, roast garlic, cilantro, yogurt, pickled onions and rosemary yukons, this was full of flavour.

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Overall, I quite enjoyed my brunch at Ritual. Flavours were on point and I enjoyed the cozy environment. Ritual was well known when they first opened due to their no tipping policy and the fact that their staff were being paid higher wages in return. However, weeks later, management realized this was not working and has reverted back to the traditional ways. Unfortunate, but regardless, the food is great and I will be returning.

Pros:
– Solid brunch items
– Cozy ambiance

Cons:
– Seating itself can be a little cramped

Price Range: $15-20

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

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

Ritual Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pink Pearl Chinese Restaurant – 4 Decades of Dim Sum

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NOTE: All food and beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are based on my own personal experience.

Last month, I was invited to Pink Pearl Chinese Restaurant co-hosted by ChineseBites, Stephanie Yuen, and Gojoy Berries to celebrate 4 decades of dim sum. Pink Pearl has been opened for 40 years since the 1980s and is one of Vancouver’s oldest Chinese restaurants.

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 Steamed Shrimp Dumplings

First up were some Steamed Shrimp Dumplings which are a staple at dim sum. The shrimp was juicy and wrapping was thin.

 

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Liver and Pork Dumplings

The Liver and Pork Dumplings date back to the 1980s and I’m definitely not a fan of this version. I much prefer the modern version with the tobiko fish roe on top. Liver is quite chalky and I only really eat it when it’s in congee.

 

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Duck Web Wrap

The Duck Web Wrap is also from the 1980s and I quite enjoyed this version. Wrapped inside the bean curd is also taro, ham, and mushrooms. However, all the ingredients easily fell out, so execution-wise, it doesn’t really work out. However, flavours were great together!

 

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Mini Steamed Pork Bun

Another staple at dim sum are Steamed Pork Buns. Great dish to fill you up.

 

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Shrimp Toast

Another 1980s dish is the Shrimp Toast, which I’ve never seen at dim sum. I actually quite enjoyed this as the shrimp paste is put on toast and then deep fried. A little greasy, but I think this should be back on the modern day menus!

 

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Steamed Sticky Rice Roll

Steamed Sticky Rice Rolls are literally carbs on carbs. These buns are filled with sticky rice so can get quite filling.

 

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Handmade Steamed Beef Rice Rolls

Rice rolls are now filled with a variety of ingredients, but beef and shrimp rice rolls are always a staple.

 

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Handmade Steamed Shrimp Rice Rolls

 

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Lotus Wrapped Sticky Rice

Most restaurants serve their Lotus Wrapped Sticky Rice in smaller portions (usually two or three fit in a container), but these are one gigantic portion, so you share it amongst your table.

 

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Pan Fried Half Moon Dumplings

Another dish from the 1980s is the Pan Fried Half Moon Dumplings. It comes with a dipping sauce with chives, but I found the batter of the dumplings to be a bit too thick. Not a fan of this, but it seems like I’m not a fan of most of the dishes from the 1980s!

 

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Wok Fried Lotus Root and Vegetables

Featuring Gojoy gojiberries, this dish has an abundance of vegetables and the lotus roots really give it a great crunch. The gojiberries themselves are very fresh so they are not your typical wrinkly dried gojiberries.

 

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Gojoy Gojiberries Gelle

For dessert, the first dessert also featured the Gojoy gojiberries. The jelly is light and not too sweet.

 

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Black and White Sesame Roll

Laslty, the Black and White Sesame Roll are subtly sweet and a good way to end a usually greasy dim sum morning.

 

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Overall, it was a great experience to try dim sum dishes from over 4 decades, many of which I was unfamiliar with and haven’t seen on modern day menus.

 

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From May 1 – August 31, 2017, Pink Pearl is holding a fundraiser with a dinner menu for 10 – 12 people for $568 including tax and gratuities. Net proceeds will go to the Vancouver Food Bank and Vancouver Sower Society. More details on Pink Pearl’s website.

 

Pink Pearl Chinese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

MYST Asian Fusion – ChineseBites Media Event

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NOTE: All food and beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are based on my own personal experience.

Two weeks ago, MYST Asian Fusion opened in Burnaby. The parking lot in the front can get filled up quickly during peak hours, but free street parking is available along Kingsway. The restaurant features a variety of Asian inspired dishes and has modern decor that even lights up at night giving a lounge feel. We were invited by ChineseBites to check out some of their dishes.

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Calpis Butterfly Pea Flower and Strawberry Lemon Butterfly Pea Flower

There is a long list of drinks available, including your typical bubble tea. They also have a few versions of the Butterfly Pea Flower, which has become a popular drink on many bubble tea shop menus.

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Green Apple Slush

Their Slushies are also super cute, with marshmallows and chocolate eyes. Liquor is also available for drinks, including my favourite Taiwanese fruit beers!

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Steamed Sticky Rice Dumplings

Onto food, we tried the Steamed Sticky Rice Dumplings which are common at Shanghainese restaurants. Because there is rice inside, I find that this dish tends to be on the dry side.

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Assorted Deep Fried Basket

The Assorted Deep Fried Basket was filled with deep fried squid, pork blood, and chicken. A great dish to share.

