Kinome

K loves soba noodles, so for our family outing, we decided to check out Kinome which has been much talked about for their handmade buckwheat soba noodles. They are only open for dinner and are closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Be sure to make reservations as it is usually full.

The decor inside is simple but gives an authentic Japanese feel. They have a fresh sheet that changes up.

The inside is very small. They have around 5 tables of four and the rest is bar seating. Bar seating would be perfect if you order their popular omakase menu. The only downside is there is no air conditioner here so it can get super hot.

Dashi Egg Omelette

We started off with their famous Dashi Egg Omelette. The egg was layered with seaweed and flavoured just enough while remaining a hint of sweetness. So fluffy and moist.

Today’s Sashimi

One order of Today’s Sashimi features whatever the chef believes is most fresh. You can let the server know if you don’t like a specific type of fish. Our order came with 5 types of sashimi. Our selection included Red Tuna (sustainable bluefin tuna), Sockeye Salmon, Tobi-uo (flying fish), Mizu-tako (water octopus) and Shiro-ika (white squid). Flying fish was something new for us and wasn’t too bad! It has a slimier texture but wasn’t too fishy in taste. However, this dish is quite expensive at $30 for very small cuts. Very fresh though!

Grilled Marinated Squid Legs

Next up were Grilled Marinated Squid Legs which came with a side of mayo. I liked how they had a bit of char on the ends and were very tender.

Prawn Tempura

The Prawn Tempura was battered so lightly and the shrimp itself was very fresh because it wasn’t mushy like the ones you get at all you can eat. It had that bounce! It also came with some asparagus.

Braised Berkshire Pork Belly with Grilled Leak & Miso Sauce

The Braised Berkshire Pork Belly was a delicious fatty goodness with the fat melting your mouth.

Chopped Kale & Prawn Kakiage Tempura

A favourite of mine was the Chopped Kale & Prawn Kakiage Tempura. Never though you could tempura kale! It was filled with bits of shrimp and scallop too which was delicious!

Asakusa Soba

Next up was what we came here for – their handmade buckwheat soba! They have three choices. First was the Asakusa Soba which features hand made buckwheat noodle with green onion, tempura bits, radish, seaweed, and sesame. This dish is served cold and you pour a cold broth on top and mix it together. They advise you eat it as quickly as possible so the texture remains. This one was great with a very fresh take on the traditional soba.

Zaru Soba

The Zaru Soba was what I was used to. With this one, you can truly taste how fresh the noodles are. The texture has just the right amount of firmness. I can see why people go crazy over the soba here!

Kamo Seiro Soba

My favourite was the Kamo Seiro Soba though. This was the same handmade buckwheat noodle but served with a warm duck dipping sauce. The sauce was just so flavourful without being too salty. This soba is pricey at $16 but it does come with three tender pieces of duck and is irresistible!

Cold Udon

Kinome’s dishes tend to be smaller in portion size so of course we were still hungry. We decided to try their udon which is new on the menu. There are two choices so we got both. First was the Cold Udon which I absolutely loved. I think I might even like this more than the soba. The udon here is handmade as well and very thin. The cold broth really makes the dish refreshing and keeps that firm texture.

Warm Udon

The Warm Udon featured the same thin noodles, but I felt that because it sat in the broth, the texture of the noodles became slightly soft. Still, I really enjoyed both version of the udon.

Overall, I was very impressed with Kinome’s dishes, especially their soba and udon. Prices are slightly on the higher side for the size of their dishes, but I think it’s well worth it. Plus, they are extremely environmentally friendly which is always a plus. Service was also very friendly.

Pros:
– Handmade buckwheat noodle and udon is a must order!
– Ingredients are extremely fresh

Cons:
– No air conditioning may be a problem in the summer
– Prices are slightly higher for the portions

Price Range: $20-30/person

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

Food:4.5 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: 2.5 Parking: 3.5 Overall: 4

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

Bubble Waffle Cafe – ChineseBites Media Event

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

Bubble Waffle opened a sit-in location in Kerrisdale and ChineseBites invited us to a media tasting.

The interior is rustic and the owner said he wanted to give a HK style feel to it. The prices here are a little higher than the food court stalls, but they are still affordable.

They even have a mural painted on the wall showcasing Hong Kong.

I sat with Instagrammers, Tina, Sharon, and Elaine. First up, we got to sample all the different soup bases. This was great since there are a few soups that I wouldn’t normally order, like the really spicy ones.

We then got to sample a selection of their Bubble Waffles.

They have a variety of flavours here, including original, chocolate, Oreo, cheesecake, matcha and cinnamon. These were okay, but not crispy enough.

My favourite was still the original although I found the cheesecake flavour surprisingly quite good. The cinnamon flavour was probably my least favourite.

Next up were some Taiwanese snacks. The Taiwanese Sausages were quite a hit at our table. They are a mix of sweet and savoury and have a firm texture.

My favourite snack was the Deep Fried Stinky Tofu. The outside was very crispy and the inside was piping hot. Along with the sweet and spicy sauce, this was delicious. A miss for some because of the fermented smell.

