Starbucks Reserve (Vancouver)

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Note: All beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are  based on my own experience.

On May 9, 2017, Starbucks celebrated 30 years in Vancouver by opening the doors to its renovated Mount Pleasant location (Main & 14th) – the first Western Canada store to feature an experiential Reserve coffee bar.

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If you have been to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle,  then this new store is a take on the same concept, but without the roasting facility. Did you know that the first Starbucks store in Canada opened at the Seabus Skytrain Station in 1987? To celebrate the 30th anniversary, the fully renovated Mt. Pleasant location is the first store in Vancouver to feature an experiential Starbucks Reserve® coffee bar.

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The reserve bar has an expansive six-foot oak bar top, where customers sit face to face with their barista, immersed in the brewing and conversation around coffee.  Unfortunately, I went on a weekend and the reserve bar was extremely busy, so I didn’t get to experience this feature. The bar is first come first serve, and you still have to order your drinks at the cash registers. It seats only around 10 customers, so try to come during more quiet times.

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If you aren’t able to get a seat at the reserve bar, fear not, as there are plenty of comfy seating at this location. Brick walls and concrete floors contrasted with golden blonde oak and walnut, warm the space creating a comfortable and conversational atmosphere. The woodwork was all hand crafted by a local millworker and the loose furniture was primarily produced by a local furniture shop, celebrating local Vancouver talent and connecting with the community.

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At this location, the following brewing techniques are available: siphon, The Black Eagle, Clover® brewer and ceramic pour-over. The equipment are also available for purchase.

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The siphon equipment reminds me of science class and is lots of fun to watch when in action.

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The vacuum-filtration method produces a delicate and aromatic cup of coffee.

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The Chemex is a brewer with a triple layer paper filter that makes a smooth and clean cup of coffee.

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The reserve also features Nitro Draft taps. The cold brew is infused with nitrogen to give a more creamy, smooth texture. The drink does not come with ice as the brew comes out cold from the tap already.

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The reserve features both the usual menu but also a reserve exclusive menu. Cold brew and espresso with your choice of brewing method along with coffee and ice cream make up this exclusive menu.

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We decided to try a variety of the reserve exclusive drinks. Starting from the left is the Iced Hazelnut Bianco Latte which is a house-made hazelnut-praline-infused milk combined with their small-lot espresso coffee. I really enjoyed this as it had a strong hazelnut flavour. In the middle is the House Affogato which features two shots of espresso with a touch of demerara syrup poured over vanilla ice cream and dusted with cinnamon. So delicious! A must order if you visit as it is a refreshing treat when you are craving ice cream and coffee.  On the very right is the Nitro Cold-Brew Float which features the cold brew with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I personally enjoyed the House Affogato more.

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The shop also sells coffee beans including the Rwanda Abakundakawa, Malawi Sable Farms, and Peru San Ignacio, among the usual beans they sell at other stores.

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Exclusive Reserve merchandise are also available for sale including these gorgeous tumblers.

Overall, I love that Starbucks now offers this unique experience in Vancouver. Adding to the elevated experience, all partners are Coffee Masters or currently working on their designation. This designation is the highest level of coffee education for Starbucks where baristas have perfected their craft through coursework and exploration of all Starbucks coffees and are awarded the honour of wearing the black apron. Not only are you able to enjoy a high quality beverage at this location, but you may learn something new!

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

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L’Éclair de Génie

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

L’Éclair de Génie has finally arrived in Vancouver on Robson Street and is the first boutique in North America. L’Éclair de Génie is a pastry concept started by renowned chef Christophe Adam. L’Éclair de Génie is adored worldwide with 25 boutiques throughout France, Japan, Hong Kong, Italy, and now here in Canada.

 

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There are usually ten flavours of éclairs at the boutique with two new flavours rotating each month. The brightly lit éclair shop is great for take out but also offers some seating in the back and along the side of the wall.

 

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Chef Christophe has dedicated the last 14 years to creating a chic snacking version of the French pastry landmark, the éclair. He flew in from Paris for the launch of the Vancouver store to share his passion for these delicious sweets.

 

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During the media preview, we were able to sample the  following flavours:

  • Caramel Beurre Salé: salted caramel & mascarpone cream
  • Vanille Pécan: vanilla cream & caramelized pecan
  • Chocolat Grand Cru: chocolate cream
  • Frambroise Passion: passionfruit cream, raspberry confit & fresh raspberries
  • Sirop D’érable: maple cream
  • Matcha Bambou: matcha cream & white chocolate
  • Pistache Framboises: pistachio chantilly, raspberry confit, fresh raspberries & roasted pistachios
  • Praliné Noisette: caramel mascarpone cream, hazelnut praline & caramelized hazelnuts
  • Citron Yuzu: lemon yuzu cream & crispy merringue
  • Vanille Framboise: vanilla cream, raspberry confit, fresh raspberries & white chocolate

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The Sirop D’érable which features an exclusive I love Vancouver design has definitely been a hit for the Vancouverites. Filled with maple cream, the éclair is rich but not overly sweet due to its petite size.  

 

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My favourite éclairs were the Citron Yuzu, Framboise Passion, and Pistache Framboises since I tend to like sweet and sour sweets. The amount of filling for these éclairs are just the right amount and the presentation is absolutely beautiful. The sweets range from around $6 – $7.

 

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Aside from éclairs, the boutique also offers a beautiful array of chocolates.

 

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Pastries are also available, which along with the éclairs, pair perfectly with their coffee and tea selection.

 

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Looking for a gift or to treat yourself? The boutique has a variety of take home sweets including caramelized almonds.

 

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And how cute are these chocolate bars?

 

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Overall, L’Éclair de Génie offers a delicious and beautiful variety of éclairs and I can’t wait to be back. It’s always great to have international boutiques opening up in Vancouver so we can too get a taste of these delicious pastries.

Chef Christophe Adam has also recently released his new cookbook: ÉCLAIRS Easy, Elegant & Modern Recipes. Check out my review on this step by step cookbook on making your own éclairs!

L’Éclair de Génie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

On Yogurt

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

Last month, I was invited to a media tasting at On Yogurt organized by Jacqueline to try their new menu item, Taiyaki Ice Cream. It was my first time visiting On Yogurt, and I was excited because I have been hearing about their ice fried yogurt. Ice fried doesn’t mean the yogurt is actually fried. Instead, the yogurt is flash frozen so the outside is icy and crispy while the middle smooth and creamy. The yogurt is then rolled and placed in cups and you can add various toppings. I believe this is a popular dessert in Thailand, but we luckily have it in Vancouver now!

 

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Oreo

They currently offer five flavours:

  • Strawberry
  • Oreo
  • Creme Brulee
  • Matcha
  • Chocolate

The taiyaki is filled with their famous ice fried yogurt and topped with complimentary toppings depending on the flavour. The filling below the ice cream is different for each flavour as well, including custard, nutella, red bean, and coconut paste.

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Crème Brûlée

When we first tried it, one side of the fish pastry was croissant, while the other side was the typical cake batter we are usually familiar with. This caused one side to burn quicker. Since then, they have revised their taiyaki so that both sides are croissant and therefore crispier.

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Matcha

I have to say, I really enjoyed the texture of the ice fried yogurt. You get a much firmer texture and once its in your mouth, it melts into a very creamy and smooth texture.

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Strawberry

Overall, I really enjoyed the ice fried yogurt itself, but I found that paired with the hot taiyaki, the yogurt melted too quickly even though it is already very firm. Still, it is fun to watch the ice fried yogurt being made, and I think I would stick with the yogurt just in a cup next time until they have perfected the melting issue.

On Yogurt Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ice Pik Shavery

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

IcePik Shavery has been around for over a year now and features a hybrid between Hawaiian shaved ice and ice cream. They claim that this “snow cream” therefore has a nice fluffy snow-like texture. I’ve been wanting to visit for a long time now, but I don’t go to Burnaby often. So when Jacqueline invited me to a tasting, I couldn’t say no!

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You first order at the counter and then you can eat in as there are a decent amount of seats. They have ready-made combos as well as the choice to customize your own.

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Matcha Snow Cream

First, you will need to pick your size: regular ($4.50) or large ($5.50).

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Earl Grey Snow Cream

Next, you select your snow cream flavour. Flavours include:

  • Sesame
  • Mango
  • Taro
  • Original
  • Green Tea
  • Mint
  • Coconut
  • Earl Grey

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Black Sesame Snow Cream

Next up are all the toppings you can choose from. Each topping is 60 cents. My favourites are fresh fruit like mango or strawberry and mochi balls. They have a variety of mochi flavours, like mango, original, green tea or strawberry.

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Mango Snow Cream

Other toppings include tapioca pearls, flavoured popping pearls, mango jelly, almond jelly, grass jelly, lychee jelly, red bean, and crushed Oreos.