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MYST Deluxe Marinated Pork with Rice

This dish was definitely a deluxe take on the classic Taiwanese marinated pork on rice. It was topped with lots of Taiwanese sausage and a sunny side egg. Mix it all together, and this was delicious and full of flavour!

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Marinated 3 Item Combo (Seaweed, Dried Tofu, Pork Ear String)

The Marinated 3 Item Combo is common among Taiwanese cuisine. Not my favourite though as I am not a huge fan of pork ear.

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Chives, Shrimp & Pork Dumplings

The dumplings were simple but very tasty and flavourful. The chili soy sauce on the side was addicting!

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MYST Beef Noodle Soup

The MYST Beef Noodle Soup is filled with shank, tripe, and tendon.

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TaiNan Style Egg Noodle Soup

A very different noodle compared to the above, the TaiNan Style Egg Noodle Soup is less flavourful but a great option if you want a more clear broth.

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Fried Chicken in Chili Pepper

The Fried Chicken were large in size and deep fried to a golden brown while the meat remained moist. Yummy!

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Preserved Cabbage with Shredded Pork Fried Rice Cake

A simple dish, but very tasty, with the rice cakes being just the right amount of chew. Not too oily either.

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Delicious Sandwiches

A classic favourite for kids, these sandwichese were filled with tomato, egg, ham, and cucumber.

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Skewers

  • Pork intestine $2.25/each
  • Lamb $2.25/each
  • Pork $2.25/each
  • Chicken $2.25/each
  • Fish cake $3.50/each
  • Chicken gizzard $2.25/each

When I say MYST has a large variety of dishes, I’m not kidding because they even have skewers! You don’t need to go to the night market to get your fix of these. However, I did find that they lack the char that the night market ones have.

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House Special Spicy Lamb Hot Pot

My favourite of the night was the House Special Spicy Lamb Hot Pot. It was filled with tender slices of lamb, imitation crab, and a variety of vegetables. The broth was spicy and very flavourful! This is served with rice and a few side dishes.

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MYST Jelly

For dessert, we tried the MYST Jelly which is tasted like wintermelon and brown sugar. Slightly too sweet for some as wintermelon can often be. The texture was also a bit odd as it seemed like too much gelatin was put in it.

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MYST Taiyaki

The MYST Taiyaki comes in a waffle bowl, with matcha ice cream, red beans, mochi balls, and a red bean filled taiyaki. The mochi balls are melon flavoured which was interesting! Not bad, but I found the mochi to be more hard than chewy.

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Strawberry Shaved Snowflake

The Strawberry Shaved Snowflake is definitely picture worthy. They are smart to use a bowl shaped like this to maximize the effect of the dry ice. As for the dessert itself though, I didn’t like the artificial strawberry flavour. Perhaps the mango version would be better.

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Hakka Style Sweet Rice Cake

Lastly, we tried the Hakka Style Sweet Rice Cake, but most of us were not a fan of it. Perhaps it was the dates inside which gave a bitter aftertaste. It also tasted like there was alcohol in it, which many of us were not fond of.

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Overall, there are hits and misses at MYST Asian Fusion, but the good thing is they have such a large variety of choices so there is something for everyone. They also open from 7:30 am for breakfast until 1am from Sunday to Thursday and until 2am from Friday to Saturday.

Myst Asian Fusion Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Big G Large Fried Chicken

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Ever since we came back from Taiwan, we’ve been craving the large fried chicken you can get at the Taiwanese night markets. The first time we came across it in Vancouver was at the Richmond Night Market, and now Big G Large Fried Chicken has opened up a store front in the mall on Capstan.

 

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Take out is available, but there is also a decent amount of seats for you to dine inside.

 

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Whether you order take out or dine in, you will need to first order and pay up front. Other than the signature large fried chicken, they also have a variety of Taiwanese snacks and bubble tea.

 

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Large Fried Chicken – Seaweed Powder

Of course we had to try the Large Fried Chicken which costs $9.99 for one piece. It’s quite expensive compared to Taiwan where it’s only around $3. Here, you are able to season the chicken with a variety of flavours though and can choose up to two flavours for free. The chicken itself is huge (the size of your face), but the chicken remains moist and juicy inside with the outside being extremely crispy. We chose to have one with salt and pepper which is essentially the original flavour. The other, we chose to have seaweed powder which was my favourite. Although quite expensive, I would still come back for it and share it as a snack.

 

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Crispy Oyster Mushrooms

In Taiwan, we were also obsessed with the Crispy Oyster Mushrooms. Here, these were just as good with the oysters remaining moist and the outside well seasoned and crispy. They were priced at $5.75 but you got a decent portion.

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Big G Milk Tea

Last but not least, we got the Big G Milk Tea for $4.50 and added $0.50 for pearls. By buying one main, one snack, and one drink, we made this a combo and received $1.50 off our total combo. The milk tea is okay, but nothing super special, so I find it quite expensive.

Overall, we are happy that we now have the large fried chicken available in Richmond. It makes a great snack when you are craving something deep fried and the best part is they open late!

Pros:
– Chicken is moist and batter is crispy
– Open late

Cons:
– Not exactly cheap for fried chicken

Price Range: $10-20

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

Food: 4 Service: 3 Ambiance: 2.5 Parking: 3 Overall: 3.5

Big G Large Fried Chicken Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato