Tag Archives: reviews of Vancouver restaurants

Phnom Pehn

7 Sep

244 East Georgia Street
Vancouver, BC
V6A 1Z7

T: 604 682 5777
No website

Brief Description: An extremely popular, no-frills restaurant that prides itself on offering authentic Cambodian and Vietnamese food. Located in a somewhat questionable part of Chinatown (in my opinion).

This post is about chicken wings and a chicken. And that chicken would be me. Although I have wanted to visit Phnom Penh for quite some time, I have just never felt that safe venturing into Chinatown by myself, or even with my sister – just call me “chicken”! Hence why I have been dragging my feet on making the trip to Phnom Penh. But after recently reading even more rave reviews, I just had to go. So, under the watchful eye of the burly B, I made my first visit a few Saturdays ago for lunch.

If you are a foodie in Vancouver then I am sure that you are well aware of this extremely popular Cambodian/Vietnamese restaurant. If you aren’t, you should note that it is very well-known and appears to have a lot of regulars. We visited on a Saturday for lunch and the restaurant was already bursting at the seams and there was still a constant line of hungry hopefuls out the door, desperate for a table. That’s pretty impressive in a city that is generously sprinkled with good Asian restaurants.

The restaurant itself is a fairly decent size and the tables are laid out in three rows, which kind of gives it the feel of a cafeteria. The decor is simple and fairly unremarkable. Prices are quite reasonable. I had heard some complaints from other foodies that the prices were slightly higher than you’d expect to pay; however, I didn’t feel that the difference was that noticeable. Our bill was still fairly cheap considering what we ordered so I wasn’t about to complain. Service was very prompt and efficient. There was no small-talk but that didn’t really bother us too much. You could tell that the staff were extremely busy making sure that customers were seated and that the food was served quickly.

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Indisputably, the main attraction for a trip to Phnom Penh is the Deep Fried Chicken Wings. All of the reviews that I had read prior to my visit had practically glowed with admiration for these finger-licking inducing delights. Of course, I had to order them. And damn, they were really good (thanks for the tip, Vancouver foodies!). The skin was crunchy with a winning combination of saltiness and flavour and some of the bites were punctuated with small pieces of fried garlic or green onions – yum!! The wings were fresh out of the deep fryer so the flesh was still hot and the pepper/lemon sauce that accompanied the wings added even more “oomph”. The serving size was very impressive. We ordered a small, which I believe was around the $8 mark and that was more than enough. I was happily chomping my way through them for most of the meal, in-between bites of my other dishes.

The other dishes that we feasted on were Pork Salad Roll, Vietnamese Steam Roll, Phnom Penh Egg Noodle in Soup (for me) and Squid Ball Noodle Soup (for B).

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The Pork Salad Roll was ok but not rave-worthy. I probably wouldn’t order it again as it was pretty uneventful – there was no party in my mouth. Although I did like the dipping sauce that it came with.

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The Vietnamese Steam Roll was delicious. There was a lot of flavour in this seemingly simple dish.

I don’t think that either of us was blown-away by our soups but they were decent enough.

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My Phnom Penh Egg Noodle in Soup was a tad dull. There really wasn’t much flavour happening, however, I’m not that well-versed on how Cambodian soups are meant to be so perhaps this is standard.

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We finished our meal with Vietnamese coffees, which is coffee that is slow-dripped into individual cups with condensed milk at the bottom. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these!! Sweet, strong and fresh iced-coffee was a fantastic way to finish the meal.

Final Thoughts: I liked it, particularly the Deep Fried Chicken Wings, however I wasn’t overly impressed. I would go back to see what other dishes they could “Wow!” me with.

Phnom Penh on Urbanspoon

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Campagnolo

14 Mar

1020 Main Street
Vancouver, BC
V6A 2W1

T: 604 484 6018
www.campagnolorestaurant.ca

Brief Description: A casual, rustic restaurant that focuses on affordable seasonal cuisine from the Piedmont and Emigila-Romagna regions of Italy.

Campagnolo - ExteriorA true diamond in the rough. Campagnolo is located in the not-so-great area of Main Street but don’t let that put you off. If you make the journey you will be rewarded as this is not your typical Italian restaurant. You will not find red and white checkered table cloths or the obligatory spaghetti bologanise and greasy pizza. Yes, there is pizza and pasta on the menu but it’s not what you think…

Campagnolo is the second “child” of the owners who run the very successful Fuel in Kitsilano. It really is the odd duck out in that part of Main Street. With a huge inviting window in the front you can’t help but be drawn to the fact that the restaurant is, well, different from it’s surroundings. Walk inside and you’ll find that the decor is minimalistic with a modern urban feel. The use of old growth fir wood as a feature works well to bring a slight softness to the space.