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Mint Snow Cream

You can then pick a flavour from their drizzle station which is complimentary. The drizzles include caramel, condensed milk, chocolate and strawberry sauce.

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Coconut Snow Cream

If you don’t want to worry about choosing the wrong ingredients and ending up with a funky tasting dessert, then you can choose their ready-made combos. They will be slightly more expensive at $5.95 for a regular and $6.95 for a large, but keep in mind that it includes 3-4 toppings already so is actually a better deal.

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Sea Cream Coffee

Other than snow cream, they also have coffee and milk tea for drinks. We tried their Sea Cream Coffee which I quite enjoyed. It was slightly sweet but salty at the same time because of the sea cream.

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Overall, I quite enjoyed the snow creams at IcePik Shavery. The shaved ice is not as powdery as Snowy Village’s, but it is very fluffy. I also like how they have an assortment of flavours and toppings to choose from. Will be back for sure!

Icepik Shavery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Beard Papa Sweets Cafe

I’m sure most of you know about Beard Papa by now. It was the hype when it was first brought here from Japan, but they have locations everywhere now that it’s pretty accessible to everyone. However, a year ago, they closed down their stall inside of Richmond Centre and opened up a cafe under the London Drugs complex on No. 3 Road.

This got me really intrigued especially when I noticed that there were always customers sitting in the cafe everytime I drove by, no matter what time it was. Finally, I suggested to S that we take a small dinner and instead fill up with desserts! The cafe here has more than just their famous cream puffs and I could see why people liked to chill here. There were a mix of young and old and it was a great place to sit and chat since it is typically not packed.

Red Bean with Green Tea Ice Cream Waffle (+mochi)

We started off with the Red Bean with Green Tea Ice Cream Waffle but we paid extra to get mochi filling inside our waffle. The preset version with mochi inside doesn’t come with green tea or red bean. This reminded me of the time we first tried mochi waffles in Taipei. This was delicious with the warm and cold mix and is a great item to share with friends.

Cocoa Puff

Onto the cream puffs. We didn’t want to try the original ones since we’ve all had those. This time, we tried out their Cocoa Puff, which is essentially the same as the original but the puff itself is cocoa flavoured and the centre is filled with vanilla cream.

To be honest, I found the puff to be rather dense, so I much prefer their original batter.

Eclair

The Eclair was essentially what the name is. It’s the original cream puff with vanilla cream filling and dipped with chocolate sauce on top. I quite liked this as I’m a sucker for chocolate and this gave just the right amount of sweetness and chocolate flavour without the dense puff that the Cocoa Puff had.

Chocolate Fondant

Last but not least, we tried the Chocolate Fondant which also comes with the flavour choice of green tea.

Unfortunately, the chocolate did not ooze out as much as I wanted. These fondants are pre-made and then they reheat them so perhaps that’s why the ooze isn’t as apparent as those in restaurants. This was just average and too sweet for me personally.

Overall, we quite enjoyed Beard Papa’s Sweet Cafe. I think this would be a great spot to catch up with friends over drinks and sweets without having to crowd at the typical shaved ice and bubble tea joints. Service was also very friendly. Other than sweets, they also have savoury snacks and sandwiches, which seems a little odd. But I haven’t tried these, so I can’t comment.

Pros:
– Wide selection of both sweets and savoury
– Service is friendly and good spot to chill

Cons:
– Some hits and misses
– Many of their desserts seem to be pre-made so may not be super fresh based on traffic

Price Range: $10-20

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

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

Beard Papa's Sweet Cafe  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

PappaRoti

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

PappaRoti began in Malaysia and opened their first North American store in Vancouver on Robson St. a year ago. Thanks to Sharon, a group of food bloggers were able to try a selection of their items.

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The interior reminds me of a Blenz, with a variety of different drinks and quick bites. Very spacious and I saw many people on their laptops working away.

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Crazy for Kaya

Of course, they are famous for their freshly baked caramel coffee buns. They are twice baked so that the outside is crisp and crunchy, and pillowy soft, buttery and rich on the inside. They feature a variety of different toppings and sides and Crazy for Kaya features kaya and honey. Reminds me of kaya toast which I have a love for!

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The Works

You can also choose The Works where you are able to select your choice of any four toppings. Here, they paired strawberries, whipped cream, ice cream and bananas.

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The Classic

I think my favourite was still The Classic which features nutella and banana. The two flavours are just perfect complements and paired great with the buttery bun.

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Rise and Shine

Rise and Shine features Pappa cream cheese and jam on the side. Be sure to eat these fresh from the oven to best enjoy them. I tried them cold and they weren’t as good for sure.