The Fish Siu Mai was quite typical and I found that it was soaked in too much soy sauce. I kind of wished it had a chili sauce on the side.

I enjoyed the Takoyaki quite a lot as these were filled with a generous amount of octopus bits and the inside wasn’t doughy like some I’ve tried.

The Taiwanese Chicken Nuggets were a hit as they were crispy with the chicken itself very moist. I loved the salt and pepper flavouring.

The Fried Shrimp Balls were a beautiful orange colour but I found them to be slightly bland. It needed a sauce to go with it.

Overall, Bubble Waffle Cafe has a great variety of snacks which you can order on its own or pay extra to add on as a side with your noodles.

The drinks came along and I got the HK Style Iced Milk Tea. Their milk teas are actually made with a blend of 5 different Sri Lankan teas. The tea also goes through a filter and is pulled, a common way of making milk teas in Hong Kong. Very silky smooth as a result.

Finally our noodles which we got to customize arrived! E got the Laksa soup base which is one of my usual orders. The soup is flavourful without being too spicy.

T got the Satay soup base which again is very flavourful. It almost tastes like you’re having hot pot!

For myself, I chose the Chiu Chow Style Minced Pork Fish Soup along with rice noodle, sliced beef, sliced beef brisket, fried shrimp ball and fish ball with shrimp. All noodles come with cabbage and bean curd. For some reason, my soup also came with corn.

Overall, Bubble Waffle is great when you’re craving hot noodles in soup on a rainy day. I also love the ability to customize everything from the soup to the toppings. You’ll be very full by the end of your meal for sure with the large portion sizes and affordable prices. A nice option to be able to eat at a location with a nicer ambiance compared to the food court now.

Bubble Waffle 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

Tasty Rice Noodles

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If you haven’t noticed already, Deer Garden at Continental Centre has moved to Union Square (where Richmond Sushi is). What’s replaced it is Tasty Rice Noodles. Thinking it would be a new restaurant, we decided to go give it a try. Upon arriving, we noticed that the logo and colours still looked like Deer Garden’s.

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The interior has also not changed. The menus have been updated to show Tasty Rice Noodles, but all the menu items and layout is exactly the same… Even the piece of paper to order your noodles has not changed.

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Original Fish Soup with Instant Noodles, Pork Balls and Vietnamese Style Pork

We both decided to do the customized fish soup noodles where you can choose a soup base, two toppings, noodles, and a drink for $8.95. S got the Original Fish Soup with Instant Noodles, Pork Balls and Vietnamese Style Pork. Everything looked the same as Deer Garden. Even the choices to customize were the same! Soup tasted just the same and was delicious and filling.

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Malay Laksa Soup with Rice Noodles, Cuttlefish Balls and Fish Puffs

For myself, I got the Malay Laksa Soup with Rice Noodles, Cuttlefish Balls and Fish Puffs. I like how the laksa soup isn’t too spicy. All the soup noodles already come with bean curd, cabbage, and mushrooms too. They’re big portions so you will be filled up for sure.

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Deep Fried Pork Chop

When you order the noodle combos, you can also get a side order by paying an additional $1.95. It always seems like a good deal, but we never realize how much food we end up ordering… We got the Deep Fried Pork Chop, which S loves.

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Desert Wings with Ginger

I suggested to get the Desert Wings with Ginger. They are always plump and the flavour is on point.

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For our drinks, we both paid an additional $1 to get it cold. We both got the Lemon Ribena. For under $25, you will be very full and satisfied. So I guess we can conclude that Tasty Rice Noodles is essentially the same as Deer Garden… Another location to get the same the food and you don’t need to fight the parking on Alexandra. Plus, it seems like there aren’t as many line ups to wait for a seat here.

Pros:
– Reasonable prices
– Huge portions

Cons:
– Don’t expect much service

Price Range: $10-15

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

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

Tasty Rice Noodles Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

G-Men @ NanChuu (Revisit)

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It’s been many years since I’ve posted about G-Men @ NanChuu. Not because I haven’t revisited in all these years, but sometimes when I revisit a restaurant, I just simply want to eat and enjoy my food. Well after go-karting with SS, SF, and J, we decided to grab some ramen in Richmond and G-Men was what was suggested. There is literally always a line up here – and I’m not really sure why because I don’t think it’s as good as the ones in downtown. I guess there’s few ramen joints in Richmond, so this will do. We ended up waiting over 30 minutes for a table.

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RCMP Ramen

SF was craving spicy so she got the RCMP Ramen which comes with thick noodles in a red chili miso pepper flavour soup. The soup looked pretty red, but SF said it actually wasn’t that spicy.

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Tonkotsu Miso Ramen with Ajitama

SS and J both got the Tonkotsu Miso Ramen and paid an additional $1.50 for an ajitama (marinated egg). The thick noodles are in a miso flavour pork bone broth. SS thought this was pretty good.

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I didn’t like how the eggs were overcooked. I like it when the yolk is still runny.

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Miso Cheese Kimchi Ae Soba

For myself, I decided to be adventurous and try something new. The Miso Cheese Kimchi Ae Soba is soupless according to the menu. The special thick noodle tossed in a small amount of miso flavour pork bone broth. I found that the broth was really thick so it got really salty. It’s topped with a marinated egg, cha-shu, corn, kimchi, seaweed, a slice of cheese, and green onions. I mixed everything together and the cheese and ramen were odd at first, but it actually works out. Not bad, but probably a one time try. I think I’d like to stick with the originals.

Pros:
– Good variety of choices
– Decent and consistent eats

Cons:
– Long waits
– I find the soup base to usually be too salty

Price Range: $10-15

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

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

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Ramen Jinya

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Ramen Jinya, located on Robson, closer towards Cambie, has been around Vancouver for many years. Finally, on a sunny weekend, S and I decided to try it out with K. We went at a pretty odd time in the afternoon, so we only had a short wait. Still, the place is packed any time of the day!

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The interior is nice and modern, and seating feels much more spacious than many other ramen shops in Downtown. Service was also extremely friendly and attentive.

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Crispy Chicken with Salad

S went for a combo for his noodles, so by adding an extra $4.50, he got the Crispy Chicken with Salad. I didn’t try this but it had a very nice crispy golden batter.

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Tonkotsu Miso Ramen

K got the Tonkotsu Mison Ramen, which features pork belly char-siu, kikurage, green onion, spicy been sprouts, and corn. He said it was pretty good.

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Tonkotsu Classic Ramen – Shio

S got the Tonkotsu Classic Ramen, which features a shio soup base. It featured pork belly char-siu, Kikurage, green onion, and fried onion.

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JINYA Tonkotsu Black

For myself, I went with the JINYA Tonkotsu Black, which is their number one seller. It offers original pork broth with pork belly char-siu, kikurage, green onions, flavoured boiled egg, seaweed, black garlic oil, and garlic chips. I liked how the garlic oil wasn’t overbearing here, but you still got that hint of garlic flavour. The noodles they use in this broth are thin noodles, which I like since I find them more chewy.

Overall, Jinya didn’t disappoint and is a great option for ramen in Vancouver. Service is also extremely friendly. Jinya recently also opened a new store in Kerrisdale, so hopefully that disperses the crowds at the downtown location.

Pros:
– Great broth and noodles
– Friendly service

Cons:
– Expect waits during prime hours

Price Range: $10-20

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

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

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Ramen Butcher

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Ramen Butcher opened up earlier this year in Chinatown and was definitely one of the most talked about ramen shops for a good time. They are part of the Menya Kouji franchise, which is a Japanese restaurant group with many ramen shops in Asia. The chefs are all trained under Yamagishi Kazuo, who is the inventor of tsukemen, a type of ramen noodles.

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Everyone has been talking about the line ups, and I’m definitely someone who hates waiting. So a few months down the line, I was ready to check this place out, hoping the hype would’ve died down. And it definitely did. We had no wait when we arrived shortly just before 6pm, and the shop remained rather quiet throughout the meal. There were diners, but the tables were not fully occupied.

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Orange – Tonkotsu broth with miso marinated ground pork

At Ramen Butcher, their ramens are colour coded. Although most of their soup bases are tonkotsu (pork) based, they put a spin on it with spicy, pesto, and garlic flavoured pastes. S went for the Orange, which has the tonkotsu pork broth with rich miso marinated ground pork. It also comes with aburi pork chashu, which you can choose fatty or lean, and a medium boiled marinated egg. S chose lean chashu and it was pretty much your typical chashu without any fat. The noodles here are much more thin and they are freshly made. I actually really enjoyed the tonkotsu pork broth along with the miso flavouring. It wasn’t too salty although we did find the soup a little on the oily side.

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Black – Tonkotsu broth with roasted garlic oil

For myself, I got the Black, which features tonkotsu pork broth with roasted garlic oil, aburi pork chashu, and a medium boiled marinated egg. The broth definitely appeared black in colour, and my first reaction to the broth was that it tasted very unique. You get a strong roasted garlic flavour for sure, which I actually quite enjoyed. For my chashu, i chose fatty, and my piece of chashu was literally 90% fat! The fat is more chewy than the “melt in your mouth fat”, but it actually wasn’t that bad. It didn’t leave a fatty residue in your mouth afterwards. The medium boiled egg was also made quite well, with the yolk being runny.

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Oh and did I mention that they offer free noodles once you finish your first bowl of noodles and still have soup left? Just let your server know and they will bring you a bowl of noodles to add to your existing soup. We were actually quite full from our first bowl already, but this is great for those who have a large appetite! Overall, Ramen Butcher is a decent ramen joint to try. It seems like people have negative reviews on Ramen Butcher, but I really don’t think it’s as bad as they say. Of course, I would still prefer some of the other ramen joints, like Santouka, but Ramen Butcher is still a great option. Is it so good that I would make a trip out of the way to Ramen Butcher? Probably not. But if I was around Chinatown, it would definitely be an option.

Pros:
– Free noodle refill
– Tonkotsu broth is quite delicious

Cons:
– Broth is a little on the greasy side

Price Range: $10-15

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

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

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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

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