Elements of the decor are mirrored in the food. Comfortably understated and simple, the menu is unpretentious and trys to remain loyal to its well-researched Northern Italian roots with a strong focus on pastas, pizzas, and characuterie plates (“the ‘Cure”). You may, however, need to ask your server for an explanation of some of the dishes as the menu can be slightly difficult to understand.  The drinks list has been carefully selected to only represent Italian or BC beers and wines.

Although B frequently visits Campagnolo, I have only managed to make it there twice so far. On the day that we went for our second visit together, I managed to convince him to share the Albacore Tuna Crudo with white bean, oregano and garlic bread crumb for an appetizer. The delicate pieces of sushi grade tuna initially seemed out of place with the earthy white beans, oregano and garlic bread crumbs but the first bite proved me wrong. The flavours actually worked surprisingly well together. I’m not really sure how prominent albacore tuna is in Northern Italian cooking but it was so good that I won’t question it.

Albacore Tuna Crudo

B continues to rave about the Tagliarini pork ragú with basil and pecorino and, so far, has not ordered anything else but this dish on the many occasions that he has been there. It must be the tender shredded pieces of pork that sit proudly atop the fresh home-made ribbons of pasta that keep him coming back for more. I thoroughly enjoyed the Tagliarini the time that I ordered it and the only thing that stopped me from getting it again was because I wanted to try something new.

Tagliarini pork ragú

The Carnaroli Risotto made with anise, black olive and tarragon was a pleasant surprise and thankfully, the quality was on par with the Tagliarini. I wasn’t expecting it to be as creamy as it was but the black olives added a certain amount of punctuation to the dish, in just the right places.

Carnaroli Risotto

I have yet to try any of the actual desserts, mainly because I have no room left after eating their entrees. Although, being that we were in an Italian restaurant, I just couldn’t say no to ending our meal with a coffee and the house-made biscotti and meringues. A perfect ending to a lazy Saturday lunch.

Final Thoughts: A breath of fresh air to the Italian restaurant scene in Vancouver. The food is delightful in it’s simplicity and is thoughtfully selected and prepared.

Campagnolo on Urbanspoon

Chocoholic Buffet at Fleuri in Sutton Place Hotel

23 Feb

845 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC
V6Z 2K6

T: 604 642 2900
www.vancouver.suttonplace.com

Brief Description: Yes, you read correctly – a Chocolate Buffet! Set in the elegant Fleuri at Sutton Place, this is truly an indulgence.

For as long as I can remember, I have always had a sweet tooth. I have never been able to (or really wanted to) grow out of my constant desire for sweet things – I just love them! So, when I heard that there is an actual all-you-can-eat Chocolate Buffet and it is located mere blocks away from my apartment, it was as though all of my childhood dreams had come true! The way it works is that there are two seatings; one at 6.00pm and one at 8.30pm and it only runs on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. The cost is $28 per head ($14 for children) and I was determined to eat my $28 worth!

I was able to easily entice 3 other chocolate lovers (all female, of course!) to come with me and we excitedly trotted to Sutton Place, ready to indulge. We were all brimming with excitement – I’m glad that I wasn’t alone in my state of childhood exhilaration. It really is true that most women go weak in the knees for chocolate.

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As you walk into the room, your nose is met with the smell of chocolate. Your saliva glands start working over time. You crane your neck to take a glance over to the table in the middle of the room, and you gasp…“There it is!”… a chocolate smorgasbord is laid out in front of you for the taking. Of course you go through the niceties of politely taking your seat and allowing others to go first (“I’ll mind the bags”), when really; all you want to do is jump on to that table! Laid out before you is an assortment of chocolate delicacies; cakes, slices, puddings, pastries, a chocolate fondue fountain with pieces of fresh fruit (ummm, what are they doing in here!?). And to complete the experience, a chef is standing by to make you fresh crepes with a variety of different toppings, sauces and ice-creams or sorbets.

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I honestly felt like a child-hood dream had come true. Overall, I was quite impressed with the quality of the food. Most of the time, I am let down by the quality at buffets (although, strangely, I still find myself drawn back to them 🙂 ) but this was actually good.

There was a great selection of treats for all tastes; rocky road slice, chocolate croissant pudding, chocolate-stuffed profiteroles, white chocolate cake, mousse, marbled cheesecake, chocolate-coated shortbread cookies, chocolate and pecan pie…the list goes on. I did devour quite a lot of chocolate so towards the end I was a little chocolate-d out but that is when I switched my focus to the crepes. I had two of them and coated them with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. Mmmmm! It gave me the savoury taste that I needed to bring me down from my chocolate high.

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Final Thoughts: This was a really fun experience. Obviously, it’s not something that you’d do all the time but I’d definitely recommend it if you can gather a bunch of girlfriends for a special occasion or maybe finish the night with a movie across the street.

Fleuri on Urbanspoon