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Choco Banana Pappa Rollie

Their newest addition is the Pappa Rollie. These are made with a croissant dough but has the same sweet and crispy exterior. So flaky and I liked the chocolate filling inside with banana flavouring. They also have a Coconut Pappa Rollie

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Roast Beef, Chicken Chipotle, Apple Chicken Blue Cheese, Turkey & Brie, Vegan Moroccan

I always associated PappRoti with coffee buns and had no idea they had other menu items. Well turns out you can also get sandwiches and wraps here! My favourite was the Turkey & Brie.

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They also have salads including the Island Salad and Tuscan Salad, all of which make a healthy meal.

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Other than their gourmet coffees, teas and smoothies, they also carry drinks from other brands, including Revel Juice.

Overall, I really enjoyed the coffee buns but was surprised that their other items were just as good. PappaRoti is the perfect spot to grab a quick snack or even a meal.

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

CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice (Richmond)

CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice opened up their first location in Vancouver a few months ago in downtown and have since opened another in Richmond in Broadmoor Shopping Centre. Since there was a grand opening promo going on, there was a huge line up.

We ended up waiting over 30 minutes because of the long line ups. We found service to be quite unfriendly at CoCo. I know there’s a huge line and they want to get things moving, but a smile or just thanking the customers for waiting would have been appreciated.

There is some seating in this location, but most people grab take out here.

The promo during their grand opening was buy any one of their top 10 drinks and you get a free regular sized milk tea with pearls for free.

You can choose large or regular size with a difference of 50 cents.

Three Guys

I decided to try the Three Guys which is one of their most popular drinks, consisting of grass jelly, pudding, and pearls. This is quite good as you get a bit of everything but some may find that it’s too much. I actually didn’t mind the variety especially since I love all three toppings.

Milk Tea

The free Milk Tea that came with the promo is pretty good but I still prefer the Chatime roasted milk tea. However, it definitely beats the Shiny Tea one. I would say it’s pretty good compared to the other options out there, but Chatime’s roasted milk tea is still my favourite. In terms of the pearls, they were quite chewy, a little too chewy for me personally.

Taro Milk Tea with Pearls

On another occasion, I went back to take advantage of the deal, and also because I wanted to try the Taro Sago. By the time we got to the cashier, we were told there was no sago and only pearls. I was quite annoyed as I wish they had announced that earlier since I came mostly for the sago. Well, since we had waited forever in line, we got the Taro Milk Tea with Pearls instead. This was quite disappointing with the taro tasting like powder.

Overall, CoCo falls below Chatime but above Shiny Tea for me personally. Price is around the same as Chatime at $4-5. Apparently you can also customize ice and sugar level just like Chatime but the cashiers never let the customers know. Perhaps it was because they were too busy during the promo period.

Pros:
– Solid milk tea
– Customizable sugar and ice levels

Cons:
– Service is unfriendly
– Pearls are too chewy

Price Range: $5

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

Food: 3 Service: 1.5 Ambiance: 3 Parking: 4 Overall: 3

CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice Richmond Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Honey Doughnuts & Goodies

Quarry Rock is a hike that I do pretty much every year just because it’s probably one of the easier hikes yet you still get an amazing view once up top. For years, people have been telling me about Honey Doughnuts & Goodies and that you must get some of their doughnuts after your hike. Well, since I came to hike, I thought it would be more wise to eat it first and then hike it all off… Anyways, when we arrived, they said they only had their honey doughnuts left, but they do normally have other doughnuts available.

Honey Doughnuts

We ended up all getting the Honey Doughnuts since there was nothing else available. Man, these are big doughnuts! The texture is more like a cake batter with the outside very crunchy. It sort of reminded me of the sweet Chinese doughnuts if you know what I’m talking about. Is it as amazing as how everyone says it is? I wouldn’t say so, but I wouldn’t mind coming here to grab it after or before a hike. I wouldn’t make a trip here just for the doughnuts though. I think these were around $2-3 but they are quite large and dense so can fill you up. Service was mediocre. They seemed very busy and in a rush to move the line.

Pros:
– Love the crunchy exterior
– Reasonable price for the size

Cons:
– Other doughnuts can sell out quickly
– Some people might not like this cake batter type of doughnut

Price Range: $2-5/person

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

Food:3.5 Service: 3 Ambiance: 2.5 Parking: 2 Overall: 3

Honey Doughnuts and Goodies Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato